I was a high school science teacher for 16 years. I brought work home every evening, whether to finalize plans for the next day, to grade papers, to plan a project, complete field trip forms, I worked nonstop. On Sunday, after church, it was time to get back in gear for the work week, boys’ lunches, lesson plans, laundry, changing linens, all of that. After becoming an administrator, I continued to bring work home because some days were consumed by meetings and I didn’t want to be rude and send emails or work on projects during the meetings, so I would bring it home.
For the past 3 years, I have worked with a young man from a different generation and I’ve begun to learn about boundaries. On Wednesday we received an email request from our supervisor, an urgent request, at 4:58pm. He proceeded to pack up and leave, while I was going to stay after to fulfill the request. “Boundaries,” he said. “She asked at 4:58pm. That means send it by 9:00am tomorrow.” I had not considered that, but it’s a helpful way of thinking.
My parents taught me about boundaries in dating, but not as they pertain to what we now call our “work-life balance.” They worked nonstop and I inherited that practice. I am currently involved in quite a few projects. Some of these projects are my own initiatives, others are dictated by work, and a few are things I’ve agreed to help with. I am learning to be careful what I agree to do.
Twice Jeshosophat, king of Judah, agreed to assisting other kings in battles they wanted to start. He didn’t just agree to have their backs if needed, he stated, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” (1 Kings 22:4, 2 Kings 3:7) In the first instance, he did say, “First seek the counsel of the Lord.” (1 Kings 22:5) In battle, King Ahab put Jehosophat out on the front lines as a target, but the Lord protected him from harm. In the second instance, when invited to join King Joram, they did not pray first, but in their desperation when they ran out of water they went to see the prophet Elisha for a Word from the Lord. (2 Kings 3)
Setting boundaries is an important practice. We must consider our boundaries as we consider which causes to join, how much time we are willing to spend at home doing work, and which organizations we will align ourselves with. I have had to upset a few people when I could not join their cause. The Lord has given me plenty to do without also taking on the projects of others. This week I was asked to direct a renewal of vows ceremony. I was honored and immediately accepted the invitation. These are two people I know and love and they want to publicly pronounce the continuance of their marriage - yes, I will help! I believe God has a calling on my life and I cannot allow all of my time to be consumed with projects He did not call me to complete. I also have to be careful of delving into projects that pop into my own mind that may not be of Him. He allowed me to take some time off from writing this weekly message, but now He says, I must restart. I wrote a novel in 2020 and have done nothing with it. Now, He says, I must get it out there. He sent me several reminders, as signs, then He sent me a text from someone who desires to make the cover. I say all of this to say, If I tell you NO, please understand. I’m trying to walk in my calling and I must set boundaries. Amen.