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

Tempered Heartbreak

Written by: on December 7, 2022

I was excited to read Tempered Resilience by Tod Bolsinger. Kristy Newport recommended this book to me earlier in the semester as a positive resource for my NPO and she was correct. This was the perfect resource for my portfolio project and also the ideal read for my psyche this past week. Life has been a whirlwind for me since Thanksgiving and somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster. My eleven-year-old son received a vaccine that he should not have at his pediatrician’s office just under three weeks ago. He has severe allergies and a weak immune system and this was nothing new to the office he’s been a patient of his entire life. Within days after his check-up and injection, he started experiencing pain in his joints and a growth the size of a golf ball emerged on his wrist and foot, and a new one is forming on his head. His pain is increasing and he’s been out of all sporting activities for weeks, which is his most favorite thing in the world. He has also missed a lot of school due to discomfort and many visits with specialists. My wife and I are absolutely broken over this and what I hate the most is that I can’t do a thing about it myself. Is there anything worse than witnessing your child in pain? How did God do it? How did Mary do it? How could anyone love anything so much that they would allow their precious child to die for the sins of the world? I am blown away; even more so this week as I ponder that. There is no way I could ever volunteer my child to be beaten, mocked, and murdered. I can hardly take my son in the smallest amount of pain. The amount of love God has for each of us is absolutely incomprehensible to me.

We are obviously praying non-stop (and appreciate yours) and getting him the best help possible, but we’re at an unnerving stage where we really do not have any clear answers yet. The Lord may be testing me in some way because as we are in the thick of this heartbreaking situation, one of our closest friends experienced a sudden cardiac arrest and has been in three different hospitals since last Friday and is still unconscious. Their son has worked for me for the past two years and his parents are some of the closest friends my wife and I have. We’ve been in contact with them daily and spent many hours in the hospital with them, while concurrently juggling our own hospital visits, drama, and normal responsibilities. If all of this were not enough, we (perhaps mistakenly) decided to launch our ministry this past week (that we’ve waited years to unveil) due to the timing of the upcoming New Year and our ministry’s foundation of wellness.

I normally prefer to read books on a cardio machine but there has been little time for any type of personal maintenance lately. Bolsinger’s book was a perfect distraction for me in waiting rooms and helped me put a lot of this semester together in my mind, heart, and final reflection essay. Bolsinger assisted me this week like a health coach or personal trainer would a client. I finished this book and felt like I was repping out pages and building endurance each day. I do not believe I would be able to handle all of this the same way a few years ago. I still have moments of stress that get the best of me but for some reason, I am fully confident and have had no other choice but to hand it to Jesus. In the past, I would grind harder in times of stress and usually make unwise decisions. Thankfully with the Spirit’s assistance, I have incorporated discernment into my life and it has been my saving grace. Reflecting on this situation in this blog and my leadership journey in my syntopical essay has helped me put my transformation into a positive perspective and I give God all the glory for it.

Bolsinger’s book has motivated me to continue this pursuit and continue to refine my resilient and tempered leadership skills. They do not come naturally to me and I am actually a recovering “control freak” that requires additional therapy. I particularly enjoyed unpacking the powers of Christian Formation and Organizational Leadership Development. He states on page 37, “While the nomenclature varies, the characteristics of transformational spiritual leaders and organizational change leaders make up a list of attributes for a tempered, resilient leader; one that is grounded, teachable, attuned, adaptable, and tenacious.”[1] These characteristics are powerful and will tune any leader, regardless of how off-key their life is.

“A tempered leader can be resilient and withstand both failure of nerve and failure of heart.”[2] My nerves and heart can’t take much more but I am grateful that my faith is grounded in Christ and my courage comes from Him. Psychologist Cynthia Erikson said, “Courage requires a Christian identity of knowing you are loved and affirmed by God, and your identity is not in your achievements or titles.”[3] Psalm 31:24 reads, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.”[4] This is echoed in James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”[5]  Avoiding fear and finding all of your identity in Christ is a recurring theme of the Bible, however, I am still searching for a scripture that says it would be easy…

[1] Bolsinger, Tod. 2020. Tempered Resilience. InterVarsity Press. 37

[2] Ibid, 38

[3] Ibid, 38

[4] Psalm 31:24, ESV

[5] James 1:12, ESV

About the Author

Michael O'Neill

Director of Operations / Executive Pastor at Kinergy, Inc. Federal 501c3 Non-Profit Organization. An experienced entrepreneur, leader, father, wellness professional, and owner of a multi-location medical practice with my wife, Nicole O'Neill, MD.

18 responses to “Tempered Heartbreak”

  1. mm Becca Hald says:

    Michael, thank you for sharing so vulnerably. I am praying for your son and for your friend. It is not easy to watch a loved one in pain. I had an easier time undergoing brain surgery than waiting for news that my husband was out of surgery on his ankle. If there is a scripture that says life will be easy, I have yet to find it, but I rest on 2 Cor. 12:9-10:

    “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

    This passage has carried me through many trials. May the Lord carry you through this season and continue to provide you with all that you need to sustain you as He did with this book.

  2. Michael O'Neill says:

    Thank you, Becca. For the prayers and encouragement. I agree with you and share the feelings of sacrifice for my family. It’s still scary but we are seeing improvement today. We also received good news on his most recent labs and we’re making a lot of progress. One more specialist tomorrow, Thank you, again.

  3. Michael,

    Thank you for sharing in this post. I too have found that knowing where my identity is found is key for overcoming fear and having courage. Do you have any practical advice for this identity shift?

  4. Michael O'Neill says:

    Thanks, Sara. Deep prayer. Alone, or with my a spouce. We call it the “prayer chair” but I’m rarely sitting when I go there. For me it’s all about the elimination of the negative thoughts, like a purge of the darkness. That is where I find peace and when I know my true identity in Christ with the most confidence. Thank you!

  5. mm David Beavis says:

    Michael, there are no words for the suffering and heartbreak you and your family have experienced lately. May this time of suffering shape you into the leader God is molding you to be. Take care brother.

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you. I appreciate the prayers. We have seen improvement in our son although we lost our good friend, Rick this past weekend. I feel terrible for their whole family.

      Thank you for the support.

  6. Tonette Kellett says:


    I am praying for your friend as you wait, and for you and your family. Waiting and not knowing is difficult. Take care of yourself.

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you, Tonette. I really appreciate the prayers. We are witnessing the power of prayer in our son, Lincoln. He is recovering and we’re hopeful there will be no long term effects. We unfortunately lost our friend Rick this past week. It’s so sad.

      Thank you again for the prayers and support.

  7. Alana Hayes says:


    I am heartbroken the degree of reaction that your sons body is having to the vaccine, and how worried you all are as you sit and wait.

    I know the feeling all too well as this happened to my son when he was one year old on a Friday to a drug he was allergic to. They simply apologized and sent us home. The waiting will eat you alive as you know if its attacking their little body on the outside like it is, what is it doing on the inside?

    The grief and torture that we put ourselves through as parents is almost unbearable.

    All I know to do is join you in prayer. I stand with you claiming that the doctor he needs come forward and he be healed through the Father. I pray that his body is spared from any pain.

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you so much, Alana. Everyone’s post is making me want to ball my eyes out. I am thankful for all of you and also for the answered prayers. Lincoln our son is doing much better and we’re praying for nothing long-term. As for our friend Rick, he unfortunately did not make it. It’s so sad. We are supporting them and praying they lean on God in this terrible time and some how some good comes out of this tragedy.

      Thank you for your kind words and prayers. It means the world to me.

  8. Michael – I am praying for you, your son, wife and friends. What an overload of emotion and suffering. I pray God will bring you His perfect peace in the midst of it all. I would love to learn more about the launch of your ministry. Is there a web site where I can learn more?

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you, Laura. It means the world to me. Unfortunately, we lost our good friend Rick this past weekend. It’s extremely sad and I’m praying that God continues to move through this family who does not quite understand any of it. I pray that our family can somehow be God’s hands and feet in this tragedy. On a brighter side, Lincoln our son is doing much better and hopes to return to sports after Christmas break. We will continue to pray there is nothing long term and monitor him daily.

      Thank you again for your prayers and support.

  9. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Michael – I am so sorry that your friend passed. This is truly a difficult time for you all. I know God is with you all in the grief offering comfort and love.
    I am glad to read that your son is getting better. Health issues are the worse when it comes to your children because there is nothing you can do to make it better!
    Thank you for sharing so open and vulnerably. I am amazed by the care and support from our group. We are sharing so much of our lives together. God knew we would need each other in this season – so much more than supporting and commiserating when we are writing papers – but sharing our lives together. I am blessed to know you.

  10. Michael O'Neill says:

    Thank you, Chad. I am blessed to know you and this entire group. I believe in prayer and I feel Him working. Thank you for your support. Enjoy these next few weeks!

  11. mm Audrey Robinson says:

    I cannot begin to comprehend the level of pain and grief you and your family and friends are experiencing. But I do know our Savior and His unfailing love.

    A favorite Psalm, NLT, 62:2: He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

    I pray that this Psalm and others will be the lifter of your head and heart during these times. He watches over His Word.

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you, Audrey. I missed this post in the serious times we were going through. We lost our friend right before Christmas but our son had a full recovery and everything is great. Thank you for the prayers and inspiration.

  12. Kristy Newport says:

    I am reading this today (January 9, 2023). You have had a full December. I am curious how your son is doing and I am praying that his symptoms have subsided or have gone away all together. I pray he is not in pain. I am curious how your friend is doing. Is he still in the hospital? So much has also happened with Kinergy. I know you may not have time to update us on these things but I want you to know that I am praying. You mentioned these verses in your blog and they are my prayer for you and your son and your friend.

    Psalm 31:24 reads, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.”
    James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you for the prayers and inspiration. We lost our good buddy and it was not easy. It’s still hard because we’re so close to the family but I feel grateful in a way that we were able to share our faith with them on such an intimate level.

      My son had a full recovery. It was scary but God is so good and he had a rough go but it’s gone!

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