I'm an Enneagram nine. Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting.
All this is to say that setting boundaries can be difficult for me; however, I have learned the importance of having them, especially in Ministry.
People want and sometimes demand your time, and if you're not careful, you can let them have control over something or an area in your life they were never meant to control.
There was a time in Rae and I's life where we were a little too passive in our boundaries. We allowed certain people to dictate our time, and because of that, it resulted in a very unhealthy journey for us. We weren't clear about setting boundaries in our life until it was too late in that situation. The fact is, is when you give so much of yourself in time delegated by others you have nothing to give to those you love or yourself. The effect of not creating boundaries can be bitterness, loss of motivation or purpose, anger, and hurt, just to name a few.
I ran across a great quote the other day that I want to use as a foundation.
"You have the right to set a boundary about anything you want. Define it, announce it, honor it."
Now. Let's dive a little deeper.
1. Name your boundaries.
"You have the right to set a boundary about anything you want..." ANYTHING! The hard reality is, some people will try to tell you what should or shouldn't be a boundary in your life. That isn't something for anyone to determine but you! Right down what is most important in your professional, personal, and spiritual life and begin identifying boundaries that may need to be set to guard and protect those things.
2. Define it!
Now that you've identified your boundaries you have to define them. As I mentioned earlier, because of my personality type, creating boundaries can be difficult for me. Trust me when I say, this is something you need to do in your life, regardless of your personality. I have learned the hard way that if you don't define your boundaries, those hard lines, others will try to blur those lines. So don't just say "Weekly time with family is a boundary I am setting". Instead, be clear on WHY! "Weekly time with family is a boundary I am setting because long before God called me to my job He called me to be a loving father to my kids and a present husband to my wife."
3. Announce it!
Once you know what your boundaries are and have defined them clearly, you now have to communicate them. People don't innately know your boundaries, so it's up to us to express them. We can't hold the right to be hurt or offended if we're not adequately communicating what those lines are in our lives. After all, priorities, boundaries, and goals will look different for each of us. I'm not saying you hand out a list or make it known on social media. However, when a boundary is being attacked, you can communicate to those involved that that particular situation is off-limits.
4. Honor it!
Stick to your guns! Again, I have an issue with this. My nature is to please people. I want to help, I want to assist, I don't want to disappoint. There have been times in my life that I have not honored my boundaries, and it was painful. However, it helped me understand the importance of clearly defining those lines and not blurring them. Make no mistake; there will be pressure from others to make acceptions. When it comes to those specific areas in your life, don't let others dictate what you hold dear and protect. You have to honor the boundaries that you set in your life.
So, now that you have identified and defined clearly your boundaries, how do you go about honoring them? How do you communicate with them?
Proverbs 15:1 says:
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
We can have boundaries, define them, and announce them without tarnishing our character. When a boundary is being pushed or "threatened" for lack of better words, this is the perfect time to have a conversation with the person and share with them your defined boundary and then always offer a solution to the problem. For example "I can't meet with you tomorrow evening because of my child's school event; however, I would love to meet with you at 3:00 on a Friday!"
Boundaries don't mean you have to tell everyone no all of the time. They are simply a safeguard for you and your family. It's a way to set up your priorities and keep them safe. It's not an opportunity to be rude or disrespectful. Your boundaries are for YOU. It's a system set in place to help you know how to handle situations, conversations, and people. It enables you to set parameters that can help you navigate your life well as you overcome that pressure to please.