Challenge 60: Know Your Limit

This past month I have been doing a self check to see how I’m faring spiritually and emotionally. Periodic self checks are normal for me, always making sure that I am staying within the boundaries God has given me. My priorities are intimate time talking with God and being in His word; serving my family (my husband and children above all); and then fulfilling my ministry call of Christian discipleship and nutritional health and healing. After making my assessments I have concluded that I have stepped outside of the lines. I know have not remained in my bounds because though I haven’t been really physically tired I have been emotionally drained. I am an action person so when I see a need and believe I can fulfill it I often want to, and do, quickly meet others’ needs. Usually I am good with knowing when I’ve done too much. This time I was a little late. Now I feel like I want to hole up, turn off the phone and simply sit and stare one way from now on. But I know I can’t do that, and when you feel overwhelmed, you can’t either. We have to have our priorities in order so we can continually have the capacity to love others as God commands. To help us remain within our boundaries, I want to share with you what I typically do and what God reminded me that I have been telling others but haven’t done myself:

Self care is essential—We must have regularly scheduled time for ourselves. I have written how daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual getaways are important to my well being. Think of the places you like to go, the activities you like to engage in, and the people who pour into you, and make sure you are connecting with these on a regular basis. Your favorite places, activities and people will refresh you physically, spiritually and emotionally. When you are refreshed, you are refueled and have some fuel to give and some to keep for you.

Warfare is a mustLast week I wrote how Ephesians lays out spiritual warfare strategies for us to share with others and to employ ourselves. As an act of daily war against falling outside of your boundaries, use these strategies: Remember who you are; remember what you are called to do; remember who God is and what He has done for you; and remember to have others praying for you. When you remember who you are and what you are called to do, you can quickly recognize when you are trying to be someone you’re not nor do something you’re not meant to do. If you aren’t clear, say because the activity falls within what you are called to do, this is when you must remember who God is. He will give you direction about the season for the activity or perhaps tell you that activity is for someone else to do. We must remember that we aren’t called to do every activity that falls within our calling. Others have been similarly called. Some of the work is for them. We must know the difference.

When you care for yourself—without guilt—and war for yourself, you are engaging in necessary parts of loving others. God tells us to “love our neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). When we properly love ourselves, we can properly love others. If we are consistently loving others and neglecting ourselves we are imbalanced. Care for yourself. War for yourself. Get in balance and stay.

Take a Risk Challenge: If you don’t already have one, develop a self care strategy. Also engage in the Ephesians spiritual warfare strategies. When you care and war for yourself you indeed are equipped to show radical love to others.

Challenge 32: Point them to God

Some years ago the time came for a woman I was discipling (or spiritually mentoring) to begin to actively disciple her own group of women. She was biblically mature and emotionally mature when it came to how she handled issues in her own life, but she wanted to know, “How do you help people and not get caught up in their emotions?” She wanted to know how you could continue to direct someone who was not following your direction, not holler at that person for making wrong decisions and not let other people’s issues consume you. These were and are good questions for human beings with the God-given ability to have and express emotions. These were and are good questions for all of us who are called to—at some level—help lead someone else to a better place. And because she couldn’t reconcile these questions, she had decided she just wasn’t going to disciple anyone. Not discipling anyone should not be an option, considering discipling is THE call for the Christian (Matthew 28:18-20). I told her this and that we must remember that properly guiding someone—loving them biblically—is an act that must remain mainly outside of us. We cannot look at our investment mostly as a personal one but a spiritual one. We cannot look at our time spent as wasted when it was time that we have been commanded to take.

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”—Luke 6:32-36 (NLT)

Give, by doing good, even lending money, but expect NOTHING in return. When we disciple for our sake we expect something in return for our sake; when we disciple for God’s sake, we expect something in return for God’s sake. We expect that they will embrace a biblical way of life for every aspect of their lives and eventually give the love through discipleship to others to the glory of God. But sometimes when you love the way God tells you to love and seek to get others to look to Him, not you, for their issues, they may get mad at you for not being there for them or blame you when things don’t go right for them. They may decide to give up on you and maybe even on God. When this happens, we cannot take it personally. When you, with the greatest compassion that you have, point them to God as their healer, you must be okay that you have loved them appropriately. If they want more from you than God, you don’t have anything else left to give. After long suffering, you then can release them, knowing that you gave them the only thing you had to give. When they reject biblical wisdom and guidance, we must pray God’s mercy on them because they learned to do right and didn’t do right so they are in sin (James 4:17). We should always be looking at and pointing others to God. This is the proper way to lead people with love.

Take a Risk Challenge: This week, instead of steering clear from someone you think will drain you spiritually or emotionally, talk to them and lovingly remind them of God’s word and the power they have through Him to change their circumstances. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9—NIV).

My One Thousand Gifts List

Not being as hurt as before when hearing Joshua say to his teacher, “My mama doesn’t do anything,” his way of saying I don’t work outside of the home
Work done on my parenting column outside of my primetime working hours
Waking up (God jolting me up) to write at 4:15 a.m.
A date with my husband to see episode 1 of the incredible jazz film Icons Among Us and hearing the Sean Dobbins Quartet and a panel discussion about the film and jazz in general
Boys dressed by 10 a.m.
A play date with the Kimbrough boys
Good conversation with Tiffany
Quality time with Flynn and him with the boys because his Elder Board meeting was cancelled
Flynn packing snacks and cleaning the cooler for my trip
Arising surprisingly early and anxious to attend my writing retreat in spite of only having 3 ½ hours of sleep