Boundaries and Your Work


Romans 12:2

Can you develop gifts? A reporter once said to George Bernard Shaw: “You have a marvelous gift for oratory. How did you develop it?” Shaw retorted, “I learned to speak as men learn to skate or cycle, by doggedly making a fool of myself until I got used to it.”

In a Sunday school class they had been studying Adam and Eve. A little boy spoke up and said, “I don’t like Adam and Eve because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have to clean up my room!” It sounds just like a child, thinking that the Garden of Eden was filled with pleasure and leisure. Work isn’t always fun.

Work existed before the Fall; it was always part of God’s plan for humanity.
God gave humanity two jobs. (Gen 1:28) God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” The two jobs? Subdue and rule. Gen 2:20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

Our difficulties came later after the fall. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

We all have a vocation, a “calling” into the service of this world we live in.
Wherever we work, whatever we do, we are to do it as if we are doing it for God. Therefore, our labor (our work) becomes a spiritual activity. In our work, we are made in the image of God, who Himself a worker, a manager, a creator, a developer, labored for six days creating the world.

A lack of boundaries in our workplace creates problems. (1) Getting saddled with another person’s responsibilities. All of us who have co-workers have faced the challenge of doing someone else’s job. It is enough to do your own job and it becomes important to establish our boundaries with our co-workers.
Their anger isn’t as hurtful as their poor work habits. If they get angry at you for saying no, be firm about your boundaries and empathize with their anger. Don’t get angry back. Keep your emotional distance and say, “I am sorry if this upsets you, but that job is not my responsibility.”

(2) Working too much because of misplaced priorities. One can work all hours and make a lot of money but if we lose our families and other significant things in our lives, we have lost what is important. Jesus said, What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Set boundaries on your work that, is not allowed to cross. Review your job description and discuss these issues with your boss. Jethro, helped Moses establish boundaries on his work load. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. When Charles Schwab, the president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation was given advice by Ivy Lee, a consultant. Schwab agreed to pay Ivy Lee “anything within reason” if Lee’s suggestion worked. Lee later handed the executive a sheet of paper with the plan: Write down the most important tasks you have to do tomorrow. Number them in order of importance. When you arrive in the morning, begin at once on Number 1 and stay on it until it is completed. Recheck your priorities, then begin with No. 2. . . then No. 3. Make this a habit every working day. Pass it on to those under you. Try it as long as you like, then send me your check for what you think it is worth. That one idea turned Bethlehem Steel Corporation into the biggest independent steel producer in the world within five years. How much did Schwab pay his consultant? Several weeks after receiving the note, he sent Lee a check for $25,000, admitting it was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned.

(3) Difficult people to work with. You only have the power to change yourself. You can’t change another person. You attitude is the key to the joy of working.

(4) Expecting too much from the workplace. People increasingly come to the workplace wanting the company to be a “family.” The workplace ideally should be supportive, safe, and nurturing. But the workplace is not your family. The workplace will ask from you without giving because they are going to pay you for your work.

(5) Disliking your job. Boundaries establish our identity. Our work is part of our identity in that it taps into our particular giftedness. Finding our life’s work involves taking risks. One must firmly identify his/her identity. One must have ownership of how we feel, think and want. One must assess his/her talents and recognize one’s limitations. One must be lead by the Holy Spirit.

John Smith was a loyal carpenter, working for a very successful building contractor who called him into his office one day and said, “John, I’m putting you in charge of the next house we build. I want you to order all the materials and oversee the whole job from the ground up.” John accepted the assignment with great enthusiasm and excitement. For ten days before ground was broken at the building site, John studied the blueprints. He checked every measurement, every specification. Suddenly he had a thought. “If I am really in charge,” he said to himself, “why couldn’t I cut a few corners, use less-expensive materials, and put the extra money in my pocket? Who would know the difference? Once the house is painted, it will look just great.” So John set about his scheme. He ordered second-grade lumber, but his reports indicated that it was top-grade. He ordered inexpensive concrete for the foundation, put in cheap wiring, and cut every corner he could, yet he reported the purchase of much better materials. When the home was completed and fully painted, he asked the contractor to come and see it. “John,” said the contractor, “What a magnificent job you have done! You have been such a good and faithful carpenter all these years that I have decided to show my gratitude by giving you this house you have built, as a gift!”

Boundaries and Our Family


Genesis 2:24-25

A busy–and wealthy–grandfather phoned his grandson to cancel an appointment to go to the movies. The grandson did not seem interested in his grandfather’s reasons for his cancellation. Instead, the grandson kept interrupting his grandfather’s apology by asking him to make the sound of a frog. Finally, the grandfather asked his grandson why it was so important that he make the sound of a frog. “Because,” the little boy explained, “I just heard Dad tell Mom that we can’t afford to go to Disneyland until you croak.”

We do not develop habits of genuine love automatically. We learn by watching effective role models – most specifically by observing how our parents express love for each other day in and day out. A house is built of logs and stone, of piles and posts and piers; A home is built of loving deeds that stand a thousand years.

Encouragement in a family is like a peanut butter sandwich–the more you spread, the better the sandwich sticks together.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Marriage is a vow that one man and one woman make to each other. A vow is a solemn promise or pledge that binds a person to perform a specified act or to behave in a certain manner. All vows are made to God. Vowing was voluntary. But after a vow was made, it had to be performed. Vows, therefore, were to be made only after careful consideration.

Once the vows have been made to each other, boundaries have been established. By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. –Socrates In marriage fidelity becomes a boundary. One remains faithful to the person they have committed themselves too. Adultery takes place when one crosses that boundary. Sometimes it really is just about sex. But most affairs are conducted primarily on the telephone rather than in bed. Affairs aren’t as intensely sexual as you’d think. It’s not like in the movies.” The essence of an affair is in “establishing a secret intimacy with someone” — a secret that necessarily, must be defended with dishonesty. Infidelity, isn’t about “whom you lie with. It’s whom you lie to.” To think of infidelity mainly in terms of sex is actually the first step toward rationalizing it. “You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27) In marriage there is a spiritual boundary. Believers are forbidden to marry non-believers. An eight year old boy asked his girlfriend to marry him. She turned him down, saying that in her family only relatives married. She explained, “If you and me were relatives we could get married, but we’re not. In my family my daddy married my mother. My grandpa married my grandma, and all my uncles married my aunts. So you see, we can’t get married, cause we’re not relatives. The believer is forbidden to divorce the non-believer that wants to remain married. Husbands are to be the spiritual head of the home, but frankly I find more wives being the spiritual head then I do the husbands.

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. The boundary of mutual benefit. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. They become a priority to each other. (1 Cor 7:3) The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.

Apostolic Calling


A young minister was being interviewed by a church board for the position of pastor. One old hard-working Irishman, who was on the board, looked at the young man sternly and asked, “Young man, did God send you here?” He replied, “Well, I don’t know if God sent me here. I am here trying to find the will of God and find out if you would like me for your next pastor.” The board member replied, “Young man, did God send you here?” The young minister was somewhat at a loss for words and came back again, “Well, I just stopped by to talk with the board . . .” The board member interrupted again and said, “Young man, did God send you here?” Finally he skewed up his courage and said, “Well, I guess God didn’t send me here. I just stopped by to see about whether we could get together.” The old board member leaned back in his seat and said, “That’s good. The last four said that God had sent them and we had nothing but trouble with all four of them!”

Do you ever feel that the minister steps up to the pulpit on Sunday morning not as well prepared as he/she should be? I am reminded of the pastor who thought, when he had difficulty preparing a particular sermon, ‘Perhaps the Holy Spirit will tell me what to say on Sunday morning.’ This thought returned to him several times during the week, and when at last he stood silently before his congregation, he turned to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and a celestial voice said to him, ‘Tell the people you are unprepared!”‘

APOSTLE is Greek for apostolos, meaning a “delegate.” One sent with a special message or commission. The Church called those it sent on special errands apostles. Those who carried the news of the gospel were called apostles. The Jews, it is said, called the collector of the half shekel, which every Israelite paid annually to the Temple, an apostle. Those who carried about encyclical letters from their rulers were also called apostles. Paul used the word in this sense when he declared himself “an apostle, not sent from men, nor through the agency of man” (Gal 1:1), plainly indicating that his commission was directly from Christ.

The official name of the twelve disciples chosen by our Lord to be with Him during His ministry and to whom He entrusted the organization of His church were called apostles. Shortly after their ordination “He gave to them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness”; “and sent them out in pairs” to preach. As regards the apostolic office, it seems to have been preeminently that of founding the churches and upholding them by supernatural power specially bestowed for that purpose.

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:1-4)

It is at this point that we discover the difference between an Elder and a Diaconate. The Elder becomes the spiritual leader of the Church. …will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. It was the Elder who later became the bishop setting up a hierarchy in the Church. The Diaconate became an administrator of ministry. The widows who were being overlooked, needed to wait on tables.

Clearly the early Church had an informal ministry, a ministry of laity. Those chosen for leadership were ordinary folk. Qualifications were not based on training or their ability to do the job. Qualifications were based on character – the Church trusted the Christian character of the one being called.

Certainly, the Church has developed a professional clergy to do the preaching, the funerals, the weddings, and the administration of the church. Paul writes, How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Rom 10:14-15)

The clergy cannot do it by themselves, we need the help of the laity. In the Old Testament we often find the Israelites “murmuring.” What a wonderful expression. In the church we often find people murmuring, too. The only thing some people are willing to give is advice. In 1884 in Princess Ida, W. S. Gilbert wrote a verse that must surely be the feeling of some Christians:
Oh don’t the days seem lank and long, When all goes right and nothing goes wrong and isn’t life extremely flat with nothing whatever to grumble at.
Leadership is accepting people where they are, then taking them upward?

If you have knowledge of Jesus, let others light their candles at it. “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.

A Survival Guide For Those Left Behind!


In the village of Blockley in Gloucestershire, England, Joanna Southcott, won national attention due to her belief that she would bear the second Messiah, to be named Shiloh. Through the centuries many have harbored such delusions. The Shakers believed that as God came once in the male, Jesus, God would later to earth in the female, Mother Ann Lee. But Jesus is unique. There was only one Messiah prophesied. Only one Messiah came and lived a sinless life. Only one Messiah died a sacrificial death. Only one Messiah rose from the dead. Only one Messiah is coming again. There is no one like the Lord Jesus, and there never will be.

The very name Jesus, at Christmas time reminds us what it is all about. Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.

There is coming a time (yet no one knows the day or hour) when God will call all believers to Heaven. We call that moment the Rapture. Revelation tells us one of God’s angels will swing a sickle and gather the believers unto God. Paul writes, We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. One moment we are here and the next moment we are gone!

The New Testament writers speak of Christ’s returning “soon” or “quickly,” with the apparent expectation that he might return in the writers’ own lifetime. The meaning of returning “soon” is that it would happen “at any moment.” It is like my phone- answering machine. The message informs the caller that I am away from my desk but will return “soon.” I use the same message whether I expect to be gone two minutes or two weeks for the very simple reason that I want to encourage the person without revealing exactly how long I will be gone! James Sullivan points out that when it comes to the return of our Lord, “God did not put me on His Time & Place Committee; he put me on His Preparation Committee.”

What about the ones left behind? Think about it. All at once something has happened! Some of your friends who were here this morning are gone. All of the children have disappeared. Everyone is talking about this large number of people that are missing. There is a fear that grips your heart and soul. You are confused and wonder what you should do. Could it possibly be the rapture that you have heard about but never believed?

There is now a voice whispering in your ear that it is too late to have any hope. The little Ball City Baptist Church near the tiny town of Luck, North Carolina, has been closed for years. Young people moved way from the community. The older members died out one by one. But if you passed the church today you would not know that it was no longer operating. The grass is mowed, the windows are washed, the bushes are trimmed. If you looked in a window you would see artificial flowers on the pulpit, a clean floor and everything ready in case the church is ever needed again. It is all done by one 74 year old woman. Her husband was the last deacon of the church. When it closed he decided to keep it up in case it was ever needed again. Since his death his widow has carried on. Barring an unexpected growth in population the church is not likely to re-open. In a way, we do all our Christian work in the same spirit, making sure the church is always ready — and making sure we are always ready — for that day in the future when Jesus comes. But what about the one that isn’t ready?

The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ. There is still hope! But, there are two very important things that you must do and do quickly. If you fail to do these two things, you will be lost for sure. Salvation is an act of faith and at this moment you must act.

First, you must do exactly what every believer who is now missing had to do and that is confess Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” God has always offered us His love. That love has been unconditional. But we must accept that love or it is of no value. Whether we accept that love under “normal” conditions or out of fear, the importance is found in accepting that love.

Second, our acceptance of God comes with obedience to God’s will. At the end of time there will be a world leader who will offer us a “mark” which will allow us to buy and sell with great ease. In order to get the mark, we have to sell our souls to the devil. The Christian will refuse the “mark” and will be cut off from commerce. You will give up the “mark” and probably be persecuted and have to flee for your life. You may even lose your life, but you will have gained your soul.

The love and grace of God is far greater than what we can even begin to imagine. The Lord told us not only to wait for him but to watch for him, and he has pronounced a special blessing on those who watch. The difference between waiting and watching is illustrated in a story told of a Scotch fishing village. After days at sea, the skipper of a fishing boat was bringing his craft back home. As the boat neared the shore, the men gazed eagerly toward the dock, where a group of their loved ones were waiting. The skipper, looking through his glass, identified some of the women, saying, “I see Bill’s Mary, and there is Tom’s Margaret, and David’s Anne.” One man was very anxious because his wife was not there. He left the boat with a heavy heart and pressed his steps up the hill, where he saw a light in his cottage. As he opened the door, his wife ran to meet him, saying, “I have been waiting for you!” He replied with a proper rebuke, “Yes, but the other men’s wives were watching for them.”

Come, Lord Jesus, come!