Intercessors, Reconsider Your Boundaries
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Intercessors, Reconsider Your Boundaries
Dear intercessor, are you frustrated today on your intercessory journey? Do you feel like you’re stuck trying to pray for people and help them—but it feels like you’re taking one step forward and two steps backward?
If so, I want to encourage you today to reconsider your boundaries.
Intercessors are called to effect change. We do that most often through our prayers and declarations. However, sometimes we may feel the Lord leading us to intervene in practical ways to help people as well. You know: that thing about not saying “Depart in peace; be warmed and be filled” without doing anything about it.
But practical intervention can be frustrating sometimes when we don’t see the results we imagined we would see.
Because of this, over the years I have established boundaries both for myself as a minister and for my ministry. I wanted to share them today in case they will help you evaluate your own boundaries to see if you are sowing time or effort where it’s not bearing fruit.
Here is what I decided a long time ago for myself:
My goal is to build up, comfort, and encourage believers in Christ–people who want to know Him more.
This doesn’t exempt me from leading people to saving faith in Jesus, and I do that as well. However, my primary call is to disciple believers and help raise them up into victory, POWER, and holiness. My goal is to equip people to labor in God’s harvest field in whatever way they are called.
I always want to help everyone, but the fact is that I can’t.
The same way that your message and calling aren’t for everybody, neither are mine. Some people love what I have to say, and other people hate it. And awhile back, I came to realize very specifically who I actually can help–and who I can’t–through a frustrating ministry experience.
Here’s the story:
I was asked to minister at a certain place and time. So, I prepared and showed up to minister. I had a good word and things on which I really wanted to challenge the people. But … I couldn’t.
Why? Because some of the people had such a small view of God that they couldn’t receive more. They couldn’t believe for more. They verbalized practically zero interest in being the violent ones who take the Kingdom by force (Matthew 11:12) or in actually DOING things purposefully for God. They wanted faith, but didn’t care about turning faith into works–and faith without works is dead (James 2:26). You have to have both!
And you know what?
It’s their business if they want to stay there. But I can’t do that; I can’t identify with it; it annoys me; and people in that position can’t identify with me or receive from me, and I probably annoy them, too. L
In thinking and praying about this, something that my pastor and mentor always says came to mind.
My pastor, Pastor Judy Jacobs, always says that you have to find people to run with that are of like faith, like spirit, like destiny, and like anointing. And you know what? She is dead-on right. And as a result of much study and prayer, I finally decided that I no longer want to try to run with folks who don’t want to run.
Here’s what that meant for my ministry:
When I decided on these boundaries, I identified the characteristics of the people I believe I can help. I decided that I can help:
- People who desire victory, even if they haven’t totally gotten there yet–but they’re trying or willing to try;
- People who desire victory, but don’t know how to get there–but they’re willing to learn and do what it takes;
- People who are willing to be aggressive to take the Kingdom of Heaven by force–even if they’re not there yet, but they want to be;
- People who are already aggressive to take the Kingdom by force;
- People who love the Presence of the Lord–and are willing to ACT upon His commands;
- People who want to take nations for Jesus (see the Great Commission);
- People who desire to give and be generous to others–even if the “others” has nothing to do with our ministry. (Because funding outreach projects and projects to care for hurting, broken, worn-out, depressed pastors in need is part of what we do. It’s Kingdom work and, if you can’t love that ministry, you can’t love our ministry.)
- People who are willing to invest in their own spiritual growth.
- People who are teachable.
But I cannot help people who:
- Expect to be spoon-fed and refuse to put forth even the smallest effort to help themselves;
- Think that it’s okay for them to sit around on their blessed assurance year after year and do NOTHING to grow in God;
- Have zero desire to ever become equipped and minister themselves.
- Send me nasty, hateful emails to tell me how wrong they think I am about whatever the topic of the day is;
- Think I’m in league with demons because I operate a 501(c)3 charitable organization;
- Have no desire or heart to give to God, to their local church, to people in need, or to this ministry–right where they are now (not waiting until some unknown future date when they hope their proverbial ship will come in);
- Think everything in ministry should be free; or
- Aren’t teachable.
I identified these key differences between people I can help versus people I can’t help based on:
- The Word of God, the Bible;
- My calling and life message;
- My personality; and
- My spiritual gifts.
Plain and simple, the prophetic words, teachings, prayers, and equipping that I offer CAN benefit lots and lots of people (by the power of Holy Spirit, of course). But, there are people that I just will not be able to help, no matter how much I love them and no matter how hard I try—even if the reasons for not being able to help them are not bad in any way (e.g. if I just don’t have the knowledge they need).
God didn’t call me to waste time. He didn’t call me to frustration. He called me to run with endurance the race that He set before me—not to try and run someone else’s race. Someone else will be able to help the people in the group I can’t help; it just won’t be me.
Beloved, creating these boundaries for myself made all the difference for me both as a minister and as an intercessor—and I encourage you to do the same.
The fact is that there are some people you can help with your message. Your life experience, your calling, and your spiritual DNA will be a great blessing to lots of people! However, there will also be people who simply can’t receive from you. For example:
- Their DNA may not be the same;
- They may not understand the Word the same way you do;
- They may view the world from a paradigm or stronghold that prevents them from receiving;
- They may be at a level of maturity that is too far behind or above yours; or
- They may have such personality differences that you just rub them the wrong way.
Whatever their reasons may be, beloved, I want to challenge you: Don’t waste your time trying to help people who refuse to be helped by you.
It’s sad, but it’s true: Sometimes we intercessors think of ourselves as being the saviors of humanity.
But the fact is, Paul wrote that he planted, Apollos watered, and GOD gave the increase. We all have our part, but only Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. Only Holy Spirit can convict and change people. And too often, after we pray, we set about trying to do His job …
… Only to fail spectacularly.
Beloved, it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can’t impart hunger. You can’t make someone teachable. You can’t make them humble. You can’t call them to care about a topic you care about if God didn’t already call them to it.
Love everyone, yes. Pray for them, yes.
But beloved, in order to be optimally effective in our intercessory call—and in order to avoid frustration—we have to ask the Holy Spirit to help us make Biblical, godly, appropriate boundaries regarding who, how, when, and what we try to help.
In my backstory above, I wasted hours trying to help people who didn’t want to be helped.
I was trying to teach people who didn’t want to be taught. I didn’t know that would be the case when I got there. I didn’t know these people for the most part. They weren’t all like that, either–but 80% of them were. And the world is too big, and the Kingdom is too big, and there are too many people who ARE hungry, that I CAN help by the power of Holy Spirit–that I’m not going to waste time like that again.
Beloved, time is short. Jesus is coming soon, and the hours of the day are limited. Your calling is important to the world and the Kingdom.
God needs YOU to take your place—not to waste your effort doing something He didn’t call you to do, just because you love people who cannot receive you.
I understand the tendency to try to help everyone with everything. I understand the tendency to never say no. However, I challenge you to reconsider your boundaries (or lack thereof) today. Are you being truly effective in the Kingdom? Are you running in the lane to which God called you?
If not, what will you do about it? How can you “niche down” your target ministry field so you are not “casting your pearls”? Leave a comment below!
Jamie Rohrbaugh equips people to walk in the manifest presence of God. She blogs for a global readership at FromHisPresence.com, where she writes about prayer, the prophetic word, living supernaturally, inner healing, and Kingdom wealth. She is a frequent contributor to Charisma Magazine, The Elijah List, Spirit Fuel, and various other ministry outlets. Her podcast, Take Your Territory with Jamie Rohrbaugh, can be found on iTunes and Spotify. Read her free blog series of encouraging Letters to Pioneers here. (Photo Credit: .)
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I used to get depressed over all the problems in the world that were so great and involved only the God of the Impossible could change.
Then the Lord very gently, but definitely, told me my bundle of issues was all I needed to pray or be concerned about. He has other warriors to accommodate other issues.
Now I hear Him assign my bundle and can, without guilt or negativity, pass over headlines that might interest but are not mine.
Hallelujah, Mighty is the Living Word..
Thank you for sharing your heart on this topic. It came at just the right time for me, I have felt stuck in recent months, just like throwing pearls. Earlier this week I received an invitation to Facilitator Training for ministry and felt some reluctance because it requires out of state travel for several days. Your article is affirmation I should say yes.
The article on ministry boundaries is just what I needed to keep my life simple and humble. Boundaries and the word humble seem to go hand in hand. How can the Lord minister to me the way he wants if I am not available to Him? He must come first. Rest in Him. I need to listen to Him. When He says stop, I stop and when He says go , I go. Otherwise it is two steps forward and one step back. I need to free myself and my time up to be alone with Him. Then we can walk together one day at a time!!
Hi Sheila! Don’t quit! Four people is a great start. Don’t be weary in well-doing; in due season you will reap if you faint not! One of the best annual conferences I ever attended (that was large) started decades ago with 12 people attending. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings; just follow God in whatever He has told you to do, and He will bless your faithfulness!
Thank you God for this on time word on boundaries!
I feel encouraged!
Phewww! I am extremely thankful for this article. It is confirmation of the Lord’s response to my prayers which were based on revelation from Him that I don’t have to “fix’ everything and everybody. Lay those burdens on His strong shoulders. What glorious freedom. Finished throwing pearls……
Expectantly looking for His so perfect intervention. He is so much more expert at forming “pots” on His wheel. He is so gentle, compassionate, patient. How beautifully (most) people respond to that rather than the resistance to “peer” ministry.
I took a little time in prayer before commenting about what you have said.
Basically, I feel very inadequate to comment to someone who is a minister
of the Gospel. I went through a lot of stages in processing what you have
said. The bottom line is that in my insignificant position as a mere child
of the King (attained not by my doing great things, but by Him alone and what
He did for me), I am willing to let God decide who I can help; otherwise, it
would be me doing my own thing and leaning to my own understanding.
I am certain that every point you have tried to make in these comments is a
point at which you need prayer support from dedicated believers who wish to be
used by God for the building of His Kingdom on earth. I thank the Lord for your
efforts on His behalf and ask in Jesus name that He will make His will very clear to you.
Also that you will be blessed by knowing His pleasure in regard to your zeal
for His Kingdom to come on earth and be “as it is in Heaven”. Amen.
I would like to give my experience. I was having a particularly rough time recently and really needed help with deliverance. What I was doing on my own was not working……deliverance and stronghold wise. I had no other place or person to turn.to ……..I found a blog this person wrote and wrote her a sincere honest request that I needed HELP. I told this person that I had read on one of her blogs that she did deliverance sessions personally. I requested a deliverance session with her, offered to pay her and what that involved. I received a reply that simply referred me to a link and to watch a video. Friends I wanted and needed a person. All this person needed to do was tell me that she was not available instead of referring, reducing me to a link response……. And then after that I received a copy of the Charisma mag. If I had wanted those two things I would have requested them. ……..so if you are considering contacting her just be understanding and forgiving……..I don’t believe you can make Christianity so cut and dry………putting people in categories………dividing us more……….ugh……..because people, even Christians are peculiar as well………remembering the love factor……..what boundaries work for some people don’t necessarily work the same with others…….God did eventually work all things for good, but it would have been nice to have people support…….
Dear Pastor Jamie, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS PIECE TODAY. I EXPERIENCED EXACTLY THIS ON WEDNESDAY OF THIS WEEK. YOU NAILED WHAT I NEEDED TO DISCERN. I FIND LIKE-MINDED, LIKE-HEARTED PEOPLE LIKE YOU ONLINE. HARD TO FIND IN THE LOCALITY IN WHICH I LIVE, SO I AM NOT SO ALONE BECAUSE OF ALL THOSE WHO ARE MINISTERING THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Sadly there are too many churches led by man’s opinions rather than Holy Spirit. I am radical for getting to know my Savior more deeply, but there are very few people I know this hungry and this thirsty. I am frustrated a lot and hard to find shalom. I love being with people but I am praying for a huge change. Well, that will definitely come with the rapture of the church and believing in my lifetime. In the meantime, trying to be obedient to Holy Spirit!!Pastor Jamie, I always recognize your writing before I see who wrote the article. I thank our Good Father for your ministries!! May our Lord continue to bless you mightily! In Jesus’ name! Amen
I really needed this today. I feel so strongly about what’s going on in the u.s. today. As I’m sure most of you do and that God has downloaded a lot of Revelation to me since 2015. I get so excited I want everybody to run with me and believe it. Sadly summon my own family don’t and just reply not everybody believes what I believe. Hurts. I need to see to believe I guess. And there are those that think I’m too far out of the box. Anybody? I thank you Jamie for this I needed it today to remember that I do have boundaries and I do need to run with those who are awake so to speak and God will take care of the rest. Thank you
This is a wonderful article, and much needed. Thank you for this!
According to this article, you have a female pastor. That’s very disheartening to know, but that is between you and God.
This piece addresses a problem that recurs with me. When I perceive that someone has a view I cannot address, I fret endlessly about it. I craft comments and recraft them over and over. I spend entirely too much time trying to figure out how to change someone’s view, even as I observe that this person is convinced and will not move.
Likewise, when someone tries to change me on a point that is immutable in my mind, I work very hard to avoid having an argument. Yet I am miserable later if I even think I might have waffled on some point important to me.
Boundaries. I truly need boundaries. May God grant me the wisdom to set boundaries and grace to enforce them.
This is such an important article, Jamie. Thank you for giving intercessors a set of guidelines to follow. Things being as depraved and evil in our world today as they are, it is easy to be overwhelmed and discouraged. We need to remember that we are not Holy Spirit Junior. When I came to understand how much energy that I had wasted trying to do His job, it was very enlightening to me. My prayer for us as intercessors, is that we look to this article for what it is- practical guidelines, given to us by Holy Spirit, to keep from becoming burned out in our efforts. Jesus, help us to see the necessity of having a clear sense of who we are, and who we aren’t. Please give us true, pure wisdom and vision to be focused upon doing Your bidding, not our own limited agenda.
My understanding of intercession from Abraham’s example and Moses’ example and that described by the Lord Himself is that we stand between a person or group or city or nation so that the Lord will turn from destruction of that group. That is what we see at the cross. Then we pray that those who received mercy will be turned to the Lord.
Thank you for this! I’ve been praying nonstop for Gods inspiration and felt led to start a prayer circle in a public park yesterday. 4 people showed up. I’m wrestling with this not sure if I should commit for the month of May or continue praying privately and with the IFA group. Trying to get Gods clarity. I’m ready to be bold in the public square but people seem to scatter when asked to step outside of church and Bible study.
Way to step out in faith Sheila – literally! How wonderful that 4 people showed up – with you that’s 5, the biblical number for grace :-). It’s always important to seek God about our next step like you are doing, but I want to encourage you to not let numbers discourage or motivate you. There are lots of reasons for small turnouts. Sometimes I think it is God’s grace so we can truly develop relationships with people (that’s hard to do with big groups), because without love we are just clanging gongs and those who are faithful with little will be given more. I have experienced your circumstance as I have led unchoreographed worship dance classes in private rooms in our public library and have invited lots of people. I get about the same turn out, but that’s OK, because I’m dancing for an audience of 1 anyway, and The Lord will bring those he wants to be there(that’s always my prayer).
I used to be very co-dependant and trying to “fix” everyone and their problems and not sure where I picked it up..I am a “caregiver”by nature and we can burn ourselves out trying to help everyone…
I remember my Mother sharing some intimate burdens with me as a small child (because she sensed my understanding heart)
God has shown me that I can’t fix anyone..only He can..
He’s also shown me that even in intercessory prayer I intercede..then release that person or thing to Him..I am to pray.. believiing..then HE will bring it to pass…
I cannot ” save” anyone or any situation..I can do my part but He is the ultimate Savior!
I am still learning this Truth..
It has been a hard long year and the time I have spent with God showing me in his word what I needed to see has helped tremendously. I however have been isolated and sometimes felt put out in my own daily life. I pray that fear will leave me and worry about family and friends. As much as I know that God has shown me things, I also know I cannot share those things until he calls me to. Words just fall on deaf ears and closed eyes. I pray that there are those that will come out of their sleep and yes they are going to be scared, but I pray in Jesus name that he comforts our fears and awakens are hearts to his truth in his time.
God told me years ago. He had assigned me my “bundlex”. There are thousands of people that are in need and I cam’t reach them all. But I can be effective with those people or issues God assigns me