Work Boundaries

I recently asked the following question on Facebook:

“How many hours do you work each week?”

Do you know what I found out?

The average answer was 51 hours.

Not surprisingly, I came to the conclusion that many of us are working too much.

I don’t have any problem saying if you are consistently working for than 50 hours per week you are working too much. (Understand there may be a season where you do work more than 50 hours, but it should be the exception and not the norm.)

One of the biggest challenges with work and ministry is creating healthy boundaries.

Church, spouse, children, job and friends all seem to blend together.

Ask yourself some hard questions:

  • Do you have a hard time saying no?
  • Do you take a regular day off?
  • Does your supervisor regularly dump extra stuff on you?

If you are going to be in the race for the long haul you need to know how and when to say NO.

When I first started in ministry I did not know how to say “No”. I never took a day off.  I was putting in 60 – 70 hours per week.

Worse yet, I lied to myself saying, “I am working for the Lord, so this is a good thing.”

Think about it. Does God really want me working 70 hours per week?  Wasn’t He the One who created the concept of a day off?

The good news is, that if you establish healthy boundaries in your life and ministry, ultimately you will reach more people for Christ and enjoy your life more.

Here are some tips for creating healthy boundaries in work and/or ministry

1.         Your work is not God.

Don’t put your work for God, before your relationship with God. If you are too busy to pray and read the Bible, you are busier than God ever meant for you to be.

2.         Fight for your day off.

Establish at least one day every week for you and your family.

  • Do not read your emails on your day off.
  • Do not think about work on your day off.
  • Have some fun on your day off!

3.         Listen to your spouse.

Debbie and I have always served together. This has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that we are always talking about the ministry.

We have this agreement that if one of us says, “I don’t want to talk about ministry right now” then we change the subject.  People say that ministry is 24/7, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

4.         Create a “Not To Do List”.

When you write out your “To Do List” also create a “Not To Do List”.

If you are going to do something new, you will have to give up something you are currently doing.

5.         Learn how to say “No” to your boss.

Early on I had a really hard time saying “No”to my boss, because I wanted to please him. (I think most of us feel this way.)

This is what I learned to do:

If my pastor asked me to do something new, and I had the time to do it I would say, “Yes”.

If it made me “feel” overwhelmed, I would respond by saying something like this, “This is the current project I am working on. I can take on the new project, but I will have to put the current project on hold. Which one do you want me to work on?”

This is better than saying, “No, I don’t have the time,” because it gives my boss the steering wheel.  If my boss wants me to change and work on something new, it’s no sweat off of my nose. I work for him.

6.         Turn off your smartphone.

Boundaries with work have become “more fuzzy” with the increase of technology.

  • Plan breaks from emails and Facebook.
  • Be present when your family is around.
  • Life is a marathon not a sprint.

If you feel “burned out”, it may mean it’s just time to create some boundaries.

What are some things you are going to put on your “Not to do list”?

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