Boundaries are like drawing a circle around yourself: you get to decide what you allow in and what energy you expend. You have all the power to make the choices, but many of us have learned to have more fluid boundaries. Some of us are “people pleasers” and say yes to whatever is asked of us. Others have issues with time and are always running late because they are trying to cram so much into one day. We create boundaries with our work, our family, friends, and even with our own selves. We may need to set boundaries to prioritize (or have any time for) our faith.
We encounter boundaries regularly, both those we set, and those others set. Setting our own boundaries is not a “one and done” task. Rather, as situations change, or we meet new people, start a new position, etc., we must set them again. We can have good boundaries in one area of our life, and struggle in another. Personally, I am better at setting boundaries around work than with my family of origin. Scripture can help us, as we read stories about people with both good and questionable boundaries.
- As we begin, identify the areas of your life where you have good boundaries.
What areas could use a little work? Spend a few minutes thinking, writing, or sharing with a partner.
Read MatthewA tax collector who became one of Jesus' 12 disciples More 5:33-37 and James 5:7-12
- When have you said “yes” to something when you meant to say “no”? Did you feel resentful?
Read Proverbs 14:10 and Matthew 14:22-23
- We also need boundaries for our personal well-being. What brings you joy? What do you have to say “no” to so that you have time for what brings you joy?
- When do you pray? What method works best for you? (Examples: eyes closed, walking, or writing, etc.)
- When or how do you make time to nurture your faith? What helps you feel close to God?
Read Matthew 12:46-50
- JesusJesus is the Messiah whose life, death, and resurrection are God's saving act for humanity More redefines the typical definition of family. Could this be the permission some of us need to set boundaries with family members?
- Is there a family member, friend, or colleague to whom you have difficulty saying “no”? Is there a boundary you wish you could draw in a relationship? What would it look like? What keeps you from creating the boundary?
Read the story in 2 Kings 5:1-19 about Naaman’s healing. As you read, consider any boundaries the characters have.
- What boundaries can you identify in this story?
- What misunderstandings happen?
- How does NaamanSyrian military leader healed of leprosy by Elisha More handle it when ElishaMiracle working prophet who succeeded Elijah. More sends a messenger with instructions?
- How does Elisha respond to Naaman’s offer of a gift?
- Can you think of a time when you took someone’s boundary as an affront? What happened next? Was it ever resolved?
- Can you think of other biblical stories where a lack of boundaries caused problems?
- Who in your personal or professional network is good at boundaries?
- Think of a boundary that you have kept. Write or share with a partner about that boundary. What has helped you maintain it?
- Consider a boundary you would like to make for your health and happiness. What keeps you from drawing that boundary?
For further study:
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
This Bible study is cross-posted from The Faith+Leader. Faith+Lead offers this way to connect with God through Scripture for personal or congregational use.