Chapter OneWhat Is a Boundary?
In this session you will
Define what boundaries are-and why they are important
Identify some examples of boundaries
Find out what we are responsible for within our boundaries
Learn that the concept of boundaries comes from the
nature of God himself
Discover how boundaries result in freedom, which leads to
Sherrie Without Boundaries
Sherrie is trying to do a good job with her marriage, her
children, her job, her relationships, and her Lord. Yet it's
obvious that something isn't right. Life isn't working.
Sherrie isn't able to draw and maintain boundaries around
what is hers, boundaries that would help keep out what isn't
In the physical world, boundaries are easy to see, and they
give the message: THIS IS WHERE MY PROPERTY
BEGINS. The owner of the property is legally responsible
for what happens on his or her property. Nonowners are not
responsible for the property.
Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their
property, 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.
A variety of things, including past hurts, poor models, and
misunderstood Christian teachings, cause weak boundaries
or boundaries that don't exist at all.
Boundaries 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. Boundaries also protect us from the bad.
Examples of Boundaries and the
Responsibilities That Come with Them
1. The leader will split the large group into seven small groups
and assign each group a cluster from one of the lists found on
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 strong.
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 you come back together as a large group, a spokesperson
from each small group will share your group's ideas with
5. You'll also notice some "Boundary Building" questions at the
end of each page. These important questions-intended for
later-can help you build healthy boundaries for yourself.
6. You will have 8 minutes to complete this exercise.
Examples of Boundaries
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 from")
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
Cluster E: Feelings, attitudes/beliefs, desires
Cluster F: Behaviors, choices, values, thoughts
Cluster G: Limits, talents, love/trust
MORE ON BOUNDARIES
Boundaries help us distinguish our property so that we can
___________ ___________ ________ ________-and we
are responsible for taking care of it. We need to keep things
that will ______________us inside our fences and keep
things that will ______________ us outside. In short,boundaries help us keep the _________ in and the
_____________ out. But these fences need to have gates so
that we can let good in and let out any bad.
This concept of boundaries comes from the very _________
of God. God defines himself as a distinct being __________
from his creation and from us. He has boundaries within the
_____________. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are
one, but at the same time they are distinct persons with
their own boundaries.
God also _____________ 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 ________
___________ _____________, we have personal responsibilities
within limits, within boundaries that we set and maintain.
BOUNDARY BUILDING ----
1. Think of a time when you stuck by your boundary in a
particular area and people honored it. (What were the circumstances? Why were you able to maintain your boundary? How did people respond? What did you learn from
this experience?) Consider what hinders you from keeping
each boundary strong. (Look back at a time when
someone did not honor a boundary you set and try to
identify why that happened.)
2. Now consider the list of boundaries from another perspective.
Which boundaries, when set by other people, do
you need to do a better job of honoring? Why might you
have a hard time honoring people's boundaries, especially
certain ones? What will you do to be more respectful of
the boundaries of the people in your life?
BOUNDARY BUILDING ----
1. What do you tend to do with your feelings (especially
anger)-ignore them or let them be in charge? Why do
you think you respond in the way you do?
2. Which attitudes and beliefs do you hold that are causing
you to make poor choices or experience pain? What will you do to get those attitudes and beliefs in
line with God's truth?
3. Paul says, "A man reaps what he sows" (Gal. 6:7).
When has someone interrupted the law of sowing and
reaping in your life and protected you from consequences that could have been good teachers? What
4. What choices in your life have you failed to take
responsibility for? Whom are you blaming for what circumstances
of your life?
5. When have you been caught up in valuing the
approval of people rather than the approval of God
(John 12:43)? What lesson did you learn from that
experience or from seeing someone else caught in that
6. Where in your life today would you do well to limit your exposure to someone? What is keeping you from
doing so? What destructive desires do you need to
learn to say no to? What good desires do you need to
learn to say no to because the timing isn't right?
7. What talents, gifts, and abilities are you currently
exercising? What talent, gift, or ability are you afraid
to exercise? What step will you take to overcome that
8. Name one area of your life in which you would do
well to think through some issues for yourself. What
are you doing to grow in your knowledge of God and
his Word? Whom are you expecting to be able to read
your mind? To whom are you afraid to communicate
your thoughts? What do you think keeps you from
9. When have you experienced the fulfillment of a God-given
desire? Be specific about the circumstances and
your feelings. What desires are you currently pursuing
that your heavenly Father, wise parent that he is, is
probably not interested in giving you?
10. How healthy is the inflow of love in your life? What
healthy, godly relationships nurture you? How healthy
is the outflow of love in your life? Where are you giving
to others the kind of unconditional love God has