How Personal Boundaries And Physical Boundaries Protect Ministry

Personal boundaries fall  into three categories...

  • physical...your body...your house...your desk...your purse...your time...and so forth.
  • social...the way others treat you...and how you treat various social situations.
  • psychological...thoughts...beliefs...opinions.

Physical boundaries have to do with space.  And in common speech we talk of others invading our space when they cross these boundaries.

With respect to the body...boundary violations would not only include  touching someone who does not want to be touched...but it also includes getting too physically close to someone when interacting with them...
getting "in someone's face" so to speak.

People who go through your things at home or at work violate your physical boundaries.  

Did you know that the Founders of the American Republic thought that personal physical boundaries were so necessary to the pursuit of happiness...that they they enshrined them in the Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution.  Here's what they said...

The right of the people to be secure

in their...persons...houses...papers...and effects...

shall not be violated...

And its the same in interpersonal relations.  When someone violates these boundaries...we are pretty deeply offended.  And sometimes scared.

Those who have complained about inappropriate touch from ministers have shown how costly such boundary violations can be.  The cost includes loss of ministry and loss of billions of dollars in reparation.

Time boundaries...can be violated by members of a congregation with  ministers who do not have personal boundaries to control demands on their time.

Almost all cases of burnout in ministry come from mismanagement of time. 

Many ministers think a "Do Not Disturb" sign on their door is positively un-Christian.  The same ministers don't know how to send someone on their way who is overstaying the purpose of their visit.  The use of embedded commands is a great way to end a meeting.

And you can agree or not agree to let others cross your physical boundaries.

However...some people encourage others to violate their personal boundaries like Marnie did with Nick.  Or like others do with email.

And touching other people is a very complex issue.

If someone touches you without your consent...or if you agree to the touch under duress...meaning that you didn't want the touch...then your personal boundaries have been violated.

Ministers are great huggers and engage often in non-ritual and non-liturgical touching thinking it is an important part of their ministry. And most mean well.

However...they show little understanding of two important matters...

that the meaning of the touch will be decided by the person they touch no...matter what the minister's intention was. And...

touching others was not essential to the healing ministry of Jesus.

Social boundaries...are taught from to act and what to say in the social situations that occur in our lives.  How to behave in a someone's house.  How to greet others...and take our leave from them...and so forth.

Social boundaries no longer require people to be face-to-face do they?

With the internet and all kinds of social sites, personal contact takes place in many ways.  And this can create important boundary problems for ministers.

One example is how time, location and context boundaries can be blurred when ministers give congregation members their personal email address.

Psychological boundaries...are a complex area...especially in thinking and beliefs. 

And it is quite possible to develop thinking disorders...based on erroneous beliefs...that lead to poor judgment...and boundary ministry.

For more information on these subtle thinking disorders...or thought can go from personal boundaries to thought viruses and download a FREE ebook about them.

And don't forget to...

Protect God's work
Protect yourself...your ministry...

and those to whom

God sent you to minister

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