4 Ways to Set Boundaries in Ministry
Written by Jimmy Draper
It is important to acknowledge that most of us are our own worst enemies in thinking we have to be present at everything that happens at the church. It was a liberating day for me and for the church when I discovered that meetings could go on without me! It also is empowering for church members to know you trust them enough to do their work.To evaluate how you are doing at protecting time for your family and yourself, consider these questions.
• How often do you work on your days off?
• What do you do when a church meeting or appointment conflicts with an event important to one of your children?
• How often do you take your wife out on a date?
• How long has it been since you enjoyed a round of golf, a tennis match, or some other sports or hobby activity?
• On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate your physical fitness?
• On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate your spiritual fitness?
• How long has it been since you ate dinner at home?
• How often do you spend time alone with one of your children?
• Did you take all of your vacation time last year? The year before?
If your responses to these questions indicate you have progress to make in setting and maintaining boundaries, don’t despair! You can make changes.
Here are four suggestions, based on my 35 years of pastoral ministry. I didn’t start out practicing all of these. Some were learned through the crucible of wrong choices. I offer them for your consideration.
1. Review the activities at the church.
Decide which require your attention and which do not. This may require handing off assignments to the staff or lay leaders. Work with the appropriate persons to make those changes as needed.
2. Get a physical check-up.
If you haven’t had a physical examination recently, get one. Then develop a plan for eating, exercise, and recreation, and follow it. You will feel better and have more energy for ministry and for your family.
3. Evaluate your present habits of prayer and Bible study.
Are you allowing adequate time to prepare for teaching God’s Word? What about your own needs for personal spiritual renewal? Make changes as needed.
4. Schedule time with your family.
Make time for the entire family as a whole and with individual members. Place these times on your calendar, along with church meetings and appointments with church members.
All of us need to spend time with our children, attending their important events, and building strength into family relationships. Establishing boundaries and respecting family engagements and needs is the only way to do that.