At the Mission Hills Life Center, we consistently discuss boundaries.

We understand that without boundaries in our client relationships, we risk enabling harmful behaviors, creating unhealthy dependencies, and burning ourselves out. On the other hand, if our boundaries are overly rigid, we risk becoming unforgiving legalists who alienate the very individuals we are trying to serve.

Therefore, we strive for a balanced approach that allows us to protect ourselves and out clients while maintaining a compassionate and understanding environment.

So why are boundaries so important, and how do we set healthy boundaries in our professional relationships and personal life?

We constantly wrestle with this question at the Mission Hills Life Center. Thankfully, God’s commands and character guide us in establishing and upholding compassionate boundaries with our clients.


1. God clearly tells us his boundaries.

The Bible provides an abundance of guidance on how to live in alignment with God’s will and within his established boundaries. Keeping this in mind, we plainly state our expectations to our Life Center friends.

For example, “You are welcome to visit the Life Center several times a day, but unless you have an appointment, each visit is limited to 15 minutes.”

When explaining a boundary, we share the “why” without assuming the other person shares our culture or background.

Someone from middle-class culture, for instance, usually visits a place for a particular purpose, does their business, and leaves. In contrast, someone living on the streets may be accustomed to staying somewhere (whether they have a reason for being there or not) until they are asked to leave.

Because the 15-minute boundary may seem counterintuitive to some of our friends, we explain that this rule allows the Life Center to function effectively, as we have limited staff and are not a day shelter.

Adhering to this boundary allows us to have healthy relationships with our clients and provide the best possible assistance.


2. God is patient with us.

God’s patience with us is boundless, despite our flaws and mistakes. He provides many opportunities for us to grow closer to him, and this is shown in the character of God.

The Bible illustrates God’s unwavering patience in stories like the Israelites’ journey through the desert in the Old Testament: as much as the Israelites grumbled and disobeyed, God still saved them and led them to the Promised Land. God shows infinite patience and teaches us about His love for humanity.

Because of this, we give our Life Center friends multiple reminders when their behavior doesn’t align with the stated expectations. We aim to ensure that they are aware of the rules, so they can make necessary adjustments. We are patient with our clients and allow room for growth and change.


3. God allows us to experience consequences.

Though God delights in showing undeserved mercy, he also lets us experience the consequences of our behaviors. By doing so, we are able to develop a deeper understanding of the impact our actions have on ourselves and those around us.

Ultimately, this balanced approach reflects Jesus Christ’s profound wisdom and love for us as his children.

Accordingly, if a Life Center client repeatedly violates a boundary, we suspend them from the property for a short period. Yet, even as we enforce our boundaries, we strive for changed behavior and restored, healthy relationships after the suspension ends.


Setting boundaries and maintaining them can be difficult and downright unpleasant at times. However, the purpose of healthy boundaries is not only to protect our hearts from bitterness and burnout, but also to protect our clients from well-meaning but harmful attempts to help them.

Practicing setting personal boundaries can help you with creating long-term relationships, setting boundaries at work, and building trust with others.

Please continually pray for compassion and God’s help in being slow to anger and setting loving limits with our Life Center friends. We pray that you too will be empowered with grace and sound judgment as you implement healthy boundaries in your own relationships.



Want to know more?

Learn more about the “why” behind the Mission Hills Life Center by visiting our website.

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For care and ministry resources, please visit the Mission Hills Care Ministry Resources page.

Matt Rhodes

✍️ Credit | Christa Schaller
Life Center | Teaching Coordinator

Matt Rhodes

🎨 Credit | Maddie Brouwer
Communications Coordinator