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To Build A Fence

Darrell Fraley

Redrawing Your Boundaries

There are three key things you can do to keep your boundaries in line or to redraw them.

1. Speak to a trusted mentor. Talk to someone completely objective who isn't connected to your ministry. If you don't have such a person, get busy and find someone; you need someone to be a gatekeeper in your life.

2. Talk to your supervisor. After talking with your mentor and specifically identifying what the boundary issues are, talk to your supervisor. You may be surprised to find that your supervisor is already aware of your boundary weaknesses.

3. Do the math. If there's a lack of resolution, determine if there's still 60 percent of your job that you love or if the percentages have tipped your position to an unbearable proposition. If so, you need to leave for your sanity, the good of your family, and ultimately the good of the church.

Darrell Fraley is a children's minister and author in Portland, Oregon.

Boundaries And Burnout

What can you do to help teachers establish boundaries to prevent burnout?

Encourage teachers to get help from family members and friends. Others can help prepare activities, sort and cut out resource kit items, gather teaching pictures, organize supplies, wash toys, and do numerous other tasks to make teaching more manageable.

Give teachers a break. Suggest other tasks a burned-out teacher can do to take a break from interacting with children directly in the classroom, for example, coordinating the preschool security system, organizing the resource room, creating bulletin boards, or fixing and serving snacks.

Derail the guilt trip. Don't be afraid to let a burned-out teacher go to part-time teaching or take a break for a year to get recharged. If the situation is handled well, the teacher may return the next year with a wonderfully renewed spirit.

Know what's going on in teachers' lives. A teacher who cares for aging parents, deals with a troubled teenager at home, has a shaky marriage, recently experienced a miscarriage or death in the family, or has health or financial problems may simply need a short break.

Guard each teacher's time. It's easy to depend on the same trained people, but you should avoid overusing anyone. Don't ask regular Sunday morning teachers to also work on Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, or at other times. Keep them fresh by tending their boundaries for them.

Deena Williams Newman
Rockledge, Florida

Boundaries Beliefs

A few wrong beliefs can keep you from establishing healthy boundaries. So understand what's at the root of these beliefs -- and how Jesus established his boundaries.

Boundaries Belief: I can't say no to anything because I want people to approve of me.
What's at the Root: This belief comes from a lack of personal identity and often reveals an underlying sense of shame, guilt, and insecurity.
What Jesus Did: Jesus wasn't afraid to say no. After a full day of teaching and preaching, the crowds followed Jesus. When he saw the crowds, he and the disciples got in a boat and pushed out to sea so they could be alone (Matthew 8). Jesus' identity wasn't wrapped up in what people thought of him.


Boundaries Belief: The only way I can find meaning in life is through meeting others' needs.
What's at the Root: This need to be needed often masks low self-esteem.
What Jesus Did: Because Jesus knew who he was, he was able to serve freely -- not to have his needs met. Before Jesus washed the disciples' feet, Scripture says, "Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father." He knew who he was. So in the next verses, he served freely and said that this was an example to us (John 13).


Boundaries Belief: I have a right to protect and love myself by setting boundaries.
What's at the Root: You're the only one who can set those boundaries, but at the root of this statement is a self-centered focus.
What Jesus Did: Jesus said, "I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:24-25). All of Jesus' decisions were based on what was right for the kingdom of God, not for him.

-- Christine Yount Jones

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