Lead Yourself Well: Put Boundaries in Place

Let's be completely honest, surprise attacks will come. Being the leader makes you the target. In talking about leading yourself well, let's think of ambush being more about the ability of others or parts of life to overwhelm us, causing us to head off in a direction which has the potential to lead to a bad place. A destination which has the potential to cause harm to us and to our ability to lead.


To be alert to ambush is to know what's going on around you.

We can easily be caught off guard. Circumstances happen and we find ourselves flustered or feeling out of our depth. Our insecurities can ambush us and rid us of confidence in our ability to lead. We experience sudden changes and the response is not always as spiritual as we know it should be. Even habits or relationships which start of healthy can drift and we can then find ourselves somewhere wondering how we got there.


To avoid ambush, is to protect your leadership.

To be aware ambush can happen, will happen, is to protect your leadership.


Put some boundaries in place. Stick up a guardrail. Erect some kind of limit. Have a filter for decisions. Personal standards of behaviour that become a matter of conscience. Let them reflect your core value and provide much needed protection for you, your future, along with the success or otherwise of your leadership.


The right boundaries help us to live free and stay free. The right boundaries can help us to flourish. Yet we put the wrong kind of limits on ourselves. Henry Cloud says, "Good boundaries, both those that help us manage ourselves and lead others, always produce freedom, not control".


Why put some boundaries in place?

There are 3 good reasons why we should put boundaries in place:


  1. To swap chaos now for minimum damage later. We can talk ourselves out of any boundaries. We don't need them. And then, suddenly, we do. Culture might say no to such an attitude. 'You can do whatever you like'. 'Just be you.' It encourages you in a behaviour but then shames you when that behaviour grabs you and damages you. Boundaries are hard to put in place. You may not be celebrated but you will live with fewer regrets.

  2. To help us behave with good judgement. The Apostle Paul told us to 'walk carefully, to exercise wisdom, to not be unwise' [Ephesians 5:15-17]. Like a parent who sees that your being with certain people is not good for you, we may have felt it was judgemental but it wasn't, it was them helping us to exercise good judgement. Boundaries are built on wisdom, which can become the template for our decision-making. Like the core values we have already talked about, boundaries help us say yes and no to the right things.

  3. Because one thing leads to another. In verse 18 the Apostle is clear, do not get drunk with wine because it leads to something else. Thoughts lead to. Behaviours can lead to. Loss of self-control leads to. One thing leads to. Boundaries stop us from handing over control of our lives to something or someone. The make it harder to just go with it.

Boundaries can work in all areas of life. Here's my list. You may add others.

  • Perspective & attitude

  • Speech

  • Time

  • Relationships

  • Social media

  • Materialism

  • Emotions

  • Finance

  • Health

  • What we watch/read

  • What we consume

The Boundary Setting Challenge:

Take 15 minutes.

Pick an area.

Think about the dangers of ambush within this area.

Where is your limit?

Where does it need to be?

Maybe it needs bringing in a little. Maybe a boundary needs to be put in place.

Write down the boundary. Make it clear, easy to understand.

Find a trusted friend who you will give permission to keep you accountable to the boundary.

Then repeat the process.


Setting boundaries does not mean you will never make mistakes. You can easily ignore it, step over it, move it. They are just another part of building the right kind of life to help us lead ourselves well, which in turn, makes it more likely that others would choose to follow us, to allow us to be their leader.


Reverse Boundary Setting:

Let me finish with this thought. We need boundaries in many areas of our lives to protect us from ourselves. To help us make better decisions and to not be overcome by an ambush. We have either not had any boundaries or they field of play has been to wide which has given us permission to get away with stuff that has not helped us.


Yet in other areas of our lives we need to move the boundary line outwards. We need to extend them so we can experience more of the right kinds of things. Those leadership characteristics and attributes which make us attractive to others, help us to be great role models and see us living a life based more on God's Word rather than what we might consider is acceptable.


How about we use finance as an example:

We need a boundary which helps us monitor our spending, so we put a budget in place and determine to live to it. We set the boundary line or bring it in, and some much needed control gets put in place.


However, a reverse boundary may also need to be set. To extend the boundary outwards to reflect a desire for greater generosity. Not be reckless or careless but within the boundary of the budget we increase this arena of our lives. We lead ourselves well in our finances and instead of being known as spend-thrift we become known as generous.


I would love to hear your thoughts on this idea. What are the challenges and the benefits to doing this? What do you think about the 'reverse boundary' idea?


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