How to Set Healthy Boundaries
Do you feel pulled in several directions due to your daily responsibilities? Do you have friends who seem to need your attention more than others, perhaps to the point of being demanding? Are you someone who seems to have difficulty saying no to requests from friends and family? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might need to create some boundaries in your life.
Today, we’re going to take a look at how we can set healthy boundaries and the importance of setting boundaries in our lives in order to improve our personal well-being.
Why We Need Boundaries
What does God’s Word tell us about establishing boundaries in our lives? Psalm 16:5-6 says, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (NIV). God himself established boundaries for us and instructed us as to the importance of sound boundaries.
God also advises us in Proverbs 25:17 as to the significance of healthy boundaries in our relationships with others. “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.” Proverbs 25:17 ESV
When we set boundaries, we are protecting our hearts and mind. We are putting limits on what we will allow, and our choices illustrate to others our values, which goes deep to our identity. And when you live by your boundaries, you can trust that God will supply you with the strength you need to stand firm. God will bless your faithfulness, and you’ll appreciate the fact that His boundaries are given for your protection.
I recently read that boundaries show us where “I end and where you begin.” They are the guardrails of life.Boundaries are guardrails of life to protect us. Dr. Robin Revis Pyke Click To Tweet
So, how do we establish boundaries? Let’s take a look at the examples in the Bible for setting healthy boundaries, which will also help us put into practice limitations for our well-being and the welfare of those around us.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
Jesus set the practice of establishing healthy boundaries. Keep in mind that Jesus was not merely fully God but also fully man. He experienced the same feelings of exhaustion when faced with people in need, and He felt the weight of responsibility in hearing their cries for help.
What did Jesus do to set healthy boundaries and prevent himself from becoming overwhelmed by the enormous task of hearing others’ needs and responding to their requests? Let’s look at five examples in the Bible, where Jesus created boundaries for himself:
He spent time in prayer and stillness.
Jesus knew that in order to fulfill His ministry on earth, He needed to spend time in quiet prayer. This is where Jesus derived His strength and power to minister to the needs of others. The gospel of Mark 1:35-38 tells us, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Mark 1:35-38 ESV
Jesus spent his time ministering to those in need. He poured into them, but Jesus was also aware that He too needed to be filled. And just like we need time to rest, so did Jesus. He required time for restoration and refreshment, and this could only be done by spending time with God the Father. We also need to spend time in prayer and stillness for renewal and refreshment. It is in God’s presence where we find restoration for our soul and are strengthened for our journey.
He was present and purposeful.
Jesus was present and purposeful in His work, in His teaching, and the conversations in which He partook. He did not waste time doing things separate from His mission to preach the good news. Jesus prioritized His Father’s will, above all else, to love one another.
Lazarus was a personal friend to Jesus. In John 11:5-6, Jesus showed His love for His friend,
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” John 11:5-6 ESV
Jesus delayed His travels so He could be present for Lazarus. We also need to be present for life and purposeful in setting our priorities with our families, friends, careers, or activities. Prioritizing our schedules according to God’s Word allows us to live an intentional life, a life that honors and God in all that we say and do.
He spoke truth.
Just as He did not waste time on things outside His mission, Jesus also did not waste time in His communication. His mission was too important to waste His time and resources on the things of life that did not matter. When Jesus spoke, He was straightforward, honest, and authoritative, and He did so lovingly and with compassion.
In John 14:23-24, Jesus speaks to His disciples offering instructions and teaching, “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”
We, too, need to be direct and speak honestly in our communication. As Jesus illustrated, we need to speak with truthfulness and love (Ephesians 4:15) to the people in our lives.
He honored God.
Jesus refused to give in to the demands of the world. His focus was to honor God the Father even to the point of death on the Cross. Rather than being the political savior, Jesus gave the glory to God and remained focused on the mission – salvation for the world through the Cross.
“I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” John 5:41-44 ESV
We, too, are called as believers to honor God above all and walk in obedience to Him, giving God the praise and glory in all that we do.
Jesus lived with integrity.
Jesus was willing to say no to requests that were outside the bounds of His mission. He did not succumb to temptations. He refused to give special privileges to His followers. Jesus also taught that commitments are binding.
“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matthew 5:37 ESV
As followers, we are called to live with the same integrity and values as Jesus. Boundaries assist us in living a healthy, productive life. We have the choice to decide what is right for us. We are encouraged that our yes be yes or our no be no. We are not to be pressured or manipulated into activities or decisions that are immoral or unhealthy for us.
Ready, Set, Boundaries!
These five examples of the boundaries Jesus created for His time on Earth can be implemented in our lives as well. Our first step is to place our focus on the Lord and live within the boundaries He has set for us. Are you ready to set some boundaries? Are you prepared to live with intention making what matters most in your life a priority? I hope you’ll join me in establishing or reestablishing boundaries for the well-being of our lives, our relationships, and our calling!
“But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Luke 5:15-16 ESV
Are you practicing boundaries in your life? What are you doing to prevent burnout? If you have any tips to share with our readers, we encourage you to share your experiences with our Reflecting Life Community.
If you’d like to schedule a call to discuss boundary setting or goal setting, I offer a 90-minute reflection call where we spend time working through a particular challenge or goal using a 5-step coaching method to achieve your desired results. We’ll use God’s word and prayer to guide the conversation. You can schedule your reflection call through my online link at Calendly. I look forward to working with you!