The knock on my door created a dull ache in my stomach. I knew who it was. One of the students I was discipling had developed a habit of dropping by whenever she was bored—which was many times each week. I had prayed for a deeper relationship with her, but now I felt invaded.
Discipling others requires letting people into our already busy lives; it is no small task limited to a certain evening each week. However, neglecting our personal responsibilities or our own spiritual growth for the sake of others is not only harmful to us but sets a negative example for those we are trying to help.
Finding the proper balance between sharing your life and having a life can be challenging. Jesus’ interaction with the people of Capernaum (Luke 4) provides guidelines for establishing appropriate boundaries in our discipleship relationships. After an exhausting ministry stint, Jesus pulled away from people to pray.
Finding time alone is never easy, but it is possible—and necessary. If Jesus needed time alone to hear from God, then we certainly do.
Some may argue that setting ministry boundaries is selfish. But when we look at Jesus’ life, we see that the purpose of setting limits is not to protect us from giving to others at all, but to help us love others intentionally and purposefully.