How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Ministry : Lysa TerKeurst

How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Ministry - Lysa TerKeurst - 29 FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

As ministers we have a heart to encourage, to bless, and to engage with people relationally. However, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves emotionally drained and mentally fatigued if we are not setting healthy boundaries, but the question is, how do we set good boundaries and continue to serve those around us? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, has written 25 books, including her latest Good Boundaries and Goodbyes. Together, Lysa and Jason discuss how setting good boundaries actually helps us live more fully into the calling that God has on our lives to serve and to minister.

Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!

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Additional Resource Links

Good Boundaries and Goodbyes: Loving Others Without Losing the Best of Who You Are by Lysa TerKeurst – Lysa’s latest book helps you stop the dysfunction of unhealthy relationships by showing you biblical ways to set boundaries – Lysa’s website where you will find helpful articles, podcast episodes, and other resources

Connect with Lysa TerKeurst – Twitter | Instagram

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Key Insights and Concepts

  • Boundaries are not just a good idea, they’re actually God’s idea
  • Boundaries are not supposed to be overly restrictive, they’re supposed to define where we’re free
  • Boundaries deal with access, responsibility, and consequences
  • A boundary without a consequence is nothing but a bad suggestion
  • Healthy people like healthy boundaries. They’re not threatened by them and they’re not put off by them. They accept them because they recognize their own limitations, and therefore they can respect your limitations.
  • If you fear that someone, because you drew a healthy boundary, would reject you or walk away from you, chances are, that person is probably going to reject you and walk away from you eventually anyway
  • We have limited resources, not because we have an issue with people, but because we are human. Only God has a limitless supply.
  • We are often good at placing boundaries in some aspects of our lives, but often struggle when it comes to placing relational or emotional boundaries
  • We need to discern who we’re giving access to, how much access they receive, and also require the right amount of responsibility from them for the access that we’ve granted
  • When we struggle with people-pleasing, oftentimes we not just struggling because we are trying to keep other people happy. We are struggling because we fear if I don’t keep them happy, then we will lose something that they are giving us.
  • “People-pleasing is not just about keeping others happy. It’s about getting from them what we think we must have in order to feel okay in the world.” – Lysa TerKeurst
  • We are created for community, so there is nothing wrong with needing other people. It is when those needs and desires turn into a demand from another person that things become unhealthy.
  • There is a difference between saying we need someone to do something versus we expect them to do something. We must discern when between wants/needs and expectations.
  • Controlling or manipulating someone to get our needs or desires met is not about healthy boundaries, it is actually dysfunction
  • Some of the most unhealthy situations with a ministry leader arise when they are very high on spiritual health, but very low on their emotional health
  • If we have unhealed places in our lives, we will bring that into our ministry.
  • If we’ve never worked through what we’ve walked through, then chances are, what we don’t work out, will act out
  • We can teach people spiritual principles, but if our emotional health is not where it needs to be, we cannot possibly model how to live in healthy ways, not because we are bad leaders, but likely because we are unhealed people
  • As ministry leaders, we need to recognize where we are equipped and where we are not equipped and we need to be ready to discern where we may need to bring in other people who are more trained, especially in areas of mental and emotional health
  • Sometimes, either we will come across a Bible verse that we weaponize against ourselves and talk ourselves out of healthy boundaries, or someone, often a well-meaning person, will take a Bible verse and weaponize it against us to make us feel like boundaries aren’t really helpful, or maybe even harmful
  • The purpose of a boundary is not to leave people. The purpose of the boundary is to love people really, really well without losing the best of who we are.

Questions for Reflection

  • How do I view boundaries? As restrictive or freeing? Why?
  • Do I feel threatened by others’ boundaries? Why or why not?
  • Are there relationships in my life and ministry where I have been hesitant to set healthy boundaries? Why do I think I have been hesitant? What concerns do I have?
  • What steps will I take to set healthy boundaries?
  • Are there people I am fearful of losing if I set boundaries? What do I think i might lose? How can i best process this in terms of people-pleasing?
  • In my relationships with other leaders serving at our church, am I focused more on expectations or needs/desires? What changes, if any, do I believe I need to make in this area?
  • Are there some people that I am giving too much access to based upon their willingness to take responsibility? If so, who? What will I do in these relationships?
  • How does the recognition that my emotional and relational energy is not unlimited impact how I should be setting boundaries?
  • Am I burning myself out because I lack healthy boundaries? If so, what will I do?
  • How is my emotional health? Do I have unhealed places in my life that are impacting my relationships?
  • Am I willing to work through what I have walked through? Who will help me with this?
  • Do I understand my own limitations when it comes to where I am best equipped and where I am not equipped? How would I describe those areas?
  • Do I have someone with advanced training to help in the areas where I am less equipped? Who are these people? Am I willing to utilize their wisdom and knowledge when needed?
  • How can healthy boundaries help me love people better?

Full-Text Transcript

As ministers we have a heart to encourage, to bless, and to engage with people relationally. However, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves emotionally drained and mentally fatigued if we are not setting healthy boundaries, but the question is, how do we set good boundaries and continue to serve those around us?

Jason Daye 

In this episode, I’m joined by Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, has written 25 books, including her latest Good Boundaries and Goodbyes. Together, Lysa and I discuss how setting good boundaries actually helps us live more fully into the calling that God has on our lives to serve and to minister. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye
Hello, friends, and welcome to another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye, and it’s a joy to be with you each and every week, where we help bring a conversation with a trusted ministry leader, to help pastors and ministry leaders just like you embrace a healthy rhythm, a sustainable rhythm of leadership for both life and ministry. And we are proud to be a part of the PastorServe network and, what’s unique about FrontStage BackStage is we’re not just another ministry YouTube show or ministry leadership podcast, but we actually have a team that creates a toolkit, a complete resource that accompanies every episode to help you dig more deeply into the topic, help your ministry leaders in your local church. We have questions for reflection, a growth guide, all different resources, and you can find that at So be sure to check out that awesome resource that goes along with the awesome conversation we’re about to dive into. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, we’d love for you to give us a thumbs up and take a moment in the comments below, drop your name and the name of your church. We love to get to know our audience better, and our team will be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you’re joining us on YouTube, or you are following along, listening along on your favorite podcast platform, be sure to subscrib, or follow. We don’t want you missing out on any of these great conversations. And as I mentioned, we do have another great conversation today. I’m very excited to be joined by none other than Lysa TerKeurst. So Lysa, thank you for making time to be with us. And welcome to FrontStage BackStage.

Lysa TerKeurst
Thank you so much, Jason. It’s an honor to be here. So thank you for asking me.

Jason Daye
Yes, definitely. Now, Lysa, as I said, it’s good to have you with us and I and so many others I know appreciate your heart and the wisdom that you freely share from your years of ministry, from your personal experiences, and what a blessing that has been for the Church. I think you’re over 25 books strong now. And it’s amazing to think of of all that you’ve kind of put out in the world, and so we’re very grateful for that. Now, many of us in ministry, we really struggle with something that you write about in your most recent book, Good Boundaries and Goodbyes, and that is the practice of really setting healthy boundaries in ministry. And now myself, from being in ministry for more than 20 years, I have some thoughts as to why we, as pastors and ministry leaders, struggle with this, but I’d love to hear from you, Lysa, because you’ve really put a lot of deep thought into this and you’ve written about this. So Lysa, why do we often find it challenging to set up good boundaries, healthy boundaries, in our lives as ministers?

Lysa TerKeurst
Well, I think there’s so many, many reasons that we struggle, not just as ministers but as humans, but especially as Christians, because I think we’re all looking for the confidence to know that it’s okay that we draw boundaries. Because we have these questions like: Is it unkind to draw a boundary? Is it okay with God that we draw a boundary? What if we disappoint people? What if drawing this boundary makes someone walk away from us? So we have all these notions about boundaries and I took that very seriously because I wanted to learn to have confidence, biblical confidence, in drawing boundaries as well. And I didn’t want to do anything that would violate biblical principles or displease God. So as I got into scripture, asking the question ‘is God okay with boundaries?’ I realized right from the very beginning, God established the foundations of the world using boundaries. He separated the light from the darkness, he separated the sea from the land, he told the sea you can go here, but no further and then this is where the land begins. So even in Creation, God is using boundaries to create healthy distinctions between one thing and another thing. And so then when we get into Genesis 2 and we see the first recorded conversation between God and Adam, think of all the topics that God could have chosen to pick to have that conversation around, and God chose boundaries. And the way that God communicated the boundary in this first recorded conversation is something we should pay attention to. God did it in the, in the context of freedom. God says to Adam, you are free to eat from any tree in the garden. Freedom is really important when you think about boundaries, because boundaries are not supposed to be overly restrictive, they’re supposed to define where we’re free, like where the, where the freedom starts, and where the freedom ends. So God says you’re free to eat from all of these trees. So now Adam is free to run within the safety of the established parameters, and then here comes the boundary. But listen, it was not for restriction, it was for protection. So it is, it is telling him like don’t do this. So I guess in that essence, it’s restrictive, but it’s for the sake of protection. God said, you’re free to eat from all the trees in the garden, but you must not eat from this one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then he gets the consequence, because a boundary without a consequence is nothing but a bad suggestion. And if you eat from it, then you will surely die. So as I started to look at that, I started to realize boundaries are not just a good idea, they’re actually God’s idea. And as I continued to journey through scripture, looking for pictures of boundaries, and looking for ways that God either demonstrated boundaries, or required boundaries, the next place that I hit that was completely fascinating, was in the establishment of the tabernacle, and the temple. And God gave certain access to people, but not all people. And the greater access that you had getting closer and closer to the Holy of Holies, the greater responsibility you had to demonstrate, and the greater the consequences were for irresponsibility, or misuse of that access. And this didn’t say that some people are more valuable than other people. But according to the role that you had been given, you were you were required to be responsible with the access that God had granted to you, all the way to the Holy of Holies, which only the high priest had access to the Holy of Holies. And it was only once a year for a very distinct purpose, for atonement, the atonement of the people. And he had greatest access, so he was required the greatest responsibility. He had to be perfectly cleansed and pure, before he stepped into the Holy of Holies, or he had the most severe consequence, which is he would drop dead, in the presence of holiness sin cannot be. And so I just found it very eye opening, that these three words not only applied to the way that God granted access in the tabernacle and in the temple, but these three words were going to be very important in our establishment of boundaries as well. So when you think of boundaries, think of access, responsibility, and consequences.

Jason Daye
Fascinating and I love how you dig back into, you know, kind of the biblical account, because naturally, that’s, that’s where we should go. Right? As we’re thinking about ministry today, oftentimes, as pastors, as ministry leaders, we tend to feel like part of our ministry is opening ourselves up, making ourselves accessible, right, to to the people God has entrusted us to lead. And so when we, when we are thinking in those those terms, oftentimes, that means we lack, you know, the willingness, let’s say, to put up these boundaries. Can you talk to us, Lysa, a little bit about how from a ministry, in a ministry setting, in a ministry perspective, how can we kind of maybe overcome that, you know, our tendency to ignore setting up boundaries? Because in some ways it feels like we we might be limiting our ministry if we set up boundaries. I think that’s one things we struggle with, right?

Lysa TerKeurst
Yeah, absolutely. And I would say it’s not just we struggle with our willingness for boundaries, I think we struggle with the confidence that it’s okay for us to have boundaries. And then we wrestle with the cost. In other words, if I draw this boundary, what might this cost me? What if I draw this boundary and this person is so disappointed in me that they stopped supporting me? Or what if I draw this boundary, and this person rejects me and walks away from me. So what I would say to that is, if you fear that that person, because you drew a healthy boundary, would reject you or walk away from you, chances are, that person is probably going to reject you and walk away from you eventually, because there’s something in that relationship that doesn’t lend itself to the respect of healthy boundaries. So I think we have to change our mindset. It’s not what we are trying to put on another person, it’s what we’re trying to establish for ourselves so that we can love others well, without losing the best of who we are. We all have limited capacity, and we know this with certain areas of our life. So Jason, let me ask you a couple of questions. Is it okay if we flip here? Okay, I’m the interviewer now. This is great. Okay, so Jason, do you have a bank account?

Jason Daye
Yes, I do.

Lysa TerKeurst
Okay, um, do you have a password or some kind of security code for your bank account?

Jason Daye

Lysa TerKeurst
Okay. Why did you put a passcode or a security code on your bank account? There’s no wrong answers here. So don’t fear that…

Jason Daye
Well, obviously, because I don’t want people to have access to the funds that I need to help support my family.

Lysa TerKeurst
Okay, so does that mean you’re unkind?

Jason Daye
No, I think it means I’m responsible.

Lysa TerKeurst
Exactly. Yeah and another dynamic that’s at play. You know, if we were to share your passcode, today of your bank account, and just give people complete access, we don’t know if they’re going to be responsible or not. But then there’s another dynamic at play. We don’t have unlimited funds in our bank account. Now. Maybe you do? And if so, I give you full permission to give your security code and give us all access to your bank account, because that would be delightful.

Jason Daye
That’s not gonna happen, right? Yeah.

Lysa TerKeurst
But you’re not unlimited, you have limited resources, not because you’re mean, but it’s because you’re human. Only God has a limitless supply. And we know this with our finances, but we forget it with our emotional capacity. We forget it with our relational capacity, we forget this with even our physical capacity. And so we are already doing this really well in some areas of our life. And we wouldn’t say because somebody didn’t give us full access to their bank account that they were selfish, and oh, how disappointed I am in you that you wouldn’t give me full access to the bank account, right? We all accept that with no problem. So why is it that we struggle so much when it comes to other areas of our life that we also need to discern who we’re giving access to how much access and require the right amount of responsibility for the access that we’ve granted. So this is the chart I want you to have in your mind, to the level that we give someone access to us. Now, I don’t want you to hear me wrong. I’m not talking about like, backstage access, right? I’m not talking about VIPs. I’m talking about to the level that we welcome someone in to the places that we are vulnerable, the places that we are limited, and the places where we are human. Even if we’re strong Christians, we’re still limited. So the greater access that we give to someone, let’s say we give them level 10 access, but they only bring level three responsibility with that access, the distance between those is going to create a little chaos in the relationship, and over time that chaos is going to possibly introduce some dysfunction in that relationship. And where there is chaos and dysfunction, there is usually a lack of a boundary. So what do we do about it? Well, we could have a conversation with this person and express the responsibility that they need to bring in order for us to give them continued level 10 access. So if I’m going to give you level 10 access, I need you to bring level 10 responsibility. And a healthy person will respond well to a boundary conversation. Healthy people like healthy boundaries, they’re not threatened by them, and they’re not put off by them. They accept them because they recognize their own limitations, and therefore they can respect your limitations. But if that person is unwilling or incapable of anything beyond a level three, then we have a choice at that point. We can try to put a boundary on them, but we all know, it’s impossible to make another person change unless they want, unless they have an internal desire to make that change for themselves, we ultimately will not create a lasting change in someone because we wanted it and they didn’t, that’s just not going to work. It’s kind of like, if you had a cardiac event today, Jason and I was there with you, then as another responsible human, I would do CPR on you, right. And using external pressure, I could, for a little bit, sustain your life. But eventually, if your heart doesn’t start beating on its own, me continuing to do chest compressions, is not sustainable. Never have you seen two people walking around the mall, one person doing chest compressions on the other person trying to sustain their life, it doesn’t work. So this notion that we can put a boundary on another person and exert enough external pressure to force them to want to change and lift up their responsibility to the level of access we’ve given them, that’s going to be a very frustrating and probably futile activity. So a better place is to put the boundaries on that situation and to boundary ourself for the sake of our safety and our sanity. And if they are unwilling or incapable of anything beyond a level three responsibility, then we must boundary ourselves by reducing the access we give them down to level three, so that equilibrium can be reached in that relationship again. Now, is this easy? Is it as easy as the chart I’ve just shared? No. Are there a million nuances with specific situations? Yes, I’m not telling someone how to think, I’m just giving you a lot to think about. And, of course, the third word, besides access and responsibility is the word consequences. A boundary without a consequence is nothing but a bad suggestion. But it’s not just consequences that will need to be established for someone crossing that boundary or violating our boundaries, we also have to think about the consequences to us, to me, if I establish a boundary and the other person does not like that boundary, then there’ll be a cost to me establishing that boundary. And that’s where I usually find boundaries falling apart for people is that we are getting something from that other person that we fear if we lose that, then we we will suffer so much that we negate the boundary because we don’t want to face that potential suffering. But, and I’m raising my hand here, right? Because I used to say, I struggle with people pleasing, but the reality is, I’m not struggling because I’m trying to keep other people happy. I’m struggling, because I fear if I don’t keep them happy, then I will lose something that they are giving me. And where the Lord really challenged me is that I will always desperately want to get from another person what I fear I will never get from God. So that’s a very long answer to your question, but I hope it does give us all something to really think about.

Jason Daye
Yeah, no, that’s excellent. You know what’s crazy, Lysa. So your whole book, you know, when everyone sees it, you know, it’s, there’s a lot in here, a lot of information. I literally what you just said about people plate pleasing. I wrote out, I copied it out, the exact quote, “People pleasing is not just about keeping others happy. It’s about getting from them what we think we must have in order to feel okay in the world.” That literally, that quote, stopped me when I read it.

Lysa TerKeurst
Well, look at you. You know the quote better than I do.

Jason Daye
Yeah. It just, like struck me. I wrote it down. Because that’s one of the things that, I’m so glad you brought that up, because that’s one things I really wanted to touch on because I think as pastors and ministry leaders, we we know that being a people pleaser isn’t healthy and yet so often we tend to operate in a world of people-pleasing, right. And I think it’s because of our, I would like to think that is because of our heart of compassion, love and concern. We’re, you know, we’re not in ministry just for kicks. You know, if you feel called into ministry and you’re living that out, that calling out, it’s because there’s something within you that God has placed within you that sincerely cares for other people. And so that balance between having sincere compassion and care for someone else, and slipping into people-pleasing, I mean, that is a delicate balance. And so when I read that, that stuck out to me so much, and I really wanted to talk about it. So I’m glad that you brought it up, because it takes this idea of people-pleasing from something that’s more kind of external, you know, it’s kind of something that we’re doing for others, something we’re doing to help others be happy, others be content, and it makes it quite reflective on us, right? It really holds up a mirror to who we are. So Lysa, can you talk a little more about that? Because I think this is a key point. I think for those of us in ministry, is what does our tendency to be a people-pleaser, even though none of us want to admit we are, oftentimes in ministry we are. What does that tendency really say about us? Those things that are going on within us?

Lysa TerKeurst
Well, first of all, I want to say, you know, it’s, it’s good and natural. And God even wired us to have needs and to have desires. So the fact that we need other people shows that we were created for community. And so it’s, there’s nothing wrong with needing other people. As a matter of fact, I think it pleases God, when we live in community, help the community. So it’s just when those needs and desires turn into a demand from another person, that we can really start to get in trouble with that. And you know, my counselor once really challenged me. I was doing a, an Instagram Live, it’s always, you know, interesting to do an Instagram live with your therapist, right? And I was just really feeling like I was killing it. You know, I was like, Man, these are good questions I’m asking and he’s giving good answers, it’s going to be so helpful. And we were covering the topic of expectations. So I probably set expectations fifteen times in the introduction, just like we’re going to talk about healthy expectations, realistic, unrealistic, how to meet the realistic expectations. blah blah blah. So I just kept saying expectations. And my counselor wisely after I finished my long introduction, said, Lysa, words frame your reality. So would you consider… Are you open to a thought? And whenever he says that, that’s his kind way of saying he’s about to therapy me, you know? I said, Yes, I’m open to a thought. And he said, you know, maybe you could change using the word expectations to needs and desires, because expectations often have premeditated resentments built in. And I found that so fascinating. He wasn’t saying for me to never use expectations, but I think he was cautioning me to express what’s really a need or desire, but don’t fill it with premeditated resentments if someone doesn’t meet that need or desire. And that’s really what we’re doing. When we start using expectations over and over. If I say, Jason, I need you to stick with our time limit today, then that gives you an opportunity to respect that need, and you still have some say so in the matter, but I’ve clearly defined what I need, and then you can meet that need, and you don’t feel like that need is necessarily a burden. You appreciate me expressing a parameter around our interview today. But if I say Hey, Jason, I expect you to stick with our time limit today. Do you, do you feel the sharp edge of that?

Jason Daye
Right. Yeah, definitely.

Lysa TerKeurst
And so because words frame our reality, I think in the way that we express our needs and the way that we express our desires, we have to watch turning them into demands and expectations that we place on other people. Because when we start to do that, and we take away people’s option to meet our needs, and I think we start becoming suspicious of their of their, that the possibility that they’re going to hurt us. So we reduced the freedom in the relationship down to I feel like I have to control you and manipulate you in order to get my needs and desires hashtag demands met. And so that’s oftentimes where some of the dysfunction comes into a relationship, and controlling and manipulating other people, that’s not a healthy boundary. That’s called dysfunction. And we get used to our own dysfunctions. So chances are, this isn’t just a mistake that some of us have made, chances are in some of our relationships, these are patterns of behavior that we would do well to pay attention to.

Jason Daye
Yeah, that’s really helpful. You know, it’s fascinating, several things that you said there, Lysa, in this conversation. We’ve talked about healthy boundaries, and in being kind of considerate and reflective on our own lives and our own motivations. I think, you know, like you said, our fears, you know, our concerns that if we draw a boundary, we might lose relationship with someone, which I think is very valid. One of the things that you’ve mentioned is being in kind of healthy relationship with someone else. Oftentimes in ministry, one, quite admittedly, we’re all broken people, so we’re not in complete health. But hopefully, if we’re in ministry, we’re working on that, right. But oftentimes, people that we engage in ministry are going through some very broken times. You know, that’s part of ministry. And so there is some definite unhealth, oftentimes. How can we responsibly minister to someone who is, you know, unhealthy relationally, unhealthy emotionally? In a way that… because as you’re talking, I’m thinking through, you know, if, if they’re not, you know, if they’re like a level three, as you said, you know, that we have to come down to a level three, and I can kind of understand that, almost theoretically, you know, conceptually. But in the ebb and flow of ministering, how do we protect ourselves when there’s some unhealthy, broken emotion on the other side, but yet, at the same time, we’re called to, you know, live into that and help point people to wholeness. So how do we balance that?

Lysa TerKeurst
Well, first of all, we need to be brave enough to do our own work. And we can’t assume that we’re starting at a place of health, if we’ve never worked through what we’ve walked through, then chances are, what we don’t work out, will act out. And so we’re going to bring our own unhealed places into that dynamic, not because we’re bad people or irresponsible pastors, ministers, you know, leaders, but because we haven’t done our own work, and if we haven’t done our own work, we can’t possibly pull someone else to a healthier place. You know, it’s like the blind leading the blind, they’re both going to fall into a pit, right? The problem is, sometimes the people we’re doing ministry for, recognize their blindness, and we don’t. And so we have to be responsible to get some professional insight about our own health as well. And this does not mean that you’re a bad leader, it doesn’t mean that you’re less of a Christian. But some of the most, I guess, unhealthy situations that I’ve ever experienced a ministry leader being in is when they’re very high on spiritual health, but very low on their emotional health. And that’s not, you can… You can teach people spiritual principles, but if your emotional health isn’t where it needs to be, you cannot possibly model how to live that out in healthy ways. Again, it’s not because you’re a bad person, but chances are, you may be an unhealed person. And I think it needs to be a requirement of every human to get someone who’s trained to help us work through what we’ve walked through, and we’ve all walked through stuff. And oftentimes, another quote that my therapist says that I really like is when it’s hysterical, its historical. So when when we have an out of proportion reaction, when something affects us so much more, then maybe even how it would affect other people, chances are, it’s not just about that issue. It’s that we’re pulling unhealed issues from the past into this very present-day situation. And that unhealed issue from the past is going to compound the issue at hand. And we’re going to start doing things like personalizing people’s constructive criticism, or getting defensive when people try to speak something into our life. And look, I don’t really think that the human heart likes criticism at all, I don’t even know that we’re designed to receive, you know, criticism. I think we got to hold people close before we try to hold them accountable. I think I heard Bob Goff say that once, it’s a terrific quote. But I think we need to be honest about our own health before we try to help other people with their mental health or emotional health. So that’s the first thing I would say. The second thing is recognize where we are equipped and where we’re not equipped. And I’ve seen some very well-meaning ministry leaders get into situations where they are dealing with some mental health issues that they put a label on, that softens what’s really happening, and nobody wins when that happens. For example, I have seen well-meaning, you know, pastoral care, lay leaders, or even pastors or other ministry leaders, and maybe I’m guilty of this myself, right, where I am called on to help a couple. And the woman describes or the wife describes a scenario, and it could go both ways, you know, I don’t want to just say it’s always the men hurting the women, because sometimes it’s women hurting men too. But when a wife describes a situation that the husband is being kind of harsh with her. And she describes all these things that are happening, and it becomes apparent that the guy in this situation is there, he’s thinking a little too much of himself, and therefore, he’s minimizing her to maximize himself. We may not be dealing with just a pride issue there, we may actually be dealing with someone who’s struggling on the narcissism spectrum. But if we aren’t trained in narcissism, and we aren’t trained in gaslighting, and we aren’t trained in the emotional trauma that can come out of gaslighting and deception and all the other impacts that this has on the person that is suffering because of another person’s actions, then we may try to just give a spiritual answer that is addressing a problem, but maybe we’re not really addressing the fullness of that problem. And so I think recognizing where we may need to bring in other people who are more trained. I put a lot of value on pastoral care. I think that it is tremendous. I think it’s biblical. I am so grateful for it myself. But just like Job’s friends took a step too far in trying to diagnose why this was happening and God criticized them for that. I think we need to be careful with that same thing.

Jason Daye
Yeah, no, I think it’s a good word, Lysa, because, you know, their biblical counsel, I think it’s incredibly important, obviously, and invaluable. But there are times that and it’s, I don’t think it’s, you know, and I hope and typically, I don’t think it’s something where it’s, you know, a pastor thinks they have all the answers and, you know, we can’t have others who God has gifted with wisdom and discernment that can help. But I think oftentimes, as you’re sharing that example, we see kind of the symptoms, and we tend to address the symptoms, as opposed to the source, right? And maybe it’s because we don’t fully understand the nuances of how God created us emotionally, mentally. So we don’t really, we can’t really diagnose the actual source of it, we’re just looking at the symptoms. And so oftentimes, in ministry, we, you know, share, I think, you know, wisdom in regard to how to handle some of the symptoms, but you’re not getting to the source, because we’re just unaware. And so I think it’s very important, healthy to have key people that you’re connected to, that have a deeper awareness, have spent more time, you know, studying that. A pastors, a pastor shouldn’t put on themselves, that they need to be an expert in every single field, right? Whether it’s, you know, mental health, or politics for that matter, you know, I mean, there’s so many things we could talk about in our society today where pastors, I think, sometimes feel, going back to that word expectations, feel maybe an expectation that they need to know everything about everything, where we’re in reality, you know, we’re called to shepherd the people and so we need people that we can point them to and direct them to, in some of those deeper things. So I think that that’s key and important. You know, Lysa is as pastor…

Lysa TerKeurst
Well first of all, Jason, I’m want to say that is so well stated. That’s so well stated. And I hope people rewind and re listen to what you just stated, because I do agree with you wholeheartedly that sometimes instead of addressing the real source of the issue, we’re just addressing the symptoms. And I think that was very well put. So thank you for sharing that.

Jason Daye
Thank you, thank you, Lysa. This is a good interview, we’re going back and forth. That’s good. One thing as we’re kind of winding down this conversation, which has been incredibly helpful, and as I’ve said, this is… we’re really just scratching a couple of little things that I pulled out of the book, Good Boundaries and Goodbyes, there’s so much more. So if people are watching along listening along, I really encourage you guys to dig in. Because there’s a wealth there that you’ve provided, Lysa, super appreciative of that. But one thought I had is, as we’re thinking of those who are really watching, right now those who are listening in ministry, and they identify with this conversation, Lysa, like, they’re hearing what’s being said, and they’re like, wait, I know that I do struggle with setting good healthy boundaries, tthat is something that I kind of resonate with, as you’re sharing these things, and some of the examples you’re giving, like, I identify with that. Lysa, if you’re just sitting down across the table with a cup of coffee, a cup of tea with a pastor or ministry leader, and they say, Hey, I’m struggling with this. What would you what would you share with them?

Lysa TerKeurst
I would say that’s so normal. So don’t put this big label on yourself that, that you can’t do boundaries, or that you’re not good at human relationships or anything like that. I would say, Gosh, it’s so normal. We all to some extent struggle with boundaries. And if anybody says they have human relationships all figured out and boundaries all figured out, be most skeptical of that person. Right, right. And, you know, that’s part of the reason why I wrote this book, because I wrote it from my own source of struggle, not my strength. I haven’t perfected this. And I’m very honest, that I’m an imperfect guide, taking you through this. And, you know, one of my favorite parts of the book is I get my therapist, he’s a licensed professional Christian counselor, I get him to weigh in at the end of every chapter to give a little deeper therapeutic insight, but I was also very careful to combine well researched theology and weave that throughout the book as well. So if you’re struggling, I really do recommend reading Good Boundaries and Goodbyes, especially for ministry leaders, and let me tell you why. Because sometimes, either we will come across a Bible verse that we weaponize against ourselves and talk ourselves out of healthy boundaries, or someone will take a Bible verse, a well-meaning person, maybe even, will take a Bible verse, and weaponize it against us trying to make us feel like boundaries aren’t really helpful, or maybe they can even be harmful in their estimation. So in the back of Good Boundaries and Goodbyes, I have a pretty extensive list of those scriptures that can sometimes be weaponized in boundaries discussions, and I list the verse and using good theological research, I say, this is how the verse has been misinterpreted, or how we have too easily accepted this verse, but if you dig into the theological meaning, this is what the verse actually means. And then I give a script, if someone weaponizes this verse against you, here’s a way that you can kindly but with education, reply back to them. And I think that’s going to be extremely helpful for ministry leaders who want to have biblical confidence that their boundary is in line with biblical teaching. And I think that’d be really helpful.

Jason Daye
Yeah, yeah, I definitely agree. That’s awesome. Awesome. You know, it’s so interesting, as we are serving the Kingdom, and these nuances and these things that we need really need to think through because so often we get so caught up in the work of the Kingdom, right, that we’re just going going going, we’re seeing all these different pieces, but it’s it’s so helpful, I think, to pull back so that we are serving from a healthy space… so that we are growing ourselves, right, and that we can get healthy ourselves and then in turn, help others, point others that Jesus and the wholeness that comes from the Gospel. So, such a great resource, Lysa, thank you so much.

Lysa TerKeurst
Well, thank you. Yeah, you know, So the subtitle of the book is really important to me. So the title of the book is Good Boundaries and Goodbyes, the subtitle is Loving Others Without Losing the Best of Who You Are. And I would say to a ministry leader listening, the best of who you are is what will attract people to Jesus and attract people to the authenticity of your message, because we live, especially post the pandemic, you know, we live in a space right now, where people are so skeptical. And they’re especially skeptical of big organizations, or big ministries or big churches. And I would say it’s crucial right now to realize that we set boundaries so that we can be enabled to seek each other’s highest good. And so that the best of who we are, that self-controlled, not perfect, but self-controlled, and patient, kind, giving person that God designed us to be, that’s what needs to stay front and center. And we desire that and God desires that for us. But if we allow ourselves to get diminished, because we are bankrupting ourselves emotionally, bankrupting ourselves physically bankrupting ourselves relationally, then we won’t love others well, because we will lose the best of who we are. And we start reacting in ways that sometimes can make it look like we’ve never spent time with Jesus at all. And that’s not going to serve you well. And it’s not going to serve the people who are looking to you as their leader, it’s not going to serve them well either. So the purpose of a boundary is not to leave people. The purpose of the boundary is to love people really, really well without losing the best of who we are.

Jason Daye
I love that, love that. Lysa. What a great way to end our conversation. Again, thank you so much, Lysa, for making time to be with us. Super excited, want to encourage people to look out for Good Boundaries and Goodbyes. You can pick that up and dig into it… I think it will be a great blessing to your ministry, and give you the opportunity, as Lysa so eloquently shared, give us an opportunity to really love people, the best that we can love people without losing what God has created within us. And, and it’s a beautiful journey. It’s a journey in community. And that’s how God designed us. So thank you so much, Lysa, for for being here and being a part of FrontStage BackStage.

Lysa TerKeurst
Thank you.

Jason Daye 
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at That’s And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.

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