Breakthrough: Tammy Barnett

Posted by: DVULI | August 27, 2021

DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative

► Discovering the Symbiotic Relationship of Balance and Accountability     

by Kimbelee Mitchell, Staff Writer

Tammy Barnett (Cincinnati 2012) has lived a unique and—some may say—charmed life. However, being married to a college coach and former professional football player is not without its challenges. For 17 years, Tammy, a mother of two, moved her family to wherever the best opportunities were for her husband Harlon’s career. “Every season, we brace ourselves for what’s next,” shares Tammy. In the early years, she plugged into a church at each new location where she served in youth ministry. Managing ministry life with the “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” mentality, Tammy worked hard to balance her personal life and professional life. When she started the DVULI program, Tammy was part of a flourishing youth ministry and CEO of a nonprofit organization (S.O.A.R. Development Corp); however, she was consumed with balancing youth ministry and her personal life. “At the rate I was going, something was going to give, and it would have been my ministry life and serving in the kingdom,” admits Tammy.

DVULI helped her recognize the vast difference between managing and balancing. Tammy recalls, “The most consistent and noticeable lesson I learned from the program was how to operate in ministry without sacrificing my personal life.” For Tammy, the integral key to striking the core value of balance was an ongoing process, achieved only through consistent and strategic accountability. 

“DVULI was instrumental in helping me recognize that it’s okay to admit and acknowledge the areas in my life where accountability was necessary,” reflects Tammy, admitting that as a counselor, accountability is hard to find, especially as a woman. “I now have accountability partners in my life. Not just one but several in a variety of areas: professional, personal, and spiritual. When I feel depleted or not in tune in one of these areas, I seek those individuals, and they help me realign.” 

Tammy has a standing 45-minute coffee meeting with one of her accountability partners every week. The meeting starts with check-in updates and soundboarding. The structure has “evolved a bit through the years” but consistently includes “complete objectivity” and no-holds-barred transparency. Tammy chose this particular accountability partner because she’s a “phenomenal woman of prayer and faith, who succeeds in having a professional career while being a wife, mom, and grandma.”  Tammy explained, “I knew I needed someone who was the very example of who I wanted to be. She and her husband also co-pastor a church in the community.”

This like-minded accountability relationship and others modeled after it helped lead Tammy to her breakthrough, which was to complete her PhD in Christian Counseling in 2016. “DVULI gave me just the right amount of motivation and resources to continue and complete the work,” shares Tammy.     

Today, Tammy is blessed with a 30-year marriage, two adult children, a “bonus” son-in-law, a granddaughter, a doctorate, a thriving women’s ministry, and, more recently, a book publishing deal. Looking back, she claims, “DVULI added years to my ministry life. I was able to dig deep, learn the core values, and apply the core values to both my work and personal life. A large portion of that work can be extremely uncomfortable, but the return on your investment pays off over a lifetime.”