Monday, August 22, 2011

Help with Boundaries

Pastor Dave is an excellent pastor. Back in 2002 I sat mesmorized by his kind and gentle approach to teaching the gospels. Pastor Dave is one of the most endearing and loving individuals you will ever meet. I always sat in the front row of church service at Alethia Church in Harrisonburg, VA as I wanted to soak in every single word from Pastor D. Pastor D has a real gift for speaking and he has an even bigger heart for service to others. Pastor D is the ultimate in helping others out. He would always invite me to dinner with his family every Tuesday night. Man was that food good! As a broke Master's students back then I really appreciated those meals and the fellowship with his family. Pastor D just knew how to help others in need, but he also said something that has always stuck with me and that I follow to this day. He said, "Darian, go out and help others and be a vessel for good things, but when you do so help with boundaries." About nine years later I heard my current pastor at Central Christian Church, Judd Wilhite, say the same thing to the congregation, "help with boundaries."

The concept of helping with boundaries is an excellent way to serve others while also creating parameters for that help. When anyone makes an honest effort and committment to give back to others it can be easy to get taken advantage of. And in many instances, the people you are helping may monopolize your generosity because someone is actually taking the time to be there for them in their lives. While it is an amazing feeling to help others it is so important to create a healthy and respectful environment for help to occur.

Here are three simple ways to create a healthy helping environment:

1. The Wills and Will Nots

An easy way to create a healthy helping environment is to discuss with the person you are helping the "wills and will nots" of helping that person. Tell the person what you will help them with and what you will not help them with. This creates a perimeter that protects both parties from going overboard.

2. They Must Move Towards Helping Themselves

Expanding upon the "wills and will nots," make sure to tell the person you are helping that they must move towards helping themselves in order to continue to receiving help from you. This let's the person being helped know that your help is contingent upon meeting certain criteria for helping themselves. It also teaches the person to learn to show up more often in their own life and have more personal accountability.

3. Evaulate Your Help

Last, but not least, you need to evaluate whether your help is still needed in the same fashion after a certain amount of time. While it is a wonderful feeling to help others, you as the helper must always evaluate the effects of your help and if things need to be changed.

Overall, if you would like to serve others in an honest and meaningful way, you must do it with boundaries in order to avoid burnout and/or being taken advantage of. Additionally, it helps the person being helped to become more self-sufficient while learning how to help someone else in a healthy way. The key is to create a healthy environment on both sides of the equation.

Thanks and until next time...

Dr. D

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