When Karen Lindwall-Bourg founded RHEMA Counseling Associates in 2007, she had no idea the next seven years would take her on a journey beyond anything she ever could have anticipated. RHEMA Counseling Associates biblical counseling center serving the Dallas area, and Karen has built it on the concept that collaborative, team-based counseling is the best approach for all of life's problems toward godly solutions. “We seek to be a companion for families in stress on a shared journey toward insight and inspiration,” Karen said. She began her career as a counselor in 1995 with a focus on grieving families. “I was greatly helped in support groups after the death of my young husband in 1993 when the children were seven, six, and four years old,” Karen remembered. “I wanted to offer that help to others who were struggling to live after loss.”
By the summer of 2013, though, Karen was ready to close her business and quit counseling altogether. “I'd been through a year-long battle with an associate of my organization which culminated in a dissolving of our relationship on all levels,” Karen said. “I was so shaken by this devastating turn of events that I was considering selling the counseling practice I had started in 2007.” Thankfully, she became connected with Diane over the internet. “I stumbled upon and joined a few NACWE Café webinars where I won a 90-day coaching program from Diane for October, November, and December,” Karen said. “After about the twenty-first day of this 90-day program, I was calling her asking her to help me save my business!”
Since then, RHEMA Counseling Associates has thrived, and Karen even cut the ribbon on brand-new facilities last year. She has also since founded her own association. “The Helping Professionals Alliance network was established just two months after I started working with Diane because I wanted to honor the Lord with other helping professionals as we led each other toward inspired growth in our businesses and ministries,” Karen said. “I wanted to—and actually couldn't not—share what I was learning in my coaching with Diane!” The HPA meets at live events every quarter to network and share knowledge with each other. They also host monthly webinars with experts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which help members expand their creativity and spark inspiration in their businesses and practices.
Over the past two years, Karen has absorbed countless tips and tools provided by NACWE. “One of the first things I did was devour Diane's Inspired Business Toolkit—there have been times that a fellow entrepreneur has asked Diane a question, and as she has given an explanation, I have jumped in with, ‘Hey, that's in your toolkit book on page 87!’” Karen also believes having a business coach has been a vital key to revitalizing her business and saving it from going under. “Working one-on-one with a business coach has held me accountable to be prepared to talk with her at least every other week about my progress, to share my frustrations and ask for new directions, to celebrate every milestone, and to seek to prioritize tasks and clarify my purpose within my organization,” Karen said.
To an extent, NACWE does the same thing—just on a larger scale. “Being part of the membership program has opened up a brand new world of friendships and creative ideas and encouragement to me,” Karen said. “Before joining this group, outside of my family and my own team of associates, I didn't know who to talk to and actually was afraid to talk to people in my own profession about what I was doing.” Now, she’s connecting with other professionals daily. NACWE has turned Karen’s world upside-down in the best way possible. "Unless you can do it on your own (have you yet?!), you need the community and encouragement offered by this amazing group of women under the expert leadership of Diane Cunningham!” Karen said. “The first year we worked together, our association did 2.4 times the business we did the year before. Whoo-hoo! I want to do that again! I have praised God for every moment we've spent together and look forward to the growth this next season brings."
Karen’s advice for other entrepreneurs includes treasuring Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” “I can build these businesses because He gives me strength to do what He has called me to do,” Karen said. She also urges others to seek help when needed and not to try to do everything alone. It’s a good thing to take advantage of the resources others offer. Finally, one mantra helps Karen stay focused when things feel overwhelming: “Just do the next right thing!”
For Karen, faith and business are irrevocably intertwined. “I believe we all have one purpose: to bring glory and honor to God,” Karen said. “Then, we all have specific and unique vocations and callings given to us by the Lord. In all that I do in both of my organizations, I try to remember that primary purpose and serve others in ways that point them to the Lord and what He has called us to do. It is a privilege and an honor to manage two organizations that focus primarily on the Lord and secondarily on encouraging each other. I and my team of associates are doubly encouraged by the clients and customers we serve!”
Encouraging each other is especially important in a group of women. “Being female means wearing many hats and being able to think of 1,001 issues all at the same time,” Karen said. “What a blessing, and yet, what a challenge! Some of the biggest challenges include clarifying what we've been called to do, prioritizing the tasks needed to serve others in ways that please the Lord, and moving forward one task at a time until a project is completed.” However, Karen refuses to get discouraged by any extra challenges she faces as a woman in business for herself. “My favorite part about being an entrepreneur is knowing each day that I am fulfilling the calling given to me by God and that I have freedoms to create an organization—an association according to my own gifts and talents and dreams!”
Overall, Karen finds encouragement from other like-minded professionals, other female entrepreneurs, and from scripture, specifically Jeremiah 29:11–14:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
“Remembering that God has good purposes for us in the most difficult times and in the most blessed times keeps me grounded and focused on building a business that honors Him,” Karen said.
Written by Callie Revell