Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life
Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992
Think about the frustrations you’re currently experiencing in your relationships. Maybe you resent your spouse for a recurring hurt or feel exhausted from chauffeuring your kids to countless sports practices and play dates. Maybe you can’t say no to a friend despite his constant demands on your time and energy. Maybe you’re struggling with an addict, an abuser, a manipulative leader, or a selfish family member.
All of us experience (and contribute to) problems with other people, and most of these issues can be traced back to a problem with boundaries. In their already-classic book, Henry Cloud and John Townsend explain the Bible’s consistent principles for healthy relationships (including examples of God’s boundaries with us), defuse the myths surrounding them (“If I set boundaries, I’m being selfish”), and apply these ideas to friendships, marriage, children, and work.
If it’s true that a pastor can grow a church only to the level of his own maturity, Boundaries is also an important read for our ministers and ministries. All too often a church’s dysfunctions stem from a leader’s inability to set limits, take responsibility, or deal with conflict. When Bill Hybels read this book, he wrote, “I kept fighting back the gnawing feeling that the whole trajectory of my life would have been different and better had I read this 20 years ago.”
But ministers aren’t alone in having boundary problems, and every adult, from senior in high school to senior pastor to senior citizen, would benefit from addressing these issues. It seems so obvious that we can’t control other people and we can control our own choices. Putting it into practice is more difficult, and Boundaries can help.
Jennifer Taylor, one of CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s contributing editors, is a freelance writer living in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a weekly contributor to this magazine’s “4C’s” column and its weekly e-newsletter. Find her blog at seejenwrite.com.