Doing Life Together


Dr. Ben Carson, renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and now presidential candidate, was raised in poverty to a single mom who lived in a tough neighborhood. Ben’s mom worked two to three jobs in order to put food on the table. She didn’t want to be a victim. Instead, she instilled a work ethic into both of her boys.

Ben’s mom didn’t have an easy life. She grew up in foster homes as one of 24 siblings and married at the age of 13. When she learned that her husband was a bigamist, she made the difficult decision to divorce and go it alone. When raising her sons, she paid attention to the habits of the high achieving families with whom she worked. She made her boys read books even though she couldn’t read. She believed they could be great.

Single moms have a lot on their plates when it comes to raising strong teens, but the job can be done.

Here’s what one single mom had to say about raising teens. “I have three pieces of advice. Depend on the Lord because you need His strength, wisdom and guidance. Don’t make your child the little man or a second mom. And finally, stay positive, tapping in to support and help when you need it.”

Research supports this mom’s advice. Single moms fare best when they…

  • Have an optimistic attitude about the future and themselves
  • Have reliable support network
  • Have supportive relationships with family members and ex spouses
  • Have firm rules and consistency in values
  • Work at financial and job security
  • Have reliable child care
  • Don’t bad mouth their teen’s father

So if you are a single mom, be encouraged. God will equip you to do the job and raise strong kids! Dr. Carson is just one  of many children who came from a rough beginning, but was positively influenced  by his mother and her faith. With God, all things are possible.


leaderAre you a leader? You don’t have to be a CEO or President of an organization. You can be a leader in your family, school, church or in the community. One definition of a leader is someone who has followers.

We see and hear a lot about unhealthy leaders, but what about leaders who get it right? Can we identify practices that make a leader healthy?

In their “Leadership Practices Inventory,” Kouzes and Posner (1997) propose that exemplary leaders evidence five essential practices. They:

1) Challenge the process (seeking opportunities to challenge themselves and their organizations to improve beyond the status quo). Challenging the process can be threatening in organizations headed by insecure and unhealthy leaders. Challenge is not viewed as an opportunity for growth and creativity, but as a threat to the existing status quo. The healthy leader welcomes challenge, believing that new and innovative ways to see and do things only leads to growth.

2) Inspire a shared vision (a passionate belief in making a difference and creating a living breathing future direction for themselves and the organization). Inspiring vision is critical to providing meaning and direction for the future. Vision is where you begin, but has the end in sight. Vision creates clarity of purpose which is why the Bible says without it, a people perish. You lose sight and often lose heart when a vision isn’t clear or articulated. What is the vision for your family, your community, or your organization. Clarify it and then inspire others.

3) Enable others to act (fostering collaboration and team building) Empowering others to buy in, feel a part of the team and work together marks a healthy leader. Those who micromanage, refuse to delegate and create a top-down organization create an unhealthy dependence and paralysis in organizations and groups. Empower vs. do for!

4) Model the way (providing examples of the standards of excellence they espouse). Your parents said it and it’s true of any leader, “Actions speak louder than words.” No one likes to work for a hypocrite who says one thing and does another. Lead by example.

5) Encourage the heart (an element often also associated with a high EQ leader – emotional intelligence). Emotional intelligence requires awareness of your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. EQ leaders are more successful according to research. They foster a climate that  produces high performance. They have empathy, compassion and understand the needs of those they serve.


upset coupleRachel: “He’s so controlling! I can’t even go out with friends or he gets mad. Should I be concerned about this or does this mean that he really loves me?”

Barb: “You should be concerned! Someone who gets upset when you go out with friends is controlling. Why does he want to isolate you like that? That is not healthy!”

Barb is right. Anyone who is easily angered when you spend time with friends is walking the fine line between control and abuse. Controlling people want you under their thumb and doing things their way. The root of this is insecurity and codependency in a relationship. And the problem is that when someone is controlling, it can escalate to abuse.

So what are the warning signs of a controlling person in a relationship? Ask these 10 questions:

1) Are you feeling manipulated? Controlling people give love and affection in order to get something. If you are not getting the same in return, but feel you constantly have to do things the way the other person wants things done, you are being manipulated.

2) Are you being isolated? Just like the story above, controlling people like to isolate you in order to have more control over your thinking and behavior. Other people are threats because they might challenge the controlling person’s thoughts and actions. Isolation becomes a strategy to shield you from healthy relationships.

3) Are you being put down? Another strategy of a highly controlling person is to tear away at your self-esteem. When your confidence is low, you will be more dependent on the person. So think about if you are given compliments or encouraged.

4) Can you question the person and talk about issues? If the person is easily upset when you question them or want to discuss a problem, this is a sign of control. If they are always right, then you begin to question your own thoughts or build resentment-both lead to problems.

5) When the pressure is on, are you being lied to? The need to control often outweighs the need to tell the truth. If you question the person, know the truth and the person lies, this is a red flag.

6) Are you being asked to change? Does the person not like your hair, clothes, the way you talk to people, your laugh, your outgoing personality,  etc.? If the focus in on you making change to make the person like you more, run from this relationship!

7) Are you experiencing anger over little things? You talked to a co-worker, arrived to dinner five minutes late, forgot to call one night and the person explodes with anger, telling you how insensitive or uncaring you are. Pay attention. Over the top jealousy and anger over small things are signs of control.

8) Are you trying to set boundaries with no success? Controlling people don’t like boundaries. It limits their control. When you say, “No,” they don’t respect it and continue to push to get their way.

9) Are you uncomfortable with the person’s temper or moods? Huge red flag here because moodiness and the inability to regulate moods speak to an anger problem. Everyone has a bad day now and then but if the moodiness is persistent, and you find yourself feeling a little afraid, this is more than a bad day.

10) Are you the only one the person spends time with on a regular basis? Does the person have other friends, who are they? Does the person have good family relationships, relationships in the church or in the community? If the person is alone most of the time, this is a signal that relationships are problematic and may be plagued with control issues as well.




What does it mean to be called by God? Too often we think this means we need to work in a  ministry or  church. But calling is something every person of faith must embrace.

First and foremost is to understand that vocation and calling are the same. In his helpful book, The Call, author Os Guinness reminds us that most of us long to fulfill a purpose in life bigger than ourselves and want to operate with meaning and purpose. To work and move in such purpose requires us to understand that God calls us first to himself, and out of that calling comes everything else.

Calling and vocation are not separate. Whether our calling is to be the best mother possible or the CEO of a corporation, the central focus of our calling is to God first. Calling centers us and is more than being and doing because it also involves becoming all that God intended. Whether you work in a secular or religious setting is irrelevant. Knowing your call, no matter where you operate, gives meaning to work.

 Do What You Are

Related to calling, always be who you are and act in accordance with the giftings God has given you. In our culture, we often allow jobs to define us. But Guinness says that instead of becoming what we do, we are to do what we are.

God has given us gifts to be used in the service to others. We steward those gifts through the work God provides and calls us to do. C.S. Lewis says it this way, “The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.”

What God leads me to do may not be the same for you. So comparing yourself to others and acting as if there is one path to fulfill the call of God in your life is narrow thinking and not wise. Each of us is unique and need to focus on who we are and allow God to lead us accordingly.

So embrace who you are and where God has placed you. You are called first to Him and out of that call everything else flows.