We appreciate boundaries in life. Though there ARE personality types that like to push boundaries, we have a pretty good sense of what it looks like when relationships don't have appropriate boundaries: a deacon who doesn't respect confidentiality or the role of the pastor; a Mother-in-law who has difficulty hiding her disagreement with your parenting philosophy; a friend who never gets the signal when he is encroaching on family time.
Boundaries are important - and none more so than in the ministry. Here are a few you need to consider:
1) Limited access from the opposite sex. Pastors so want to be "all things to all people," that they boarder on inviting emotional affairs and questionable/reproachable contact. The advent of social media has created a firestorm of "e-affairs." What often begins as a comment on a Facebook page or photo, can devolve into private messaging and conversations that we wouldn't want our spouses to know about.
Counseling... a distraught woman calls with an urgent need to stop by the office. Her emotions are raw and says you are the "only person she can talk to about this." You need someone with you whenever you counsel a woman who is not your mother's age. You should NEVER be behind closed doors with a woman without your wife or a deacon present. This is going to be incredibly blunt, but it must be said: Your reputation is more important than helping this person. They can get help through other people - but when your character is destroyed, it will take years to overcome it.
Texting... emailing... Instant Messaging... whatever form it takes, it is Instant Access. You need to be completely transparent about every activity or relationship or conversation you possibly can with your wife. When people ask you to keep something confidential, you need to tell them BEFORE they share that you keep nothing from your wife. If a woman makes a pass at you and you are afraid to tell her, you need to tell her anyway. That "secret transgression" on the woman's part, is just looking for a crack to get lodged in your mind. Before you know it, you find yourself looking forward to conversing with that person, entertaining sinful thoughts and rationalizing how "thoughts aren't as bad as deeds." Decide right now you are never going to meet with or carry on conversations with other women in a private place or about certain subjects. You don't need someone other than your wife invading your thought-life.
In part 2 of this topic, I will share about preventing "neediness" in your people...