Just what does it mean to serve the needy? Let’s explore the definition of needy: A) not having enough money, food, etc., to live properly. B) needing a lot of attention, affection, or emotional support. When we think of the word needy, a lot of times we think of the first definition, of the poor, not having enough. But, there is a lot to be said about the other definition (B) as well. Recently, I have found myself frustrated by a co-worker who is very needy. In Randy’s* (not his real name) case, he needs a lot of things done for him. He has no dedicated administrative support, so my boss and I do that for him. (I work as an administrative assistant at the front desk and am an hourly employee.) Randy has come to my desk first thing in the morning before I even get my things put away or go to the restroom or right before I am due out the door for lunch. (I have to take my lunch at a certain time to provide proper front desk coverage.) He acts as though a lot of things are an emergency and demands I do things for him right away. He doesn’t seem to understand that I work for the rest of the office too (more or less). I have had to set boundaries with him and others in the office that I will be happy to discuss what they need after my lunch hour or when I start work. (I haven’t implemented the second part yet, but it’s coming soon!) I am reminded of an article I wrote some time back regarding a previous job where I either couldn’t or didn’t set boundaries. My female co-workers were even asking me for things after I went into the restroom! (Really?) At my current job, I have a very supportive boss, and she has basically told me it’s okay to set proper boundaries, although that’s not quite how she phrased it.
While it’s important to be gracious, it doesn’t mean we let others take unfair advantage of us. Knowing our physical, emotional and spiritual limits is helpful too. Setting boundaries is important. It can even help us retain our sanity! While on earth, even Jesus intended to set limits on his availability. He often went away by himself to pray. That’s a form of boundary setting.
How do you set boundaries for others? Is it by implementing ‘house rules’? For example, if you make a mess, clean it up. If it’s hungry, feed it, and so on. If you want to share how you set limits for others, please tell us about a boundary you have set—maybe even what prompted you to set it—and how it turned out. As always, please share respectfully.
Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams