How to Set Boundaries
I talk about boundaries often, both in my personal and professional life. In our fast-paced-instant-gratification society, boundaries can be difficult to establish and even harder to have respected. Learning to set boundaries is critical, and literally affects every part of our lives.
Healthy boundaries are necessary in honoring God, creating a career/life balance, and flourishing in a purposeful life. I feel that Christian women especially can have trouble setting boundaries, often as a result of fear: fear of being perceived as selfish, unloving, and unsubmissive. Even though it’s difficult, setting boundaries is both significant and biblical.
Healthy boundaries are necessary in honoring God
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 New King James Version)
God is specific about priorities in His Word: honor Him and put Him first. Setting boundaries and honoring God with our time gives Him the first portion of our energy. Live to please God alone, and don’t worry about pleasing other people. Honoring Him puts us on the path to fulfilling His purpose for our lives.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 New International Version)
Our bodies aren’t our own. Setting healthy boundaries honors God by respecting our physical, mental and emotional health. Boundaries help set limits that can help us avoid unnecessary stress and enjoy peace in God’s rest. We must take care of our bodies, minds and emotions if we want to live long and healthy lives. Decide to stop any destructive patterns and pray for grace as you replace your unhealthy attitudes and behaviors with healthy ones. Honor God by choosing to focus on changing yourself.
Healthy boundaries help us create a career/life balance
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…” (Colossians 3:23 NIV)
Set priorities, real priorities and not a to-do list. Real prioritizing is about choosing what must get done, what can wait, and what can be delegated or removed. The biggest misconception people have about prioritizing is that you’ll get less done. In reality, if you set boundaries you are more likely to identify what is really important. You are able to put more of your heart into your work.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...“ (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).
Boundaries are especially important in our marriages and home lives, as boundaries help us appreciate differences in each other and value one another. God entrusts us with the hearts of others, we have the power to build them up or tear them apart. Sometimes love requires us to say “no” to those we love. Setting boundaries is about being clear about what you will and will not accept in your life. Set clear boundaries with the people in your life – from your husband and children, to your friends and coworkers.
If you are an entrepreneur or business owner, you may feel that you don’t have a personal life. This is something that my husband and I can both attest to! It’s easy to become obsessed with business successes (or struggles). Setting appropriate boundaries are critical in balancing career life with home and family life. If your business partner also happens to be your spouse, as is in our case, then boundaries between work and life also become critical for a healthy and happy marriage.
Healthy boundaries allow us to live a purposeful life
“For each one should carry their own load…A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:5-9 NIV)
Living inside God’s boundaries brings blessing, and living outside of them brings chaos. Choosing to live outside of boundaries means to accept the consequences. Healthy boundaries teach us to take responsibility for our own lives and allow others to live theirs. We have been given a free will, talents and responsibility for using God's gift wisely. We each have a unique purpose and are not supposed to compare ourselves to others, nor worry about other’s opinions.
While we often can’t control circumstances, we can control how we respond. We can choose to surrender to God and follow His guidance in setting appropriate boundaries. Healthy moral boundaries allow us to decide what is right and what is wrong. We can make sacrifices for people when appropriate, but never in a destructive manner. We can be available for people in a crisis, but unavailable to irrational demands. Most women tend to respond to other people’s needs at the expense of their own, and then suffer from the chaos of not setting proper boundaries. Accepting consequences also means accepting that your actions can be steering you (or someone else) away from God’s purpose and destiny. You cannot do everything, even Jesus set limits on Himself!
Boundaries aren’t easy, in fact, they often need to be worked at. The more you learn how to apply biblical wisdom to your life, the better you’ll be able to set boundaries that will help you accomplish God’s will. Pay attention to how He speaks to you about boundaries and pray for the bravery needed to overcome fears holding you back.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide