This year’s 10 Days Early Morning Prayer book is “Boundaries”, written by Dr. Henry Cloud. If I can only recommend two books on leadership, the first would be “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and this would be the clear second. This book is not only transformative for building a better relationship, but a healthy self.
Dr. Cloud is a clinical psychologist and an acclaimed leadership expert. His medical knowledge of how humans function and his Christian beliefs provide a unique perspective on building a healthy self and relationships, which is the idea of “boundaries”.
The concept of “boundaries” is not foreign. It is something we see in property lines and businesses. Every time we are faced with what is allowed and what is not, we are experiencing some form of “boundaries”. But when it comes to human relationships, it tends to get blurry, or even invisible. According to the author, this is why our relationships feel chaotic and messy.
Many people grew up with lack of boundaries. When they were kids, they often experienced their parents brushing off their opinions and desires as unimportant and inferior. When they insisted of being heard, they were frequently rewarded with more yelling and intimidation. Soon, they begin to believe that setting boundaries for themselves is not only futile, but bad. Because they wonder, “How can something good make my life worse?” And, Christian teachings on loving people and serving each other sacrificially only seems to enhance this notion of “setting boundaries is bad”.
But the author argues that when we correctly understand God’s nature and those popular teachings in the right context, we become empowered to set right boundaries (even strong one) with clean conscience with people around us. If done right, boundary setting is not only a good way to improve our life, but a crucial step in experiencing the abundant life Christ promised to those who trust him. (John 10:10) Because the level of our happiness is the sum of our relationships. When we don’t understand the power of our decisions and the scope of our responsibilities, we allow ourselves to go through avoidable pains and abuses.
This concept of “boundaries” is something I daily apply and adjust in my life and my ministry, especially in my parenting. Despite its many challenges, I thoroughly enjoy parenting thanks to this principle. If you want to lead yourself better and improve relationships in your life, I believe the 10 Days EMP would be a great way to start your new year.