Initial Thoughts: Boundaries

I’ve picked up a new book. I’m a chapter into it.

It’s so easy to forget first impressions once they’ve progressed into fully developed opinions. So I’m pausing to share my thoughts on the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

Someone I really respect encouraged me to read this book. She recommended it in response to a discussion we had in which I shared my tendency to take on more commitments than I can handle (due to my woeful inability to say “no”).


My dear friend encouraged me to look past the book’s tagline – “when to say yes, how to say no to take control of your life.” The unfortunate phrase suggests that we want to be the captains of our own lives when in fact we want God to be the Captain. In spite of that, she was hopeful that the book contained content I could learn and grow from.

The first chapter introduced the concept of having “boundaries” in multiple areas of life: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It started in story mode, narrating one day in the life of a woman with no boundaries – that is, who was unable to say no when people requested or demanded things of her. On the one hand, her problem was so obvious it seemed cheesy or overdone. But then I found myself relating and finding that I do just the same thing.

The chapter ended by listing some questions that the book promises to answer, one of which is, “Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries?”

The second chapter of the book is titled, “What Does a Boundary Look Like?”

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book with a mind easily impressed by the Lord’s truths and diligent to measure everything against His Word.

Let’s Engage

  • Have you ever read or heard of the book “Boundaries”?
  • Do you struggle with when to say yes and how to say know? What biblical advice would you share with someone who struggles?
  • Would a book’s tagline put you off reading it? What is the most important factor for you in choosing a book to read?

4 thoughts on “Initial Thoughts: Boundaries

  1. I just saw you started reading this on goodreads. 🙂 I have heard of the book, and it intrigued me, but I guess I haven’t noticed a problem for myself in that area, so I haven’t bought the book. (I seem to struggle making decisions at all, not just saying no!) I hope it can be helpful to you though, and remain true to biblical principles as well. I’ll be looking forward to reading more of your thoughts as you progress through it. 🙂

    A book’s tagline would put me off reading it, yes, if it was something I disagreed with. But then, books are so much more than their tagline, and sometimes even the back cover blurbs can be misleading. These days I actually rarely buy books if I haven’t heard of them before (mostly through goodreads). If I recognize a book and know I marked it as want-to-read on goodreads, I know I’ve already had a look at reviews and the blurb and decided it would be worth reading. Do you mostly buy books you’ve already researched, or pick whatever catches your attention?


    1. Thanks for your comment, Jess. I’ve been thinking of you a lot recently. I know I have an email from you that’s been sitting in my inbox a while, and I was actually hoping to write back sometime today (now that I’ve told you, hold me to it 😉 ).

      Already it’s been a growing experience. I’ve been talking with the Lord about it and started looking up the Bible references. I’m already considering what I might share about it later in the month… although that probably won’t be for a couple of weeks yet.

      By choosing to buy books the way you do, you probably help cut down on extra lengthening of your to-read list! I haven’t “needed” to buy books in a long time as I have access to so many books that I want to read but haven’t yet read. That said, I still seize the chance to get new books when it comes, because living in Cambodia the chance is seldom. We wait until someone is visiting us from overseas, then we ask them if we can buy books online and have them mailed to their address if they would be willing to bring them to us in their luggage. I usually choose books that I know I’ve wanted to read for a long time. Where do you usually buy books from? Online or locally? New or second hand?


  2. I talked to my mom about something similar to this recently. I asked her what the difference was between being selfless and being a people pleaser.
    She said one of the main differences is why you do it. When you’re doing things for people out of love for them, that’s being selfless. But when you do things for people because you feel obligation or so that they’ll like you, that’s people pleasing.
    I’ve never heard of that book.
    With me, for reading, if I’m choosing a book then usually the title is what catches my attention, or the cover. Then I’ll read the blurb and sometimes the first chapter.


    1. You’re mom put that well; I would do myself a favor to remember her words. And as well as doing myself a favor I think I would be living more faithfully to the Lord’s beautiful design for Christian living. Thanks for passing on her words, Sarah!


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