We discuss when and how to create effective boundaries
~~ Watch the Video ~~
How to Set Boundaries
- 2 Corinthians 9:7
- John 5:2-3
- Luke 10:29-37
- Galatians 6:7
- 2 Thessalonians 3:10
- James 1:5
- 1 Samuel 15:20-22
Don’t Touch My Hair
2 Corinthians 9:7
7 Each one must do just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- Don’t do it if your heart’s not in it
Two people in a relationship will have had different life experiences, so what is normal for one person isn’t necessarily normal for the other person
Boundaries help you
- Articulating what's important to you
- Honor your core values
- Share something that you may not be comfortable with and your relationship
- Say no to things that are unhealthy or unhelpful
In order to ensure we’re setting proper boundaries, we must...
- We must own our own thoughts
- We must grow in knowledge and expand our mind
- We must clarify distorted thinking
The goal of studying boundaries isn’t about changing other people. It’s about changing us.
- It’s not a manipulation tactic
People treat us how we allow ourselves to be treated
We must make sure that we are communicating our thoughts to others and not expecting them to read our minds.
- Traits of Wholeness
- What Are Boundaries? (Review)
- From the Book
- Boundary Examples
- How to Set Boundaries
- Obedience to God: The Ultimate Boundary
Traits of Wholeness
We are in our series called Seeking Wholeness
How can we be _______ healthy
Dealing with life’s current stresses and also being healed from experiences/wounds of the past
We’re not just supposed to have eternal life
- We’re supposed to have: joy, peace, patience, and self control here on earth
Traits of Wholeness
- Not seeking external approval / validation
- Living by values and principles
- Setting Boundaries
- Taking ownership of your responsibilities
- Living with purpose and passion
- Healthy relationships with others
- Not losing control of your emotions
- Free from addictions
- Addressing Conflict
- Not critical or Judgmental
- Not jealous
- Genuinely applaud the success of others
- Forgive those who have wronged you in the past
- Know that you’re worthy of receiving love
- Not afraid to fail
- Able to manage irrational fear, worry, and anxiety
- Selfless encounters with others
- Not manipulating others trying to control their actions/reactions
- You care about how others feel
- Don’t give into peer/social pressure
- Can communicate directly
- Don’t take responsibility for other people's emotions
- Take responsibility for your own emotions
- Being led by the Spirit
What Are Boundaries? (Review)
Love vs Fear
We are, though, supposed to be generous and sacrificial as Christians and treat others as we'd like to be treated. But that doesn't mean that we should allow ourselves to be manipulated or taken advantage of.
When we say yes, it should be out of love and not out of fear
- fear of saying no
- fear of their reaction
- fear of not appearing to be a good person
- fear of the other person's opinion of you
Whatever you are doing out of love is fine. When you are doing it out of fear, there is an issue.
What is a Boundary?
We need to discern between boundary issues vs our own selfishness.
A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances. Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions. Emotional boundaries help us deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others. Spiritual boundaries help us distinguish God's will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator.
-- Boundaries - Cloud & Townsend
A boundary is:
- a guideline
- a rule
- a limit
It states… This is what I am OK with and this is what I am not OK with
The goal of boundary setting isn’t about getting the other person to be different...it's about getting you to be different
When we practice boundaries, we take ownership of:
- Our thoughts
- Our feelings
- Our bodies
- Our decisions
Likewise, we let other people take ownership of their thoughts, feelings, bodies and decisions
- What I am responsible for, and what I am not responsible for in relationships
You are not responsible for someone else’s wants
You are responsible for your own limits
- What you have authority over and what other people have authority over
- Who I allow to access me, and when
Example: Joel Osteen call at 4AM
- 52,000 attendees per week
Not an Agreement
You define your own boundaries
Boundaries Have Consequences
We need to have a consequence to violating our boundaries
Goals of Boundaries
- Not About Changing The Other Person
- Boundaries provide protection so that we can be vulnerable
- I don’t have to keep my guard up now
Jesus Had Boundaries
Cleansing the Temple
Jesus drove out the money changers from the temple - Matthew 21:12-13
Jesus limited access to Himself
- He often went away to pray - Luke 5:15-16
- He refused to talk to his mother and brothers - Matthew 12:46-50
Jesus didn't heal everyone who needed healing
. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
- He only healed one person at the pool of Bethesda - John 5:1-15
- He could only heal a few people in His hometown - Mark 6:4 - 6
Jesus was selective about who deserves blessing and His healing
- If not worthy take back your blessing - Matthew 10: 11-15
- The Faith of a Canaanite Woman - Matthew 15: 21-28
- Called her a “dog”
Jesus concealed the truth of His teachings from some
- Why He speaks in parables - Matthew 13:10-12
- “I came to teach the Kingdom of God….oh, but not to you…”
From the Book
From Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend - Chapter 2
Good Samaritan example
29 But wanting to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The Good Samaritan
30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he encountered robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by coincidence a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan who was on a journey came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed compassion to him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
- The scribe was an expert in the law
- When asking “who is my neighbor?” he wanted to know....
- Who can I exclude?
The Samaritan was likely on a business trip (trade)
What If the Wounded Man Wanted More?
What if the injured man woke up and said
- Are you just going to abandon me?
- I am hurt and need assistance
- You need to stay with me
The Samaritan stays. He loses the business he was going to do with the camels. Now his company goes under. He gets angry at the injured man saying “ how can you do this to me”.
At some level the story is familiar to all of us.
We help someone in need but then this person manipulates us into giving more than we wanted to.
Has this ever happened to you?
Example: “well a sandwich costs $4”
Or we may want more from someone else and we pressure them until they give in. They don’t give out of their heart or a free will, but out of compliance.
We are not responsible for the other person’s wants.
We are responsible for our limits.
Feelings shouldn’t be ignored nor placed in charge.
Feelings can tell you if things are going well or if there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Sowing and reaping
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap.
Sowing and reaping shows us that they are natural consequences to behavior. The problem happens when you don’t allow someone to experience the consequences of their behavior.
Example: - “our son has a problem”
A common boundary problem is owning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else. We need to realize that we are in control of our choices no matter how we feel. Doing so releases the tendency of giving reluctantly or under compulsion.
2 Thessalonians 3:10
For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.
We can’t set limits on others.
Example: you need to wash my car three times a week
We can limit our exposure to people who are behaving poorly.
Our desires lie within our own boundaries.
To know what to ask for we have to be in touch with who we really are and our motives.
What Are some examples of boundaries?
Can you please not read and respond to text when we are having dinner?
“ I don’t like it when you yell at me“
- lets people know the boundaries of your relationship and how you like to be treated
How to Set Boundaries
Before you set the boundary examine your heart and ask yourself
- Do I have permission to feel angry when I am controlled by others?
- Am I aware when I am being violated?
- Am I aware of my early warning signals?
Assess The Situation
Here are some questions you could pray through
- How are you feeling about the situation and why?
- What do you wish could be different?
- Is the other person sinning against you? How?
Pray About It
If anyone lacks wisdom ask God and it will be given to you
The first thing you’ll want to do is pray about it.
Be honest and tell God about your feelings
Establish what you want
You can’t set boundaries until you are clear on your desires
Define Your Boundaries
Remember, you’re responsible for your thoughts, feelings, body and decisions, no one else’s.
- Is someone blaming me for something that is their responsibility?
- What is reasonable for someone to ask of me, and what is not?
- What are my expectations from this person?
- Are those reasonable?
- What do I need to communicate so that my limits are understood?
- Is this boundary based on my need in a relationship, or is this boundary based on some unmet need in me?
- Example: you need too much validation (text every 15 minutes)
- Is this a need that no one else can fulfill except for me or God?
- Is this need based on me not being healed from a previous relationship?
Example: Mother-in-law won’t take ownership of her feelings
Your mother-in-law says you make her feel unappreciated and unloved.
- She complains about it all the time
- You don’t own her feelings; she does.
“When my mother-in-law starts blaming me for her feelings, I will apologize for anything I did that was sinful or disrespectful, but nothing more. I’ll tell her I’m trying my best and that I hope she forgives me. But beyond that, the conversation will be over.”
Communicate Your Boundaries
This means you have to talk about things even if you don’t feel like it or if it makes you uncomfortable
- this is what I think is a healthy standard is
- This is where I draw the line
- What are your expectations
- What are you willing to put up with?
- What are you willing to compromise on?
Be direct and clear
People do better with direct and clear communication… Even if they don’t agree with it
Jesus was direct and clear
State what you want...don’t complain about what they’re doing
How to Phrase it
Express it with logic rather than emotion
Avoid phrases like
- Or else
Boundaries should use “I statements“
- Controlling language relationship
It is not just what you say, but how you say it can be just as important.
Other Involved Parties
You might also have to explain your limits to others who are involved.
In this scenario, you could say to your husband that you are not responsible for his mother’s feelings and neither is he.
Communicate Early in the Relationship
You need to communicate your boundaries from the first date
Once you have defined your limits, you will also want to define consequences for when those limits are broken. If the other person continues to violate your boundaries, what then?
Set Your Consequences Ahead of Time
Consequences should be chosen prayerfully—and ahead of time, so that you’re not making a decision in the heat of the moment.
You May Get Resistance
This may cause
- The other person to drawback
Follow Through on the Consequence
If you state a boundary and then you don’t do the consequence they have less reason to respect the boundary in the future
Once you’ve made a decision, stick to it.
- Don’t make excuses for their behavior.
- Don’t rationalize it because of your feelings for the person
- “They didn’t mean it”
Example: college boys pickup before the club
- Give you 2 minutes to get out before leaving without you
What are some examples of consequences for the discussed boundaries?
Sometimes the only way to show the other person that your boundaries are real is to create space until they are ready to deal with the issue
This might mean removing yourself from an emotionally harmful situation
Emotional distance is a temporary barrier to give your heart the space it needs to be safe. It is never a permanent way of living. If you have been in an abusive relationship you should wait until it is safe and until real patterns of change have been demonstrated for you to go back.
Boundaries are like fences, not brick walls.
While it’s important to stick to the boundaries you’ve decided upon, you might not need to stick with them forever, and there may be exceptions.
Hopefully, once other people see that you’re serious, they might start changing their behavior.
If you see change happening you might loosen your boundaries
You could also seek counsel about the situation
be careful that you’re
- Not gossiping
- Not trying to turn people against the offender.
- Not just venting your frustration
Be discreet and seek to get input
Creating boundaries always involves a support network
Obedience to God: The Ultimate Boundary
Obedience is better than sacrifice
Obedience to what?
1 Samuel 15:20-22
20“But I did obey the LORD,” Saul replied. “I went on the mission that the LORD gave me. I brought back Agag king of Amalek and devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 The troops took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of the things devoted to destruction, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
22But Samuel declared:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obedience to His voice?
Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice,
and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams.
The disobedience was that he didn’t kill the animals...and the king
- Not murdering was the disobedience
- He was told to kill every animal, soldier, man, woman and child
This isn’t obedience to the law or written commands
The context of the verse is obedience to commands God gave directly to you
Obedience to a word from God or nudging from the Holy Spirit
Example: God told you to turn around your car and give someone money and pray for them
- Someone calls and wants prayer
- “The Verizon customer you have called is not available at the moment…”
Example: communicating on Tuesday
- Impact fulfilling my assignment
- Mood, focus
By Cloud & Townsend
Boundaries: why do you need them and how to set them
The holistic psychologist
How to set biblical boundaries with difficult people
Romans 14: 21-23
21It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother or sister stumbles. 22The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is the one who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23But the one who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
12“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want [o]them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.