Healthy relationships require healthy boundaries. If we do not learn how to manage the people who come to us, we will not be fit to carry out our work in God’s kingdom.
Sometimes you just need to withdraw from circumstances and people that drain your energy and focus on the work God has called you to do. The Gospels record the many times Jesus had compassion on the people He met. He saw that they did not have a shepherd. The Gospel writers point out that there were times when He ministered without eating, sleeping or resting.
Jesus also modeled a life of boundaries. There were plenty of people who wanted Him to go somewhere or do something but He would not let them sway Him. Jesus would stay in the boat allowing the people to only come so far. He would withdraw from the people or close the doors to a room, inviting only a few. He didn’t perform miracles on demand just because He had an audience or request. Jesus always knew the right time to give and the right time to withdraw.
You need to learn how to identify relationship drainers. They are people who keep you from living your life to please God. They are relationships that cause you to be out of balance and influence you to lose focus on what God has called you to do.
Jesus was mistreated, accused of being from the devil, beaten, spit upon and ultimately crucified. This only happened to Jesus because He allowed Himself to be in relationships with people and circumstances that were part of His kingdom work. Other times He slipped away so that evil schemes would be thwarted.
Matthew 14:13 describes the balance Jesus demonstrated for us:
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. He lived a life of active ministry (in this passage He feeds 5000 men plus women and children because of his compassion for those who had come to see Him in the remote place).
We Christians need to learn how to follow Jesus’ example. Our fallen human relationships require that we become wise warriors by protecting our souls from the damage our enemy wants to inflict on us by disrupting our relationships. We have to learn how to protect ourselves from the world and even sometimes from other Christians, through walking close to God and paying attention to our need for healthy boundaries in our relationships.
We all need healthy relationships that encourage us on our mission to live a life pleasing to God. In healthy relationships we are accepted unconditionally. We are energized not drained. In healthy relationships we respect one another’s different points of view. Healthy relationships involve mutual giving and support and genuine happiness when the other one has success.
We have to walk close to Jesus and embrace our limitations as evidence of God’s unique call on our lives. The reality is that living in a fallen world requires wisdom from above about when to withdraw from people and when to have compassion and give beyond our own abilities. Only a close walk with Jesus will make it clear.