Love and Boundaries

Love. Caring about a person’s well-being irrespective of what they can give back to you and regardless of what they may do to you. When practiced, love is powerful. But it is not practical unless it is guided by boundaries. Love and boundaries need to be independently alive and healthy. Love without boundaries leads to relationships of abuse. Boundaries without love leads to relationships of restrictions and rules.

love and boundaries

Establish Boundaries with Confidence

Many draw on the life and teachings of Jesus to learn love. Whether you believe that He is a teacher, a prophet, or God, His teachings are well regarded to be drenched in love. Forgiveness, grace, mercy, and humility all marked His life. His strength was grounded in love. Some, however, confuse love with being weak, a pushover. In any relationship, whether in leadership, a family relationship, or a friendship, love does not mean that we allow another person to consistently cross certain boundaries.

What are those boundaries? It is entirely up to you to define them. Create your own boundaries. Go ahead, don’t be afraid. Then confidently enforce them. Gently, at first. Then, directly when needed. These are your boundaries, so be confident to defend them forcefully and aggressively if they are being crossed.

Let’s go back to Jesus. We recently started talking about becoming a Second Mile Organization at our clinic. Going the second mile is a teaching of Jesus. He says if someone forces you to go one mile, go with them a second. That’s a principle steeped in love. It is a principle of forgiveness and mercy. I love going the second mile for my patients. I love going the second mile for my staff. However, it would be completely wrong for me to equate going the second mile for my patients and employees to becoming oppressed or abused by them.

I have on several occasions asked patients to leave my clinic if they cross certain boundaries of decency with me or my staff. I have fired employees for similar reasons. Enforcing those boundaries does not take away from my love for them. But as a leader, there are boundaries that I must defend. Otherwise, my love cannot be practically practiced.

Jesus always stood up for Himself and had clear boundaries, though you rarely hear about this when his life is spoken of. He put the Pharisees in their place, all the time. He did not take abuse from them. He stood up to His own disciples when He needed to. He told Peter once, “Get away from me Satan.” And yes, He even became physically violent when merchants were using the temple for profit.

This is the same Jesus Who washed the feet of His disciples. It is the same Jesus Who loved the unlovable, the lepers, and the outcasts of His day. It is the same Jesus Who died willingly to save the world.

Enforce Boundaries with Love

Loving people does not mean that you lay prostrate and let them trample all over you. Twitter_logo_blue You are not a doormat. Neither does maintaining boundaries mean you become a dictator without grace, patience, or forgiveness. You are not a tyrant.

First, you must be clear as to what your boundaries are. When people cross them, do not ungracefully become loud and pushy. Be very kind. And in the right time communicate to that person in private that a boundary was crossed. Thoughtfully choose the right words and the right tone. If they cross them again, you must keep pushing back as gently as possible, but with increasing directness depending on the situation.

May God give you and me the wisdom to be paragons of love, mercy, patience, and forgiveness. And may He give us the wisdom and courage to stand up for ourselves when someone is being irreverent or abusive.

You cannot lead people if you do not love them. You cannot lead people if you are scared to love them and allow them to push you around. Love and boundaries. We must practice both with patience and grace, but also with expectancy and strength. Twitter_logo_blue It takes a lifetime to learn how to balance them seamlessly.

If you feel you may be lacking in either, don’t feel bad. Just start reflecting on it, and learning how you can move forward in this most important area of leadership.

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

BOOK-MEdelegation formula

For Further Reading:

6 Reasons Leaders Don’t Build Relationships With Those They Lead
Four Secrets To Resilient Relationships

 

2 Comments
  • Misty Gilbert
    Posted at 10:40h, 13 June Reply

    Loved the thoughts you shared here in this post. I think sometimes we struggle to make boundaries because we feel that that means we are mean, rigid, and uncaring. Yet in reality, when we set boundaries, we actually bring into our life more love and connection, not less. I am currently reading Boundaries in Dating and as the book states, all relationships require boundaries to thrive. Boundaries protect your emotions, values, behaviors and attitudes. Good boundaries will help you choose better quality people because they help you become a better person.

    Thanks for always inspiring us to dig deeper and redefine what we want out of life and how to love others in the process!

    Misty

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 13:02h, 21 September Reply

      Thank you Misty for your awesome comment, as always! I totally agree with you, boundaries are so important for healthy relationships. I think the key that most people who love to draw boundaries miss, is that the vast majority of boundaries can and should be set and enforced gently. Setting boundaries so many times becomes an excuse to being insensitive and reckless with the relationship with others.

      Thank you for always investing in others!

      Wes

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