A Calvin Theological Seminary Publication by Students & Alumni
Boundaries (part 3)

Boundaries (part 3)

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Boundaries “When to Say YES When to Say NO To Take Control of Your Life”

What is Insight My Boundaries

John and Henry used the story /parable of a good Samaritan (p.36 – 37) to illustrate how we (Christians) sometimes are caught up with compassion to give to someone in need and at the end we are manipulated and end up giving more than we wanted to give. We became resentful and angry, having missed something we needed in our own life. To avoid such scenarios, we need to understand what falls within our boundaries, what we are responsible for.

Feeling: feelings play an important role in our motivation and behavior; we shouldn’t ignore our feelings and we shouldn’t put them in charge. “Feelings come from your heart and can tell you the state of your relationships. They can tell you if things are going well, or if there is a problem. If you feel close and loving, things are probably going well. If you feel angry, you have a problem that needs to be addressed. But the point is, your feelings are your responsibility and you must own them and see them as your problem so you can begin to find an answer to whatever issue they are pointing to.” (38)

Attitudes and Beliefs: “Attitudes have to do with your orientation toward something, the stance you take toward others, God, life, work, and relationships. Beliefs are anything that you accept as true.” (38) We should notice that attitude and beliefs are our responsibilities because they fall within our property line. We are the ones who feel their effect, and the only ones who can change them. (39)

Behaviors: Every of our behaviors has consequences; whatever we sow so shall we reap (Gal. 6:7-8). Therefore, we need to know that; evil plants produce evil fruits while good plants produce good fruits – be wise on what you allow to occupy your boundaries.

Choices: We need to take responsibility for our choices. This leads to the fruit of “self-control” (Gal. 5:23). A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else. (40)

Values: What we value is what we love and assign importance to. Often we do not take responsibility for what we value. We are caught up in valuing the approval of men rather than the approval of God (John 12:43); because of this misplaced value, we miss out on life. (41)

Limits: Just as God does not really set limits on people to make them behave, so also; we are not expected to set limits on people; rather, we should set limits on ourselves. “In reality, setting limits on others is a misnomer. We can’t do that. What we can do is set limits on our own exposure to people who are behaving poorly; we can’t change them or make them behave right.” (41)

Talents: Talents are God’s ordained responsibilities for man. Henry and John in to explore this point use the parable of the Talent in (Matt. 25:23, 26–28). “Our talents are clearly within our boundaries and are our responsibility. Yet taking ownership of them is often frightening and always risky. The parable of the talents says that we are accountable—not to mention much happier—when we are exercising our gifts and being productive. It takes work, practice, learning, prayer, resources, and grace to overcome the fear of failure that the “wicked and lazy” servant gave in to.” (42)

Thoughts: Our minds and thoughts are important reflections of the image of God. Henry and John say; establishing boundaries in thinking involves three things: We must own our own thoughts, we must grow in knowledge and expand our minds, and we must clarify distorted thinking. (43) Taking ownership of our thinking in relationships requires being active in checking out where we may be wrong.

Desires: Our desires lie within our boundaries. Each of us has different desires and wants, dreams and wishes, goals and plans, hungers and thirsts. We all want to satisfy “me.” But why are there so few satisfied “Me’s” around? Part of the problem lies in the lack of structured boundaries within our personality. We can’t define who the real “me” is and what we truly desire. (44)

Love: about love, let’s have a big cut from Henry and John:

Our ability to give and respond to love is our greatest gift. The heart that God has fashioned in his image is the center of our being. Its abilities to open up to love and to allow love to flow outward are crucial to life. Many people have difficulty giving and receiving love because of hurt and fear. Having closed their heart to others, they feel empty and meaningless. The Bible is clear about both functions of the heart: the receiving of grace and love inward and the flow outward. Listen to how the Bible tells how we should love: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39). And how we should receive love: “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also” (2 Cor. 6:11–13). (45-46)


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