RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Many people carry around a ton of feathers — the little things that weight them down, a national counselor to ministers and their families said during the National Conference for Church Leadership.
Speaking at LifeWay Christian Resources’ Ridgecrest Conference Center, June 25-29, Barney Self said some ministry loads get so heavy that “if people won’t honor your God-honoring boundaries, you have to ask if that is where God wants you to be.”
Self, who is the helpline counselor for LeaderCare, a ministry to ministers and their families offered by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “We must not assume total responsibility for meeting others’ needs.
“This includes relationships with our spouses, children, parents and our church. The pattern of health God calls us to follow is one of defining what he would have us do in a situation. This means we will be required to say ‘no’ to ourselves at various points. It also requires us to say ‘no’ to our spouses, our children and to church members,” he said.
Self reminded conference participants that Christ did not heal everyone who came to him. He left the disciples and the multitudes to go into the desert to pray.
“Boundary setting is a grace-based reality,” Self said. “We can neither ignore others’ needs nor should we ignore our own.”
People cannot ignore their mate’s needs or pretend they have no needs themselves. They can neither ignore the requests of parents nor do everything they ask of them as adults. They cannot ignore the needs of children or give in to their every whim.
“We can neither do all of what church members ask, nor do we ignore their needs as people. Striking the balance in defining boundaries is a difficult and challenging task,” he acknowledged. “We must be certain we are doing what God would have us do in ministry, versus what others would define as acceptable. Healthy boundaries make ministry more effective. When we are able to function in a way that our needs are met, we can give to others more effectively.”
He said God tells us in Proverbs 25:28 to set internal boundaries by having self-control, and he also frees us from the control of others.
“The freedom noted in Galatians 5:1 comes from being in control of our lives rather than giving the control away to others because we have poor boundaries,” he said. “We love ourselves by having healthy boundaries in place internally. We love our children by establishing healthy boundaries in their lives. We also love our congregations by putting healthy boundaries in place in church life. Healthy boundaries increase healthy communication, connection, shared life and validate the care and love of others.
“We must carefully assess both our own needs and the demands of others in light of God’s balance and his will. This pattern will honor God and bless us,” he concluded.
The toll-free LeaderCare Helpline number for Southern Baptist pastors, church staff and their families is 1-888-789-1911.
The pastor-staff leadership department of LifeWay Christian Resources sponsored the National Conference for Church Leadership.