Do you think you need to set boundaries as a pastor?
I cannot tell you how many countless times I will be on my way home to my family when someone just shows up at the office to talk. Sometimes it is a crisis, but most of the time it is loneliness. Some times they show up at my home or I meet them by chance at the grocery store. I love people, and naturally will spend all of my time and efforts to be with them. This is one of the main areas I love about pastoral ministry. That was all right when I was single, but now, as a married man, I have other priorities that need my attention. As ministers of God, (and as Christians, we are all ministers) we need to be attentive to others, be listeners, and encouragers. However, we also are not to neglect our own web of relationships and family. We cannot trade the fracture of the family for poor management of His people, thinking we are doing our best for ministry. Poor ministry and misguided self-management will fracture your family and ministry more completely than just about anything else. Thus, we need to set limits, or boundaries.
A boundary is a fence to ward off potential problems and to protect those in its guardianship. It sets a parameter to be a guide, as in computer programming where parameters keep the program in the right areas of operation. When we have those right areas of operation in our personal and ministerial lives, we will be more effective for His service. In addition, these principles are not only for all Christians, but also especially for pastors and leaders because they have more responsibility.
Developing limits with your time and church relations will not happen overnight, because you have trained your church and yourself in very ingrained patterns. Yet, it is a must-do. We have to reform, before it is too late.
Questions To Ask Yourself
1. Do you spend adequate time with your family? Do you have a regular date night with your spouse and separate family night with the kids at least once a week? If not, you are giving them over to Satan and the world!
2. Do you have a ministry that trains and equips others, or do you run the show?
3. Do you try to be too much to too many? Or, do you not only train others but also delegate?
4. Do you have unrealistic expectations for yourself as well as for others? We need to have vision and passion, but also be temperant, and allow God's timing.
5. Do you say "No," (with love and tact) and allow others to do ministry? Pastors and leaders cannot do everything or be everywhere!
6. Do you have a system of time management? Even Jesus took time off!
7. Do you take regular time off? Pastors need at least two days off a week and four weeks off each year!
8. Do you take care of yourself physically, such as eating correctly and exercising? Remember, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so do not defile it!
9. Do you have a good system to calendar and keep track of events and dates?
10. Most important, do you spend adequate time with our Lord? Do you give Him, at the very least, an hour a day?
Let these questions challenge you and spur you on to the right direction. Set up the boundaries. Boundaries are not a fence to keep others out, but are to keep good neighborly relations. They will not eliminate all of the interruptions, because for a pastor or church leader, interruption comes with the territory. We need to embrace and love our call and not be hermits to the people in our care. Boundaries create a healthier atmosphere with balance, a church that has leaders who love and care even more, because one person or group is not running the whole show.