I’ve been reading a book this week, while on retreat, about the importance of boundaries. (The book, not surprisingly, is called Boundaries! It’s a classic, written 30 years ago and updated more recently by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.)
All healthy people have boundaries in their lives, among them the ability to be able to say ‘no’ when needed. There are some folks who can’t do that, even for the best of reasons. Some people think that it would be unchristian of them to say ‘no’.
But there are times when it is wholly appropriate. I’ll let you read the book to learn more about that.
One key application, though, comes in this manner: we do well to say ‘no’ to something good, in order that we may say ‘yes’ to something better.
For instance, it is wise to deprive ourselves of some purchase in order that we may save to make a better purchase. That’s an unpopular approach these days, given the ease with which we may go into debt! But it’s wise stewardship.
Or we may not get involved in a relationship with a potential spouse when we know it would be ‘settling’; better that we wait for a better match.
Even church leaders have to make these kinds of decisions, don’t they? If a person or group in the congregation proposes to the leadership that they undertake a particular ministry, sometimes the leadership needs to say ‘no’, in order to allocate human and financial resources toward something that better fits the mission and vision of the church.
Boundaries matter. Even Jesus had boundaries, whether it was in being in the temple, about his Father’s business, at age 12 (while his parents went looking for him), or walking away from a crowd demanding miracles so that he could spend alone time with the Father.
This isn’t a book review, but I commend the book to your interest. You can find it here if you’d like to read it. (For St. Paul’s readers, let me know if you’d like to be involved in a study of this book…there are some copies available.)
“Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray” (Matthew 14.22b-23a, NLT).