Setting Biblical Boundaries–A Beginner’s Guide
Maybe you’ve just discovered that your manipulative friend isn’t as sweet as she pretends to be. Or the guilt your mother has been laying on you isn’t within biblical boundaries and isn’t your burden to bear according to the Bible.
You’re probably here because you realize that ‘no’ needs to become a more regular part of your vocabulary.
After all, every relationship—whether with a parent, pastor, partner, coworker, or friend—needs boundaries. They are what makes relationships healthy.
Boundaries are limits we set with others to protect our relationships and ourselves. They’re guidelines that we communicate to others regarding how we want to be treated.
Maybe you’ve just realized that you need to say no to certain people, or perhaps you’ve been avoiding setting limits for a while and it’s finally catching up with you.
What do you say we make today the day you learn to speak your NO in love?
In today’s episode we’re going to talk about how you can set guiltless boundaries.
Let’s dive in.
Here are 3 key principles and the 2 boundary barriers you’ll need to avoid:
Principle #1: Know thyself
Have you ever been given the advice to just be yourself?
Great advice, but what do you do if you don’t know who you are?
If you don’t know who you are and what you want, someone else will gladly define that for you.
To set rock-solid boundaries, you need a rock-solid identity. This may be the hardest step of all because many of us have formed our identities based upon the needs and expectations of others.
But you, my friend, are a unique creation. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe (Psalm 139:14).
So how do you get to know you? There are 3 key areas I want you to identify.
- What’s your temperament? Your temperament is your God given nature. We all have one, and we either operate in its strengths or weaknesses. My hope is that you will freely flow in all that God created you to be when you understand how God wired you. If you need help, grab my FREE What’s My Temperament Guide to get you started.
- What are your preferences? This includes your likes, dislikes, passions, annoyances, dreams and values. These are what make you different. (Yes, it’s OK to differ from others.)
- What are your needs? You can’t expect others to meet your needs until you know your needs, as mind reading is not a spiritual gift.
Establishing boundaries and getting to know yourself can feel selfish first. But you won’t be able to set healthy boundaries until you discover where the other person ends and you begin.
Principle #2: Own your stuff
Most rookies to boundaries usually arrive at the desire to declare their ‘no’ after a long time of abuse. While I have no doubt that people have taken advantage of you, putting yourself in the role of victim can feel like it absolves you of responsibility when the truth is, you had a part to play.
Now would be the time to examine what part you played in the toxic tango.
Ask yourself, ‘Was there something I was getting from the relationship that I was unwilling to give up if needed? Did I believe that my behavior could change theirs? Why did I surrender my values for their approval?’
Next you’ll want to own your feelings. Examining what’s in your heart is going to be crucial if you truly want to speak the truth in love.
Luke 6:43-44 reminds us that out of the mouth the heart speaks. If you’re harboring resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, victim mentality, or anything of the kind, your behavioral changes will be temporary at best.
Resolve the issues in your heart before you open your mouth.
Before we move on to the next step, if you are struggling with codependency—meaning that if you’re only OK when others are OK with you—there won’t be enough boundary principles to help you because a big part of the issue lies within YOU. I’m not saying that you’re at fault, nor am I saying that boundaries aren’t warranted. However, if you fear upsetting the other person, losing the relationship and what it brings (as meager as it may be), and you base your actions upon someone else’s potential reaction, then your boundaries will not work. Because you will always cave to the other person.
Remember, we’re called to be God pleasers, not people pleasers. If you need help with people-pleasing, check out my online course Conquering Codependency Biblically.
Principle #3: Communicate with clunkiness
Wouldn’t it be great if someone could just give you a script on what to say and how to say it? Well, I’m going to do that for you in just a few moments. But you still need practice. So don’t wait for perfection. Begin to communicate with clunkiness and the confidence will come.
Here are the 3 steps I want you to take when communicating your biblical boundaries:
Pray, practice, ponder.
For starters, pray. You won’t be successful at speaking the truth in love without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Next, you’ll need to practice. Here’s the boundary communication framework that I want you to follow.
“I feel ____ when you do ____, so from now on I will/won’t _____when you ____.”
It’s as simple as filling in the blanks.
Side note—if this person has shown no regard for your feelings, then simply eliminate the first part of the framework and say “From now on, I will/won’t ___ when you ____ .”
Expressing yourself this way gives the other person an opportunity to correct the error of their ways. But your boundaries are not dependent on their compliance. Let me repeat: your boundaries are not based upon their acceptance.
Examine the interaction in detail. It’s kind of like a sports team going back to the video tape. Determine where you went wrong, where you lost your cool, and how you could have done better.
Then repeat the process. Pray, practice, and ponder, and your boundaries will go from clunky to confident.
Did you know that there are 10 scriptures that prove you’re not a doormat? Catch this episode next to learn more.
Are you ready to set biblical boundaries like a boss? Check out my online course… Boundaries with Toxic family.