Where’s the Boundary? A Helpful Ten-Point Test

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If boundaries are less about rigid rules and more about a way of thinking about relationship; then what principles should serve to guide a ministry leader in setting helpful boundaries? A hard and fast set of rules can’t possibly be applied to every context and the vast array of situations and relationships faced in ministry. How then should one determine where to place healthy boundaries? 

Below are 10 Moral Tests, which can be used to help guide in determining healthy relational boundaries in ministry.

  1. The Bullhorn or Transparency Test: How would my actions be perceived if they were made public?
  2. The Test of Fiduciary Responsibility: Whose needs are being met? Are my actions in the best interest of the one that I am ministering to?
  3. The Ministry Service Test: What ministerial service am I providing? And what is included in that ministerial service? What is not included?
  4. The Collegial Accountability and Supervision Test: How do my supervisor and colleagues respond when I report my behavior? (Am I willing to honestly share my behavior with them?)
  5. The “Do No Harm” Test: Who is put at risk by my actions?
  6. The Staying Above Reproach Test: How might my behavior be perceived by others? Am I avoiding any appearance of impropriety?
  7. The Dependency Test: How important or indispensable do I feel in this relationship? Being needed by others is a powerful form of dependency. Ministry is not about me.
  8. The Dependency Test 2: Does the person I’m ministering to show signs of emotional dependency?
  9. The Precedent Test: What kind of precedent am I setting? Am I setting a precedent or creating a culture that accepts certain behaviors that could put someone at risk.
  10. The Exception Test: Do I feel that for some reason this situation or relationship is an exception to the usual rules and limits?
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