Saturday, June 22, 2024
Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeAll The NewsHEALTHY CHURCH: Boundaries and Limits

HEALTHY CHURCH: Boundaries and Limits

Everyone has certain capabilities and capacities. Someone might be described as a “high-capacity” leader who appears capable of handling multiple responsibilities at the same time. The reality is that everyone has their limits and boundaries. There are several resources that can help you to navigate your God-given limits, like Boundaries by Henry Cloud, Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordero, How to Lead and Still Have a Life by H. Dale Burke and Replenish by Lance Witt. Understand that the pressure of ministry is real and requires God’s supernatural power to thrive. That does not mean that you become Superman. 

Paul lists in I Corinthians 11 all the struggles, trials and even persecution that he endured. Then in verse 29 (HCSB) he states, “Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.” A true shepherd has a heart for the sheep, and that means, at times, the leader’s heart will break for the sheep. One boundary is realizing that you are responsible to the sheep but not for the sheep. There are many things you can and should do for the sheep, but there is much you cannot do for them. You cannot study their Bible for them, nor can you say their prayers for them, but you can show them how and lead by example.

Another boundary is learning when to say “no.” This is not easy for a leader who is a people pleaser, nor for the one who is convinced they can handle far more than they are capable of handling. Pete Scazzero challenged leaders to embrace the gift of limits. Humility has been defined by him as, “knowing your limits and getting the help you need.” A great boundary in this area is realizing if there is a ministry someone would like to see your church be involved in, first ask them to lead it. You cannot add another plate to spin to your already overcrowded plate spinning capacities. Jesus focused on building men, not developing programs.

God created you with physical, intellectual, material and time limits, just to mention a few. It is how you are designed, and you cannot do it all. Focus on the things you can change and the people you can disciple. Billy Graham said he wished he had studied more, prayed more and traveled less. This leads to the next boundary, spend more time working on the ministry God has given you than in that ministry. Moving forward from vision and goals to the steps required to achieve them is hard work. Look long and hard at your calendar — is there really room in your already overbooked schedule for another task or project?

The next boundary or limit is making sure that your next steps, new programs, projects and/or initiatives are God-initiated. Psalm 37:7 states, “Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him.” How many ideas have we moved forward on before we were certain it was God-orchestrated? Have we birthed new things “for” God that were not necessarily in God’s timing because we were rushing, pressing or impatient? Waiting is a biblical principle that will help us with ministry boundaries and limits if we will faithfully practice Psa. 37:7. Slow down and listen to God. You might be in hurry, but He is not.

A boundary that God places on man from the beginning is a sabbath. It is the fourth of the Ten Commandments and accounts for a third of the content. Maybe you have steered away from the sabbath because of the fear of legalism but remember “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). You can view the sabbath as a burden and a restriction that is not even possible because of an already overbooked calendar but the sabbath is actually a gift from God that we are invited to receive. The Sabbath is God’s way of calling us out of a culture trying to prove its worth and value by what it does.

One boundary/limit that is overlooked too often is emotional scars and taking the time to grieve our losses and pain. Admit that the battle scars of life and ministry hurt tremendously at times. Give yourself permission to grieve the times that have hurt you deeply. Spend time crying out to God “lamenting” the disappointment and discouragement that is real in your heart. If you have been in ministry long, someone has let you down or maybe you have even experienced betrayal. You find out that your church family is far from perfect, and people disappoint you, at times bewilder you and even shock you.

The hurt and disappointment are real and you need to draw a boundary of not bearing these burdens alone. Begin in prayer, but also find someone to pray with you and a friend to help you bear these “pressures” of the care of the churches that Paul called them. Every person that seeks to live in community with other believers, sooner or later, will experience deep disappointment and even disillusionment if they are not careful. Paul said that Demas had forsaken him because of his love for the things of the world. Paul also told us about Diotrephes who loved to slander others and that there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Boundaries and limits are not always clear and definitive. They will require your sensitivity to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and watching yourself. One leader said you need to watch the warning lights on your dashboard as you journey. Are things bothering you that should not be bothering you? Are you becoming more and more irritable about things that really should not matter? Are you more tired than usual but having difficulty sleeping at night? Are you willing to see God’s boundaries and limits as a gift to your spiritual health and physical health as well? Will you take the next necessary steps to implement them?