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January 21st, 2013

Be All You Can Be


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I heard her before I saw her. She cheerfully greeted each weary passenger while we waited for our turn to use the woman’s restroom in the Charlotte, NC airport. She was the bathroom attendant and she took great pride in her work.

Immediately after a woman exited her stall, this attendant went in and wiped it down, humming Amazing Grace as she worked. Each stall freshly cleaned for the next woman to use. She wiped the sinks, emptied the trash, made sure there were towels and personal hygiene items and even set out a dish of peppermint candies for those of us who needed our breath freshened after a long trip. Person after person, hour after hour, day after day she served others simply by wiping toilets, sinks and floors, but she did it with amazing grace.

Today we remember and celebrate a great man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On October 26, 1967, he spoke to a group of junior high students in Philadelphia. Read his words to these young students:

When you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.

If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. But be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

This bathroom attendant practiced Dr. King’s words. While I was in that restroom, I overhead woman after woman compliment her on how clean she kept it, her cheerful attitude and her extra mile service. I’m sure the Lord himself smiled as he watched her practice Paul’s words, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23).

She will never know it, but that day she inspired me to press on. It’s easy to get crabby or weary and do our work with an edge of resentment or attitude of entitlement. That’s not who I want to be or what I want to do. I want to be the best possible me and do the best possible job for God’s glory.

How about you? Are you living fully or just existing, getting through each day but not very well? Are you doing your work the best you know how or do you settle for mediocrity?

Let’s learn a lesson from Dr. King today and commit to do whatever God calls us to do with excellence, with joy, with gratitude and with creative gusto. People notice even the small things when they are done with great love.

P.S. I want to warmly welcome ALL new subscribers who have joined our community since last month! You are going to love the resources you find to help you grow. I'm thrilled to have you here!

P.P.S. Don't keep this to yourself! Forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues or send them to www.leslievernick.com so they can register for themselves.




Leslie Answers Your Questions

Is There Hope For A Narcissistic Spouse?

Question: My husband has been emotionally and verbally abusive from the start. We have been married almost 7 years and have a beautiful 2 year old son. I have been trying everything within my power (counseling, using tactics to stop abuse when it's happening, anti-depressants) to "fix" my destructive marriage. In March of last year, I finally told him exactly what I thought our problem was:  that he was abusive. At that time, he received that surprisingly well. Obviously God had gone before me and prepared his heart for that.

However, 6 months later I wasn't really seeing changes and I was noticing he was giving himself a lot of slack with going to his therapy appointments, etc. So I took things up a notch. I wrote him a letter asking him to examine those behaviors and attitudes and left with our son for the weekend for him to process that in peace. What I had hoped for upon my return was a sincere apology and a renewed sense of wanting to do the right thing for our family. What I got was anger thrown at me.

A week later, I asked him to move out for a separation. I was absolutely at my wit's end. I was still hoping that he could be rattled, that the Lord was trying to get through to him through these steps I was taking.

It's been a little over 3 months now and I am still not really seeing the key changes I would like to see, such as a sincerely apologetic heart, ownership over the harm he has done and even a willingness to let me be mad. There's a lot more to our story than I can inundate you with here, but I feel that our marriage cannot be saved. I feel like divorce is imminent.

One of the therapists we have seen believes he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I don't want to just "give up" on my marriage. It feels like I am a failure. I know I have done wrong as well. I know that this isn't ALL his fault, but at a certain point it does feel like the problems of abuse and self-centeredness need to be broken before any of the other issues can be addressed. I'm at a loss. I know you can't tell me whether or not you think I should divorce from reading these few paragraphs, but I am wondering if you can speak more to the NPD factor and how long you think it takes for safety to return (referring to your series on “Can This Marriage Be Saved”). I just don't feel safe, but I don't want to deny an opportunity for safety to grow.

Answer:  Let me begin by saying I applaud your courage for trying to do things that will change the destructive dynamics of your marriage. Safety is essential for any relationship to be healthy. If you aren’t safe to be yourself, to share your thoughts and feelings in a constructive way, or to disagree without fear of punishment or retaliation, then you can’t fix what’s wrong because it’s not even safe to talk about it.

You mention that you have done wrong too. There are no perfect spouses. All marriages have things that are wrong with them, but when the marriage is relatively healthy, the husband and wife will look at their part, apologize, make amends and work toward corrections.

Let me ask you this, are any of those “wrongs” that you say you are guilty of safety issues? For example, have you not respected a time-out when your husband is getting heated and wants to end the conversation for a period of time? Or perhaps you’ve shamed and criticized him when he’s expressed his opinion or tried to disagree? If so, you can take responsibility for those things and work to change. Since you have a two year old child, the two of you must communicate around finances, issues regarding your son and visitation, and if you haven’t practiced safety in those interactions, then you can start there. Safety involves respecting boundaries, stopping destructive interactions when the other person says stop and taking responsibility for your own actions when you’ve crossed the line and scared or hurt the other person. (For those who want to read more from my 3 part article “Can This Marriage Be Saved,” go to www.christiancounseling.com and click on Leslie’s blog).

But your question is directed to help about the diagnosis of NPD and whether or not that is a “curable” problem. There are many people with NPD who are highly talented, successful people who often have a fan base of admirers and people willing to give themselves to him or her because of the afterglow it affords by being associated with such a successful person. The narcissist’s entitlement mindset seems more excusable or justified because of his or her success.


View the rest of Leslie's answer to this question by clicking the link below.




Connect with me:


Be All You Can Be


Coaching Spots Available



Leslie's upcoming interviews with Focus on the Family!



The Fantasy Fallacy book by Shannon Ethridge. Plus see the winner of the previous give away!



Is There Hope For A Narcissistic Spouse?



For more information on Leslie's coaching program, please click below.

Leslie Vernick Coaching Programs



We are pleased to share that Leslie's interview with Focus on the Family, "Finding Freedom from Destructive Relationships" was one of their highest response programs in 2012. Therefore, it is scheduled to re-air on February 5 & 6, 2013.

Also, Leslie's second interview, "Responding Well in Marital Conflict" is scheduled to air on February 18 & 19, 2013.




Book by Shannon Ethridge


Sexual and emotional fantasies tend to reveal certain areas of trauma, brokenness, and disillusionment that are yet to be healed.

Many people, including Christians, look to their sexual and emotional fantasies as a road map to where they can find the fulfillment they long for. However these fantasies aren't a reliable road map into the future, they are actually a rocky road map from the past.

Shannon Ethridge, best-selling Christian author, certified life coach, and advocate for healthy sexuality offers fascinating insights into common sexual thoughts such as:

  • dating a much older man or much younger woman

  • connecting with strangers via cyberspace

  • gay and lesbian fantasies

  • fascination with pleasure, pain, and power

Introduced in Genesis, God's design for sex, beyond procreation, is to offer connection and pleasure for marriage partners. But also in Genesis is an outline of seven sexual fallacies that bring discord, pain, and brokenness. The Fantasy Fallacy helps explain the basis for these fallacies and offers insights to help expose not only the meaning behind them, but ways to face them, heal from them, and find physical, emotional, and spiritual freedom.

Just email your name to assistant@leslievernick.com by midnight Friday, January 25th for a chance to win one of two copies!

Congratulations to Frances N. of San Francisco, CA and Ruth N. of Anderson, IN winners of the How to Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong book by Leslie Vernick.



Feb 5 & 6  Focus on the Family Interview "Finding Freedom From Destructive Relationships"

Feb 18 & 19   Focus on the Family Interview "Responding Well in Marital Conflict"

Feb 21-23  Christian Counselors of Texas, Tyler, TX


Mar 9  Women's Conference, Loudonville Community Church, Loudonville, NY


Apr 16  Ladies Night Out, Ada Bible Church, Ada, MI


May 3-4  Life Christian Counseling Network Conference, Clinton, MD


Oct 4-5  The Bible Chapel Women's Retreat, McMurray, PA

Invite Leslie to speak at one of your events.
Call us at 1-877-837-7931
leslie@leslievernick.com or
visit www.leslievernick.com




"From the very beginning of my invitation to you and then all the way through the process of developing our retreat, you had a warm and flexible spirit that was aimed to serve the lord and our women. You delivered exactly what you said you would and it was so helpful to our women. They not only walked away with a new love to honor and serve God with their lives, but also with some new practical tools of application to be the "best version of themselves."

Glenda Harr
First Covenant Church


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Send your questions about dealing with difficult people, stress, or relationship issues to:


Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.