I cannot rely on human response for satisfaction. The praise of men is like chocolate. It feels good for a short time but has little nutritional value. Often in both, the "low" that follows the "high" is remarkable. How many times until I learn this lesson (with both chocolate and with people) once and for all?
As a missionary, I chase after this praise and feed on it at times to a repeating pattern. The praise is issued from people at home, from people on the rivers, or from fellow workers. I feel pretty good about myself and begin to walk independently of my Father, only to end up feeling quite lonely days or weeks later because I’ve forsaken the only source of real joy, my Father’s pleasure.
The same weakness in me makes it difficult to say, "no". Difficulty in saying "no" is rooted in not wanting to disappoint, and this is rooted in wanting to be liked or praised. Never disappointing man is impossible and to seek after this is the same as seeking man’s praise, resulting in lonely separation from our Father.
So I need boundaries. I need to say, "no" at the risk of disappointing. I need to draw lines, create fences, that will limit intake and output. My resources are limited. My resources are limited! Oh how I need to remember this. If I empty one account of resources and continue to draw from that account to give in that area, my resources (energy, love, devotion) will be drawn from another account. In other words, another area of my life will suffer because I am too weak (or afraid) to admit that my accounts are limited and that I need to say "no" to further withdrawals. I can be like many today in the American culture, believing foolishly that if I overspend today, there will be no consequences tomorrow. Boundaries are protective, wise, and needed.
I need to remember that my boundaries are my responsibility. Others are preoccupied with their own lives and are not concerned with my boundaries. So often I get frustrated at the fifth or sixth person to come to my gate in a morning. But they have no idea what I am occupied with. From their perspective, they are one person seeking a little time and a little help. When I live without boundaries, I continue to pour out of an empty bucket, sucking dry another bucket (love for my family, for example), and I become less useful in many areas because I overspent in one. I’m learning again that lack of boundaries will steal my joy, kill my passion, and leave me without love to give, especially to those that mean the most to me.
I have been too available and said, "no" too infrequently in these last few months and am learning again the valuable lesson of having healthy boundaries. I have decided to, for the most part, say, "no" to helping people medically who live in town. I have been seeing between ten and thirty people each day out of our home. There are doctors here and, though each of my encounters involves ministry (praying for each person and discussing with each Jesus’ love for them), if I don’t say "no" to this part of my current ministry, I won’t finish the race. When I used to run marathons, I always preferred to run a bit slower and finish the race rather than push too hard too early, increasing the risk of not finishing. I have the same sense here. I am more useful out on the rivers from both a medical and a ministry perspective and when I am home, I need to see to my relationships with my kids and Bets. I can also have more time to mentor the young men in our church, which will bear more long-term fruit than medical consults. I am currently mentoring about ten men and enjoying this thoroughly. I don’t want to take any resources from this account to deal with medical concerns within the city.
Boundaries. Time and limited resources (humanness) make them necessary. What areas need reexamined in your life today from the perspective of having healthy boundaries? Let’s together take another look at our vision (our calling, our purpose) and see if we are devoting our primary time and energy to this, or is the lack of boundaries causing us to have little left to devote to what is most important to us?
In this world you will see and receive little grace (unearned favor), therefore extend grace.
Most of us would never think of building a boat and journeying to Brazil without instructions or experience, yet early in adolescence, marriage, and parenting we begin journeys infinitely more complex and yet think that we need neither instruction nor experience to journey well.
One who is humble is always learning. One who is proud never grows.
Today is greatly affected by yesterday and will significantly impact tomorrow. Focus on today.
Wherever you are, be all there. Dennis Stranges
The things of this world (success, esteem, security, pleasure, etc) are quite enticing and seek our heart. To seek them is to search for a purported great treasure that, when found, is a beautiful, empty chest.
One who follows “the crowd” loses his identity.
Our character is revealed not in how we feel about something, but rather in how we respond.
A kind word brings light and warmth to one whose day may be dark and cold.
Those who know God desperately want to know Him.
Conflict is not unhealthy. Your response to it may be.