Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Writing Boundaries

This year, as many of you know, I made the decision not to do any writing or speaking/promoting. Of course I am writing, because not writing would be like not breathing, but I find I am writing a little differently now days.
I am writing assignments, curriculum, learning stories and more ‘job related’ things but still it’s writing!

I have just started writing encouragements for Educators within the same service as me. Funny, I guess that I have come a full circle back to writing encouragements; back to my writing niche!

At our last Educator meeting, I shared about setting business and personal boundaries.

I have the habit of allowing my personal boundary lines to loosen and I find myself doing too much. Sometimes I think I do so much out of love, but as I read in the book ‘Boundaries’ if my ‘doing’ is causing me to feel overwhelmed and depressed then I am not motivated by love.

Why we don't set boundaries? Fear is a reason; fear we will hurt someone if we say no; fear we will be letting people down; fear of abandonment, rejection or shame; fear of being seen as selfish; fear of being seen as non-spiritual; fear of someone else's anger. Guilt is another big reason we don't set boundaries for ourselves.

A personal reason for me, is that I feel that people will like me and respect me more if I am 'doing'. I need to constantly remind myself that I am a woman of worth simply because I am a child of God. Anything I 'do' for His kingdom is great but not mandatory!

I am happy to say that I have been doing so much better in this area. At the beginning of the year I wrote a list of all the things that I needed to and wanted to commit to this year. Now when asked if I can do ‘extra’ I tell the person I’ll get back to them. I check my list, pray, speak to hubby and then with a clear head (and conscience) I can give my answer.

How about you? Are you the kind of person who easily says ‘no’ to protect your boundaries or do you say ‘yes’ and wear yourself out?!

If you are feeling overloaded, perhaps you need to sit down and write your own boundary list with the intention to stick to it!

Blessings to you,
Narelle Nettelbeck



  1. This is such a common problem. In addition to the factors you listed, I think that 'responsibility' has a lot to answer for. It seems to be natural for us to feel somewhat responsible for everything that's going on around us, and therefore it's incumbent on us to fix it. But we're not actually responsible for everything, and even if we were, we couldn't fix it all.

    This is a tricky one to reconcile theologically. I do believe that God levies great responsibilities on us, but I don't think we're supposed to discharge them to the extent that we can no longer feel 'love, joy, peace', etc.

    1. I have struggled for so long with the theological side of this Peter. It wasn't until I was crippled with panic, depression and anxiety that I realised serving til I was burnt out was not really what God had in mind for me!

  2. Hi Narelle,
    Many christians "do" things for reasons other than God wants them to and I think it is a very spiritually mature person who can sit back and discern why they constantly "do" things especially if you have beeen brought up to believe "people or even God will like me, take notice of me, think I'm great or need me" because of what I do. I pray others read this post and know that doing doesn't equal being loved by God, He loves us anyway.

  3. It took me a long time to learn to say 'no' too Narelle. Even when I had read the Boundaries book and was facilitating courses in Boundaries for others, I still had to practice my own boundary setting very diligently. I think as Christians we often learn to feel guilty saying no to anything others ask of us. It's a relief to understand the whole issue from a Godly perspective and become good stewards of our time, energy and resources. I'm glad you are feeling that you're doing better in this area. I'ts very freeing.

  4. I am thankful I learned to say no a long time ago. Before that, I feared rejection, that somehow by saying no, people wouldn't like me anymore. But, I soon discovered that they didn't hate me for saying no. In fact, I think I gained some respect. It's funny the way things work.

  5. Well done, Narelle! God bless and keep you in that place of peace at saying no to things that would overload.

  6. Thanks for your encouragement. It is still hard for me, but I find that by telling people I'll get back to them it stops me from saying yes straight away. I've also observed people around me saying no and realising that I don't like them any less!!

  7. Thanks for your post, Narelle.
    It is encouraging to read that I'm not the only one trying to take on less this year and for similar reasons. For me it is part of my attempts to live simply - if I can de-clutter my life then I am not just being simple in regards to possessions but in regards to person. It then allows me to be generous. Funny full circle really.

  8. Great post Narelle. And you've raised an excellent issue. The last decade or so of my life has brought me many challenges. I realised that the only way of getting through all of them was to have as my greatest priority, my time with God; saying 'Yes' to God and seeking His will for me. And saying 'No' when 'No' should be the answer. Takes time to learn doesn't it? But I do so want the quality of my life to be good. I know God doesn't want us to burn ourselves out. So thanks for highlighting a factor which is vital for all of us who follow Jesus. Far better to keep our light shining rather than have it snuffed out by doing too much.
    Thanks Narelle,
    Well done on doing great on that front this year.And thanks for spurring us on as well.

  9. Hi Narelle, I'm glad you're finding the right balance so you won't burn out :) I also tell people I'll get back to them before taking on a new commitment. I can be too good at saying no when it would be wiser to pray and seek wisdom first. One thing I consider is if I'm uniquely qualified to do something or if there are others who could easily take on the task. We have a God-given desire to love others and meet needs and it can be hard to discern God's will.

  10. Thanks for that timely reminder, Narelle. It's something we struggle with when we minister in Thailand each year. Sometimes more than thirty services in a little less than a month, which also includes travelling time to different provinces. It really exhausts us and each year we ask if it could be a little less. But as the time draws nearer many extra meetings come in and we cannot seem to say no. At least we have part of January to recuperate.Perhaps it's because it costs so much to go there, plus gifts to pastors, and hotel costs etc, we feel we need to work hard while we're there.

    1. Hi Narelle,
      Sounds to me like encouragement writing is your God-given niche. And after reading this post, I'm tempted to reconsider an ongoing commitment I've taken upon myself which is making me gloomy whenever it comes around.