Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Choosing the Positive

Written by: on April 23, 2023

I stared at the paper blankly trying to think. The question should not have been a hard one. “Name three positive attributes.” I was at a psychiatrist office with my teenage son filling out paperwork to get services started. I had no trouble listing negative behaviors. Why did it take me so long to list something positive? After a few minutes of hard thinking, I was able to come up with something to fill in the blanks, but that did not diminish the anguish in my heart. I knew something had to change. I needed to change my thinking. I started a journal, everyday writing something positive my children did that day. Some days it was as simple as “Drew got out of bed,” or “Evelyn made it to school on time.” They point was to try and stem the tide of negative thoughts in my mind, to change my thinking.

As I think back to that moment, I believe that it was part of what led to the dissolution of my relationship with my parents. The rift was about negativity, and my desire to lessen the negativity in my life. I asked my mother if she could be positive towards me occasionally instead of only telling me what I was doing wrong. As painful as it was for my parents to step out of my life, it has been such a positive change for me. I have not lived under that cloud of negativity for the past eight years.

Why this story? This is what came to mind when reading Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are by Daniel Nettle. After discussing the Big Five Personality Dimensions in this book, in his last chapter, he writes, “We have, then, very considerable wiggle room if we find ourselves wanting to be different from how we have been heretofore. We also have considerable responsibility.” I found this quote encouraging. Rather than being locked into a set of traits, I can change, I can choose to be different. I do not want to remain static. I want to learn, to grow, to change.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but I know that it was worthwhile to change my thinking about my children, to change the thought patterns of negativity. I found it helpful to take the Newcastle Personality Assessor in the appendix of Nettle’s book to see where I fall. My highest scores were in Extraversion and Agreeableness. I am not surprised to see Conscientiousness as my lowest score. Knowing where my strengths and weaknesses lie, choosing to not allow myself to remain stagnant, this is what Jesus calls us to do. Paul reminds us to work out our salvation:

“Therefore, my loved ones, just as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence—work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For the One working in you is God—both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13

James reminds us we are to be doers of the Word:

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25

I want to be a follower of Jesus, to grow more like Him day by day. Nettle reminds us change is not easy:

“Changing the way you are by changing behavior patterns is not easy. It requires using the brain’s conscious, executive functions to override or even countermand very powerful, deep, often subconscious mechanisms and urges. It is deliberate, effortful, and has no guarantee of success.”

Reading, learning, studying, pursuing this Doctor of Leadership, that is all part of my process of growth and change. I am grateful to learn more each day about myself and about who I want to become. And I am grateful to tell you that my journal helped me to retrain my thinking about my children. I am so very proud of both of them and the lives they have chosen to lead.


[1] Daniel Nettle, Personality: What Makes you the Way You Are. (New York, Public Affairs, 2014), pg. 15

[1] Nettle, pg. 241.

About the Author


Becca Hald

Becca is an ordained Foursquare minister, serving as the Online Community Pastor at Shepherd's House Church. She has over twenty-five years of leadership experience both inside and outside the church. Becca has served her community in many capacities ranging from Administrative Assistant and Children’s Ministry Director to Secretary and President of multiple school organizations. She and her husband, Andrew have been married for over 25 years. They have two adult children, Drew and Evelyn. Her great passion is to equip others, to raise awareness about mental health, and to help reduce the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues. In her free time, she loves going to Disneyland, reading, sewing, and making cards.

6 responses to “Choosing the Positive”

  1. Becca, I am so proud of you! Thank you for your vulnerability and for sharing a part of your story. I love the quote you chose about “wiggle room” I value the opportunity to change and to grow too. Keep going you will do amazing things.

  2. Becca – Having a growth mindset is so important for everyone, but especially for leaders as we seek to develop others and help them transform. What are some ways you encouraged positivity and a growth-midset as you parented your children?

    • mm Becca Hald says:

      Laura, great question! I think some of it happened as a result of my health issue. My children were six and three when I had brain surgery, so basically all they have known of me is living with chronic migraines/pressure headaches. My husband traveled frequently for work, so often they had to be self sufficient when I was unable to do anything. I have also modeled being a life-long learner. I also encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams in life. My son dropped out of college his first year and we were so proud of him for deciding that college was not the route for him. He is doing incredibly well working full time and highly active in his church community. My heart broke a little when my daughter quit dance at the end of middle school, but I was so proud of her for pursuing her passion in theater.

  3. Jenny Steinbrenner Hale says:

    Becca, I love your post and your focus on the fact that we can change. I especially like this quote from Nettle that you highlighted: ““We have, then, very considerable wiggle room if we find ourselves wanting to be different from how we have been heretofore. We also have considerable responsibility.” Wow, that is full of hope, as you mentioned; and full of hard work, as you mentioned. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your hard work. I feel inspired and hopeful!

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