I passionately shared the concerns of a family whose son is a member of The Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community. He and his family have become close friends during the 20 years I have served in this ministry. Our executive director, Richard Stimson, listened without lifting his eyes from the task he was doing on his computer. About the time I had wound down, he said, “You can’t take ownership of this family’s problem, you know. It sounds like you are more concerned about this crisis than any of them.”
“I haven’t taken ownership,” I said, emphatically.
“Of course, you have,” he said, turning back to his computer task. “Listen to your tone of voice.”
Later that night, I heard a teaching emphasizing the importance of boundaries. The teaching came from the book written by Dr. Henry Cloud, Boundaries. There are four good reasons to have boundaries with your members and their families.
- Undue stress often results in having inappropriate boundaries in our lives. If I am not able to set boundaries with the members I serve, it is a good possibility that I don’t have proper boundaries in any area of my life.
- We can become unwilling to submit to others, especially our board of directors or our supervisor because we will feel that we have a greater understanding than others.
- When we don’t set boundaries, we will become overly involved in the lives of our members and families.
- Lack of boundaries means that we lose our objectivity and begin to compromise what we know is correct…refuse to take the advise of others or…compromise biblical principles.
The details of the boundaries that you may need to implement should be set after prayer with your family and your spouse. Each person must be realistic regarding his or her strengths and weaknesses. Have you been able to do the tough work of setting boundaries? What are some of the things you have learned? What are some of the things that you need to learn?