Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gentleness, Firmness and Boundaries

"Work on being firm and do not worry about being gentle, since you are naturally gentle" said my mentor in one of our sessions.

I always worried that in being firm I'd be rude, but this new approach to firmness that my mentor was suggesting was something I never thought of before.

This is one of the most difficult traits I've been working on. Growth is painfully slow, filled with fear and anxiety.

I'm afraid that If I become more firm I will be disliked.

I'm afraid that I will become rude.

I'm afraid I will say or do the things that hurt me in the past.

As irrationals as these fears may be, they are persistent and require a lot of mental energy to shake off. Besides, there is a grain of truth in all of them. Firmness may come across as rigidness, and your will undoubtedly hurt someone's feelings.

People will get angry and hurt, and this is okay.

The "this is okay" part is the latest realization of mine. It came almost suddenly in my head, an almost spontaneous eureka moment.

No, it is not okay to intentionally hurt people and get them angry. But if after being gentle and firm about your boundaries someone else gets angry and offended, then one should see this as part of the process of being firm. A natural process of living life.

After all, Jesus, gentle and meek as He is, still managed to hurt, anger and offend many people during His ministry, especially the religious authorities.

Prophets were killed for speaking the truth. Truth not always hurts, but the liberation it brings can hurt.

We all want to be liked. The reality of life, however, is that we will be liked, disliked and even hated. Our goal in life is not to mold our personalities in the most likable fashion, but to be the individuals (and community) God created us to be.

We are not called to be liked but to grow in the likeness of Christ.

The goal of becoming the golden coin everyone likes is met with many perils and it can bring the opposite, dreaded consequence.

We can have loose boundaries, camouflage the truth with little lies, be as nice as you can be.

Then people can come and walk over you.

Your self esteem suffers. Your self image suffers. And with it the ability to connect with more people in healthy ways. You lose friends. You are less liked.

How much better is to simply be who God created you to be! The freedom that comes from pursuing Christ and His purpose for you, instead of pursuing people's desires and fleeting fancies!

Grow in Him. Pursue Him. Love Him and love your neighbor as yourself, for the law consists of this. All the rest will be given to you.


  1. It is OK to be firm for the right reasons. One way I stand my ground is by saying "I am not comfortable with this ... or with doing this ..."

    Christ was not comfortable with the teachings of the Pharisees and Saducees and the trickery of the lawyers asking their clever questions. He was also not comfortable with the sellers in the temple. And ... in extreme cases ... He acted accordingly. All we need do is follow His example with love and gentleness.

    God bless.

    1. Amen Victor.

      We need to be clear and firm about our boundaries, and yet gentle at the same time. It is not always easy!


      Jose D. Pinell.

  2. You are not alone in these feelings Daniel. I have benefitted from this post. You have a very wise mentor.

    1. Hi Mary Lee:
      Yes, many of us struggle with this. Yes, Jose, my mentor, is very wise. Many of us in IC are blessed to have him!