17 September 2022
Lead 103: Spiritual Leadership
Boundaries: Family, Work, & Worldview
“And so, we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (New Application Study Bible, 1 John 4:16). This scripture encompasses the very nature of God. Our deepest need is to belong, so relationships give us a sense of connectedness and a purpose for our soul’s existence. Reading the book on boundaries I reflected on three aspects as I relate to my family, my career, and how I can take my Christian worldview to impact those who are spiritually lost.
My spiritual and emotional radar was broken from childhood. My father abandoned me when I was five years old. One of my stepfathers was an alcoholics and physical abuser of my mom. As a child, my need to make a connection with my family was rejected on multiple levels. So, into adulthood I married a very emotionally abusive man. I spent seventeen years twisting myself to gain approval by my spouse and family. Then a miracle happened out of my own sinful life. My son was born, and I had a great need to give him a very different life. I learned “boundaries aren’t inherited. They are built” (Cloud & Townsend, 64), so I began my journey to “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). That deep love I didn’t quit understand for my son broke what I viewed as my family curse. In the book, the authors point out three steps that enabled me to heal. First, is to experience God’s grace so I could resolve all my anger issues. “A second step is to rebuild the injured parts of your soul” (Cloud & Townsend, 116). I really had to come to terms with how my childhood was violated and allow forgiveness to take hold over my mind, heart, and soul. Lastly, I had to develop confidence in the biblical boundaries God set forth for my physical and emotional safety. God built a protective cover over me so I could rebuild my injured soul.
“Knowing the truth about God and his property puts limits on you and shows you his boundaries” (Cloud & Townsend, 37). My lack of boundaries moved from my family into my workplace. I became resentful of administration when they did not recognize my effort and extra hours I put in for free. I allowed the workplace to have a strong hold over my emotional life. I went to work angry and left even angrier. The stress was affecting my health as I just couldn’t let go at the end of the day. Even my dreams were invaded by work. As a high school counselor, I thought I could fix it all while my identity was wrecked from what I perceived as rejection and overpowering control. Then God’s intervention demanded my attention. I was hit by shingles that almost took my eyesight. It was grueling pain that took me away from work, so in a way I learned that work moved on without me and survived without me. I was struck with great sorrow and loss, but as the book points out “the work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Cloud & Townsend). I had to learn that an essential boundary was to keep work out of my home. I found a balance in that “our work is part of our identity in that it taps into our particular giftedness and the exercise of those gifts in the community” (Cloud & Townsend). I had to make the connection that work is a partnership between me and God. After my health scare, God really dug up the roots of my bitterness and once I allowed him to take the heaviness of my burdens, He guided me to follow one of my favorite scriptures. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). The authors made a great point that “your words let people know where you stand and thus give them a sense of the ‘edges’ that help identify you” (Cloud & Townsend, 36).
My identity in Christ is challenged by the school system I work in daily. It is an all-consuming worldview that is very dark, oppressive, and opposes my Christian principles and values. It is essential to teach our youth “to have an internal sense of boundaries and to respect the boundaries of others” (Cloud & Townsend, 193). Instead, the result of all the chaos, fear, and lockdowns has moved our youth into being a very lost generation. The only engagement was in a digital world for over two years. Now instead of teaching them to reconnect with life we feed into the fear and victim mentality. Instead of teaching students to be resilient, the education system leaves them in their anxiety. A generation of youth that only see themselves as a mental disability. Or the only way to gain their identity back is to wrap themselves in the destructive behaviors of being gender-fluid so if they change their outside gender then all the world’s problems will go away. Schools have inserted themselves in the realm of parenting to the point that a parent is obsolete. So, how do I as a Christian deal with a world that hates God and is set on destroying the lives of kids, families, and society as a whole?
“Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9: 23-25). I am reminded that I am to be salt and light especially in the empty dark spaces of this world. Leaning into my own boundaries has revealed to me the guilt I feel for being so passive in my role in the school system. I had to refocus my purpose in my position where I had to weigh what the cost is if I defy the systemic worldview standards I am required to uphold. The risk is that I counsel a student and/or family that is reflective of my Christian standards, so I could get written up or have a complaint filed against me. I had to ask myself if the risk is worth the loss of a positive evaluation? Then as the authors stated I had to count the cost but the bottom line is “the message of the Bible is clear: know the risk and prepare” (Cloud & Townsend, 277).
Finally, I have blurred my identity in Christ too many times, so today I will be bold and function within my boundaries as I follow God’s calling on my life and take up my cross to ensure I speak truth, take responsibility for my words and actions, and like Jesus stay tender-hearted for people. Jesus preached vehemently about not leading people astray and causing anyone to stumble. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come” (Matthew 18: 6-7). My goal after reading through the book is that I live out Proverbs 31: 8-9 which says “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Cloud, Henry, and John Sims Townsend. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life . Zondervan, 2017.
Life Application Study Bible: NIV. Zondervan, 2019.