Mission Driven Stories: The Carson Family

“I had an inner certainty that I was on the right path in my life—the path God had chosen for me. Great things were going to happen in my life, and I had to do my part by preparing myself and being ready.” ~Ben Carson

What if we just assumed that God has a specific path for us? What if we knew that “great things were going to happen in our lives”? Would we see our lives differently? Would we see ourselves differently?

By the time Ben Carson was in his early 20’s, there was no question in his mind that God had big plans for him and that it was his job to put in the work and prepare himself thoroughly.

How as this made possible? Because of his mother! Ben could never have become the man he became or had the influence in the world he now has without the determination, vision, encouragement and hard work of his mother. 

This family is an incredible model for us to follow through all the 7 Laws of Life Mission — as they devoted their lives to God, cared for themselves, embraced truth and educated themselves out of poverty and into the highest offices in the country!

Listener’s Guide:

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast. 

2:27  Sonya Carson’s early years
9:37  How Sonya handled opposition
14:00  How Sonya became self-reliant
20:02  How Sonya parented her boys and helped them get world-class educations
26:25  Carsons and the 7 Laws 
29:18  Ben’s spiritually transforming experiences  

Quotes from this episode (all quotes from Ben Carson):

“Part of mother’s strength came from a deep-seated faith in God and perhaps just as much from her innate ability to inspire Curtis and me to know she meant every word she said.”

“Mother never let on how it hurt her, but her treatment in a mental hospital provided neighbors with a hot topic of gossip, perhaps even more because she had gone through a divorce. Both problems created serious stigmas at the time. Mother not only had to cope with providing a home and making a living to support us, but most of her friends disappeared when she needed them most…’I just decided that I had to go about my own business,’ Mother once told me, ‘and ignore what people said.’ She did, but it couldn’t have been easy.”

“Of course, mother worked. Constantly. She seldom had much free time, but she showered that time on Curtis and me, which made up for the hours she was away…No matter how tired she was, if we were still up when she got home, mother didn’t fail to ask about school.”

“‘That’s what I want to do,’ I said to my mother as we walked home. ‘I want to be a doctor. Can I be a doctor, mother? ‘Bennie,’ she said, ‘listen to me.’ We stopped walking and mother stared into my eyes. Then laying her hands on my thin shoulders, she said, ‘If you ask the Lord for something and believe He will do it, then it’ll happen.‘I believe I can be a doctor.’ “Then, Bennie, you will be a doctor,’ she said matter-of=factly, and we started to walk on again.”

Mother had a goal in mind…she planned to go back and reclaim the house we’d lived in…’Boys,’ she told us as the weeks and months passed, ‘just wait. We’re going back to outhouse on Deacon Street. We may not be able to afford living in it now, but we’ll make it. In the meantime, we can still use the rent we get from it.’ Not a day passed that mother didn’t talk about going home. Determination burned in her eyes, and I never doubted that we would.

“My mother worked two and three jobs at a time…She was especially interested in the people, because most of the time she worked for the wealthy. She’d come home and tell us, ‘This is what wealthy people do. This is how successful people behave. Here’s how they think.’ She constantly drilled this kind of information into my brother and me. ‘Now you boys can do it too,’ she’d say with a smile adding, and you can do it better!’”

“’I’ve decided you boys are watching too much television,’ she said one evening, snapping off the set in the middle of a program…From now on, you boys can watch no more than three programs a week…You boys are going to go to the library and check out books. You’re going to read at least two books every week. At the end of each week you’ll give me a report on what you’ve read…it didn’t occur to either of us to disobey. The reason? We respected her. We knew she meant business and knew we’d better mind. But, most important, we loved her.’”

“After I started pulling ahead in school, the desire to be smart grew stronger and strong…I wanted to be the very best I could be—for me.

Even though mother could barely read, once she decided to learn, through hours of practice she taught herself to read well. Mother started to read the Bible, often sounding out the words, sometimes still not understanding; but she persisted. That was her determination at work. Eventually she was able to read relatively sophisticated material.

“I could not handle my temper alone. ‘Lord,’ I whispered, ‘You have to take this temper from me. If You don’t, I’ll never be free from it. I’ll end up doing things a lot worse than trying to stab one of my best friends…Tears streamed between my fingers. ‘Lord, despite what all the experts tell me, You can change me. You can free me forever from this destructive personality trait…During those hours alone in the bathroom, something happened to me. God heard my deep cries of anguish. A feeling of lightness flowed over me, and I knew a change of heart had taken place. I felt different. I was different. ..I walked out of the bathroom a changed man. ‘My temper will never control me again,’ I told myself. ‘Never again. I’m free.’”

Finally I turned to God. ‘I need help…God, I’m sorry. Please forgive me for failing You and for failing myself.’ Then I slept…When I awakened, I recalled most of the problems, and I hurriedly wrote them down before they faded from memory…I opened the booklet and read the first problem…Hurriedly I skimmed through the booklet, laughing silently, confirming what I suddenly knew. The exam problems were identical to those written by the shadowy dream figure in my sleep. ‘God, You pulled off a miracle,’ I told Him as I left the classroom. ‘And I make a promise to You that I’ll never put You into that situation again.’”

“After this experience, I had no doubt that I would be a physician. I also had the sense that God not only wanted me to be a physician, but that He had special things for me to do. I’m not sure people always understand when I say that, but I had an inner certainty that I was on the right path in my life—the path God had chosen for me. Great things were going to happen in my life, and I had to do my part by preparing myself and being ready.

I believe that God has an overall plan for people’s lives and the details get worked out along the way, even though we usually have no idea what’s going on.”

“Somewhere during that period of time I became acutely aware of an unusual ability—a divine gift, I believe—of extraordinary eye and hand coordination. It’s my belief that God gives us all gifts, special abilities that we have the privilege of developing to help us serve Him and humanity.

Book from this episode: