Read an ExcerptLimites / Boundaries
By Henry Cloud Editorial Vida
Copyright © 2001 Henry Cloud
All right reserved.
What Is a Boundary?
BEFORE YOU LEAD
Boundaries define what is me and what is not me. Boundaries also protect us
from the bad.
Skin, words (especially the word no), truth about God and about who you are,
time (as in "time away from"), geographical distance, emotional distance,
other people, and consequences are some examples of boundaries.
We are responsible for our feelings, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, choices,
thoughts, values, limits, talents, desires, and love, all of which lie within our
The concept of boundaries comes from the nature of God himself.
Boundaries allow us to care for ourselves and others.
Boundaries result in freedom, which leads to love.
We begin our study of boundaries by answering the question, "What is a boundary?" Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows where each individual ends and someone else begins, leading each person to a sense of ownership and responsibility. These boundaries, or "fences" need to have gates so that we can let good in and bad out.
Just as homeowners setphysical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn't. Skin, words (especially the word no), truth about God and about who you are, time (as in "time away from"), geographical distance, emotional distance, other people, and consequences are some examples of boundaries. Feelings, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, choices, thoughts, values, limits, talents, desires, and love all lie within our boundaries.
The concept of boundaries comes from the very nature of God. God defines himself as a distinct being separate from his creation and from us. He has boundaries within the Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one, but at the same time they are distinct persons with their own boundaries. God also limits what he will allow in his "yard." He confronts sin and allows consequences for behavior. He guards his house and will not allow evil things to go on there. He invites people in who will love him, and he lets his love flow outward to them at the same time.
Created in God's likeness, we too have personal responsibilities within limits-within boundaries-that we set and maintain. Part of taking responsibility, or ownership, is knowing what is our job and what isn't. It takes wisdom to know what we should be doing and what we shouldn't.
Consider the importance of boundaries. Knowing what we are to own and take responsibility for gives us freedom. If we each know where our yard begins and ends, we are free to do with it what we like. But boundaries do more than just allow us to care for ourselves; they also help us care for others in a healthy, Christlike way.
Maintaining boundaries-or, put differently, taking responsibility for your life-opens up many different options. After all, if you're in control of your life, you'll recognize that you have choices. You'll no longer be limited by circumstances or the control of others. You'll find that you have greater control of your time, energy, and resources. And with that greater control comes freedom to serve others in ways that you choose: to whom you will give, what you will give, and how much you will give.
In turn, the freedom that comes with knowing boundaries leads to love because love requires freedom. If you have to do something for someone and don't have a choice about the matter, you are doing it under compulsion rather than acting in love (2 Cor. 9:7). You are doing it in fear of either the person's withdrawal or attack or to avoid your own feelings of guilt. But if you are free to say no, then when you do choose to give, you are giving out of love, and your service will be truly Christlike.
"A Day in a Boundaryless Life" and "What Does a Boundary Look Like?" chapters 1 and 2 in Boundaries
1. Call the group together.
2. Welcome the participants to Session 1 of the Boundaries course: "What Is a Boundary?"
3. Introduce yourself: Tell the group your name, a little about yourself, and
why you are excited about teaching this course.
Opening Prayer (1 Minute)
Heavenly Father, thank you for the people who have gathered here and for what you have for us to learn. May we hear your truth with our hearts as well as our ears and apply it to our lives in new and freeing ways. Jesus, we look to you to be our guide and our teacher as we begin learning more about boundaries and your design for our lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Overview (1 Minute)
Participant's Guide page 9.
Note: On each facing right-hand page is a copy of the corresponding Participant's Guide page(s).
For the next nine sessions we are going to look at boundaries-what they are and how they can help us live a life that honors and glorifies God. This course is based on Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend's best-selling book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life.
Hold up the book. At this point you may wish to offer this book for sale as an additional resource or simply mention where a copy can be obtained.
Let's turn to page 9. Today we're going to define "boundaries" and see how
boundaries allow us to care for ourselves and others. We'll look at examples of
boundaries and see what we are responsible for within our boundaries. We'll see
that the concept of boundaries comes from the nature of God himself, and, as
we move through this session, you'll come to understand how boundaries result
in freedom, which leads to love.
Video Segment: Sherrie Without Boundaries (8 Minutes)
In this first video segment, we'll see some scenes from chapter 1 in the book Boundaries and hear from Dr. Cloud. But first, let me tell you a little bit about your Participant's Guide. During our nine sessions, we will discuss various topics as a large group. You will also meet together in small groups, talk one-on-one to the person next to you, and occasionally work alone on some exercises. The Participant's Guide will help you stay focused and keep us moving through this challenging and life-changing material.
Participant's Guide page 10.
If you turn to page 10, you'll see that the authors have listed the key points from the video segments so that you don't have to take notes while you're watching. You can use these later, if you want to, to review what was covered. Let's get started.
View Video Segment: Sherrie Without Boundaries (7 minutes)
Boundaries help us to differentiate ourselves from someone else; they show where each person begins and ends. Right now we're going to look at some examples of boundaries as well as what falls within our boundaries, those things for which each of us is responsible.
Let's Talk: Examples of Boundaries and the Responsibilities That Come with Them (15 Minutes)
Participant's Guide pages 11-14.
Please turn to pages 12-13 of your Participant's Guide. There you'll see two lists-one of types of boundaries and another of those things that fall within our boundaries.
1. In a moment, I will split you into seven small groups and assign each group a
cluster from one of the lists found on pages 12-13.
2. If your group is assigned some examples of boundaries, talk about why each is
considered a boundary and what people can do to keep that particular boundary
3. If your group is assigned some of the responsibilities that come with boundaries,
talk about what being responsible for each of these areas involves or (perhaps an
easier question to answer) what irresponsibility in each area looks like.
4. When we come back together as a large group, a spokesperson from each group
will share your small group ideas with the rest of us.
5. You'll also notice some "Boundary Building" questions at the end of each page.
You will find "Boundary Building" questions throughout this and subsequent sessions.
These important questions-intended for later, after the session-can help
you build healthy boundaries for yourself.
6. You will have 8 minutes to complete this exercise.
After dividing your large group into seven small groups, assign each group a cluster of topics to discuss (see clusters A-G below).
Examples of Boundaries (4 groups)
Cluster A: Skin (What good does skin keep in and what bad does it keep out?);
words (especially the word no)
Cluster B: Truth (about God and about who you are); time (as in "time away
Cluster C: Geographical distance (removing yourself from a situation); emotional
distance (guarding your heart)
Cluster D: Other people (How can other people help you set and keep boundaries?);
consequences (Why are consequences necessary to strong boundaries?)
Responsibilities That Come with Boundaries (3 groups)
Cluster E: Feelings, attitudes/beliefs, desires
Cluster F: Behaviors, choices, values, thoughts
Cluster G: Limits, talents, love/trust
Excerpted from Limites / Boundaries by Henry Cloud Copyright © 2001 by Henry Cloud. Excerpted by permission.
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