Blow the Whistle

Blow WhistleHave you ever said yes to something you knew you should have said no to? I did that recently. I was asked to help with something that wasn’t in my lane and wasn’t something I had any interest in doing. I sat pondering the request for a minute and thought, “Well, I don’t really have any reason to say no, it would probably be a big help to the person asking…” And before I knew it, I said yes. Instantly I felt that little warning siren go off inside me signaling the beginnings of resentment and anger at the situation. I have learned over the years to listen to those little warning signals and red flags. They mean something valuable. They mean some line was crossed. They mean we need to pause and reassess the situation and perhaps go back and set some healthy boundaries.

Years ago when I started serving in the church I was horrible with setting boundaries! Words of affirmation is my love language and all the “Atta-girls” and “Great job!!” comments fueled my fire to give and give some more until one day I looked up and realized I’d lost the passion of why I started in the first place. I felt burnt out, resentful, and angry. I felt used and abused and wrung out to dry and the more I sat back and looked at my dilemma, the more I realized the only person I had to blame was me. Somehow I had let things go too far. I did some soul-searching to see what unhealthy things in me drove me to give at that level to my detriment. I learned how to say “NO”.

I also learned it is far easier to come into an environment setting healthy boundaries than it is to go back and assert them after people see you as “that girl” – you know, the one they can ask anything of and dump anything on and she’ll get it done because she’s “dependable.” Setting boundaries after not having healthy boundaries can be wrongly interpreted. Relationships that thrived on the unhealthy imbalance of our giving natures – will change. But the joy and peace that come from taking control of our lives and making sure we give our time, efforts and energy to the right people, places and things, is worth it!!

I believe one big reason we find it so hard to set healthy boundaries is because we hear how we should give selflessly, serve as a servant, and lay down our lives. Absolutely, this is true. It’s also true that we will have to give an account of how we used our God-given talents to build God’s kingdom and glorify Him here on the earth. I was thinking about the parable of the talents the other day and how the first two servants multiplied and grew what they were given, and the third one was reprimanded for burying his in the ground(Matthew 25). He had been given something of value and he squandered it. I don’t want to give so much to the wrong things that I don’t allow myself time to do the right things that God called me to do in this life. It’s up to us and the promptings of the holy spirit to steward the talents he’s entrusted into our lives. How we invest them and our time matters.

That’s why we have to listen to and heed those little warnings that go off when a boundary line is crossed. For sure, every red flag moment is worth further evaluation before any decisions are made. Sensing them means it’s time to blow the whistle and call a time out for further review before moving forward!

Amy O’Donnell





  1. Nancy Downing

    Thanks! I SO needed to hear this.


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