December 27, 2017
So the new year is approaching and I’m sure you’re seeing a ton of advertising about “new year, new you!” It may be overwhelming to think about all of the options you have for self development this year as you’re quite frankly bombarded with all the things you “should” be doing come January. So, if there’s one thing I wish you would take with you into your new year, it’s a tool to help you thrive instead of just survive in 2018, and to choose what you focus on with intention…. And that tool is good boundaries. Let me tell you why…
Over the last year, have you answered the question, “How are you?” with a strained, “Good! So busy…”? I am a busy man and over these past few years I learned first how to survive and then, sometime later, how to thrive in the midst of this intense chaos. How? I finally came to grips with the fact that there’s more to do in a day than any one of us can accomplish. And as you go into the new year, I’m sure you’re facing similar situations. Working harder may be necessary at times, but it’s definitely not a sustainable way to live.
Tuning Up Your Boundaries
So how do you know if your boundaries need a tune up? Let me ask you a question: Is it common for you to rush from fire to fire feeling obligated to meet the needs of everyone who calls upon you? Do you constantly respond to the expectations of other people over your needs and goals? If you answered yes, then consider this: When you live that way, you leave the important people and divine purposes (that may not be on fire) neglected, deserted, and ignored.
But the dysfunctional cycle doesn’t stop there, because eventually the neglected essential people and your abandoned purposes catch on fire! Sometimes they are completely destroyed before you can free yourself from the obligations of others to douse the flames of distraction on your own divine connections and destiny!
Let me ask you a few more questions. Who dictates your schedule? Do you, or does someone else? Do you spend most of your days returning phone calls and texts, or are you the one originating them? If you don’t have a plan for your life, other people will provide one for you. The fact is, most of the needy people and many of the powerful people around you have strong opinions about what they think you should be doing.
Opportunities Call for Priorities
My point? You must set and maintain boundaries! When you don’t set limits with people, they dictate your destiny, and your life becomes a menagerie of meeting other people’s expectations while missing the call of God on your own life! God has given you a race to run, a fight to finish, and a path to follow. Don’t let others distract you from it.
We must all master the art of being deeply compassionate without letting the desires of others dictate our destinies or dominate our daily priorities. Let me be clear: I’m not talking about being self-centered or self-absorbed. Neither am I saying that the needs of others shouldn’t influence your activities. They should!
In fact, I don’t care how busy you are; you should never be too busy to touch the desperate needs of the people in your inner circle. Touching those who serve me and are in my family is part of my journey in the Spirit. I am not untouchable, rigid, or heartless; but I have decided that I will not fear people, nor will I be enslaved to them. You and I are called to serve God by serving people. But we are not called to serve people instead of serving God (Acts 5:29).
What Do You Need To Do?
No one else can set boundaries for you. To set and maintain your boundaries you must have the courage to:
- Say no.
- Risk being misunderstood.
- Refuse to live under the expectations of others.
- Be satisfied at times with pleasing only God.
- Prioritize the important things (which means being okay with disappointing people).
- Be self-aware enough to know your needs and capacity.
- Love yourself well so that you can love others well.
- Reevaluate your boundaries and capacity as seasons of life change.
- Invite Holy Spirit to correct and guide you.
This is the cross you must bear for the sake of your soul, for the sake of your family, and for the sake of the Kingdom. Life is a delicate balance, a dance with time and priorities, a Holy Spirit journey of discovering what it means to be about our Father’s business. In this crazy and chaotic world of intense need, we can only thrive when guided by Someone more brilliant than us.
As you go into the new year I encourage you to take some time to write down your priorities for the year (including prioritizing self care) so that you can do the things God has in store for you in 2018! Do you find it difficult to create and maintain your boundaries? What’s one thing you can do to set yourself up for success this new year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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