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To Build A Fence

Darrell Fraley

If "good fences make good neighbors," what are you doing with an unmended wall? Find out how you can re-establish your personal boundaries.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down."

In this excerpt from "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost, the poet's neighbor insists on rebuilding the fence that has fallen into disarray over the winter. Why? the poet asks. The neighbor replies, "Good fences make good neighbors."

How can you ensure that you're a good neighbor to those in your ministry? By having good boundaries.

Out Of Bounds

Do you have a boundary problem? Check off the questions below that you've actually asked yourself.

  • Will I ever get a day off?
  • Do these expenses come out of my pocket or the church's budget?
  • Why am I waking up in the night worrying about my job?
  • Why do I always bring work home with me?
  • Why do I have so much vacation time left at the end of the year?
  • When was the last time I enjoyed my hobby?
  • Do I really look as tired as people say?
  • Am I eating so much because I'm hungry or because I'm trying to take my mind off my work?
  • Does everyone have the recurring nightmare of a cell phone chasing them?
  • How in the world am I going to write curriculum and recruit volunteers at the same time?

If you've ever asked yourself any of these questions, you probably have a boundary problem. You need to re-establish your boundaries.

In Bounds

Personally, I believe the two boundaries -- or values -- that I've listed below are general universals for everyone in ministry.

There's nothing inside or outside of ministry that's worth selling out your family. In the midst of all the ministry demands and expectations, never forget that your family is your first ministry. If the wheels are falling off your family, it's only a matter of time before the wheels fall off everything else. You have to set this boundary.

There's nothing inside or outside of ministry that's worth losing your health over. Unhealthy time commitments and unrealistic expectations will, over time, make you nuts. All the medication in the world can't balance overcommitment or lunar expectations. You have to set this boundary.

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