Despite what you may think, you actually love boundaries. Don’t believe us? Natalie Jones, founder and president of Parent Compass, takes us through Scripture to see what God has to say about boundaries and how He has lovingly placed them in our lives.
What impact have boundaries had on your life?
Natalie: When I think about what impact boundaries have had on my life, I realize boundaries can impact everything. Boundaries represent the choices we make daily, usually choosing between right and wrong. Breaching boundaries can set our lives on a course that we do not want to go.
Right now, God is teaching me that there is a number one boundary. Jesus even talks about this boundary as being number one. What boundary could that possibly be? I learned it from the reverse angle in the verse, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Resisting the devil is really setting a boundary to not sin. As it says in the Lord’s prayer, we can pray not to fall “into temptation” and to be “delivered from evil.” But not sinning is almost impossible! The Bible says, “All have sinned.” How can we possibly resist the devil and not sin?
Interestingly the first part of that verse tells us how. The whole verse says, “Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” It gives us the answer. The only way to resist the devil is to submit ourselves to God. How great it is! God fights the battle for us! Only God can defeat Satan. In fact, he has already defeated him through what Jesus did on the cross! So, we already have victory, if we choose God! This is, of course, in the big picture, but it applies to the choices every day. As Proverbs 3:6 says, “in all your ways submit to God, and He will direct your paths.”
How is this the number one boundary? Jesus says the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) While on earth Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15) So the number one boundary is to know God and love him staying within his loving commands. Living outside God’s commands is sin. Said differently, setting a boundary of being “imitators of God” as the Bible asks us, following Jesus and doing His will is number one. We are not to cross the line outside of God’s plan. How do you know, more specifically, where that boundary is? The question we can ask is, “Does it match the Bible?” If your decision matches up with what is right to do in the Bible, then you’re safe.
Why do you think boundaries are often seen as a negative thing?
Natalie: Yes, it seems boundaries can often be thought of with a negative connotation. Boundaries can be seen as restricting us, keeping us from whatever we might want to do. That is often because what is outside the boundary may be fun or pleasurable, especially as defined by the world or the culture. Researchers have found that on playgrounds without fences, the children tended to gather around the teacher, and were reluctant to stray far from her view. The researchers concluded that with a boundary, in this case a fence, children felt more at ease to explore the space. (Maya King).
Jesus loves to take what the world thinks and turn it upside down. In reality, whether we realize it or not, we love boundaries! They make us safe, give us joy, and allow things, short or long term, to go well with us. God’s commands in the Bible lovingly give boundaries for what is best for our joy, happiness and goodness. Many times, the Bible says that God gives us these commands so that it will go well with us. And in the Bible, eight times, including Jesus, himself, says that God gave these commands so that we may have joy. As in John 15:11, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” In John 15:10, Jesus says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love." God says, if we have the boundary of following God’s commands, we will have joy and love.
Instead of restricting us (as we might think) boundaries actually set us free. Free from consequences, free by preventing lifelong tragedy, free in spirit. As Psalm 119:32 says “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” Jesus says at the start of his ministry in Luke 4:18 that he came to release the prisoners from sin. We are set free. In my NIV Bible entitled Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit (Advocate), Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—” John 14:15-16.
Notice how keeping the commands allows the Holy Spirit in. Sin (or disobeying) blocks God in areas of your life, so keeping that boundary to follow God’s commands opens up the way for the Holy Spirit to come in. The Holy Spirit brings the fruit of “love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23. This is the fruit needed for every situation that sets our heart free!
What types of boundaries will you usually need to create at work, at home, or at church?
Natalie: Although I have worked at IBM and Frito-Lay, graduated from Wharton with an MBA, and worked in venture capital, for me, work and church are combined, since my nonprofit is a ministry. But whether it is work, home or church, a difficult boundary for me – that I can cause myself - is overwork. The other side of that boundary is rest. Data in Hubspot's “Why Overworking Is Bad For Your Health” shows overwork is especially a problem for the three countries where employees work the longest hours: the U.S., South Korea, and Japan. Overwork is shown to lead to heart disease. White-collar workers who worked three or more hours longer than a normal, seven-hour day had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems than white-collar workers who didn't work overtime. Overwork can also impair sleep, get in the way of good habits, lead to heavy drinking and diabetes, and in the end has been shown to not necessarily lead to more output.
What does God say about overworking? God certainly does not intend us to overwork. One of the Ten Commandments includes a day of rest (Exodus 16:23).“For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord.” Exodus 31:15. Rest is a blessing God gives us, allows us and wants us to have. Exodus 33:14 says, “The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
When I lived in London, England, my five children were young, and my youngest was a baby at the time. Then, September 11 happened. Three thousand people were killed by the two planes flying into the World Trade Center. My community in London was a microcosm of the World Trade Center. My children were going to the American school and we went to the American Church. Every businessman seemed to have a branch at the World Trade Center. Each of my two boys in elementary school ended up with close friends they had just met in their class whose fathers would have been killed at the World Trade Center had they had not been transferred to London two months before.
About a year later the Lord called me to do a September 11 commemoration in London. It ended up being the second largest, second only to the invitation-only commemoration held by the Queen. The majority of the work and planning took place two months before. Westminster Central Hall near the Parliament donated their historic location (which should’ve cost $6,000 for the evening) for free. A famous church choir donated their time to sing. Scotland Yard gave airport-like security for free.
I completely overworked this event. Yes, the Lord told me to do the event, but I overworked it. I overworked it so much that after it was over, I had no desire to do any church ministry work again. I think my husband would’ve been in agreement.
Yet, within a short weeks’ time, I felt overwhelmingly that I should call the Billy Graham Association, which I’ve never done in my life before. I fought calling for a full week before I obeyed. I then ended up being Church Relations Central Coordinator for Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz’ Just Give Me Jesus women’s conference. As my husband said before I made the original call, “Don’t let it affect the family”, I made a commitment/ boundary to only work on Just Give Me Jesus during the hours the children were at school. Although it took commitment, I actually found that boundary freeing and restful, so I could be free to be with the people I loved when they were with me.
Let's talk about boundaries for emotions or situations where your emotions might cause you to make the wrong choice. What do those boundaries look like and how do you "train" yourself to stick to them in those situations?
Natalie: This is a good question. If you really conquer the answer to this question, you have a lock on peace in your life. Looking at boundaries for emotions or situations where your emotions might cause you to make the wrong choice ties well to that most important choice or boundary of choosing to love God and do his will. This is what we talked about in the first question.
There are three key things I would say in answer that are close to my heart in how they have made a difference for me.
Don’t let your feelings drive the train.
When we let our feelings drive the train, it can go out of control. We as Christians do not depend on feelings or emotions, but we place our faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and the promises of His Word.
An example of outburst of emotion happened to my sister in the workplace, where she was a manager. One of the people working for her yelled loudly in anger at another in front of a number of other employees. My sister brought the person, who yelled, into her office the next day, talked with him about it and told him, if it happened again, he would be let go. In the workplace, it is imperative, albeit difficult at times, to be able to discuss tactfully and graciously, working to stick to the facts and not make it personal.
Ask for more of the Holy Spirit.
“…how much more will your father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13
God tells us to ask for the Holy Spirit! And he promises to give to those who ask!
As I mentioned earlier, the Holy Spirit is love, peace and joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All of those are critical to handling emotions and relationships. The Bible tells us that to get them, we need but ask. Note, the last one that I often overlook: self-control. With self-control we have the ability to speak kindly and gently the way we are supposed to even in the face of anger.
Do not worry, but pray about everything and God promises to give you the peace of God.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus says that worries of this world are one of the things that will choke out our fruitfulness in this life. But Philippians 4:6-7 gives the antidote,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I have found that it helps me to confess my worry as a sin so that God can take it away. Difficult as it may be, we can ask God to help us not to worry, so our emotions don’t get carried away. If we pray, God promises he will give us his peace and strength to be able to speak and act in our difficult situations.
Therefore, the key boundary comes in submitting to God, resisting temptation, and staying happily within his will for our lives.
With a struggling childhood of a mother divorced twice, understanding what parents face and in love with Jesus, Natalie Jones is Founder and President of Parent Compass television series that has been aired in more than 100 countries with more than 300 million reach, translated into three languages Farsi ( Iran, Afghanistan, Europe), and Turkish (95Million Muslim reach) and Spanish.
Two-time Telly Award-winning, Parent Compass is the first series to use Christian families to show God in contemporary problems. It is true stories told by real parents from a variety of different backgrounds facing a variety of different struggles, but the compass is the same. The compass is Christ. It is families coping with the stresses of modern life through the grace of God. One of the families in Season 1 included the child star of the hit movie, War Room. Her parents were Dr. Tony Evans' niece and Executive Director. Life Chats were with Anne Graham Lotz, Kay Arthur, June Hunt and the Benham Brothers. Season 2 launches on May 24, 2019. To receive shows, subscribe for free by clicking here or on the green button on website ParentCompass.TV.
Natalie has been married 31 years to her husband, Neil, and enjoys spending time with her four sons and one daughter. In a previous daredevil life, she climbed an active volcano and parachuted from an airplane – but foresees a quieter life to come!
Natalie worked at IBM, Frito-Lay and later in venture capital. She has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business where she graduated (with Beta Gamma Sigma Honors )- top 25 out of over 800.
Sign up to receive our Weekly Blog Email and get blogs like this delivered right to your inbox!