The Case for an Impacted Pastor: Why You Want Church Leaders with Disabilities
So, you don’t know me, but I’m a pastor. God called me to ministry about five years ago. Like most of us, I never would’ve seen it coming. There are a dozen reasons why nobody would want to use me and those are all the reasons why God chose me.
You see, I am greatly gifted in mercy and helps, and I am acceptably able to effectively use the gifts of prophecy (simply speaking a word of the Lord), and pastoring (caring for the flock). But I have a lot of weaknesses too. I know – real shocker. Some of them are just because nobody holds all the gifts. Many of them are because of my disabilities.
I have PTSD, anxiety, and depression. This makes me both incredibly intuitive and invested in other people’s feelings andsomewhat unreliable because Heaven only knows if I can handle another thing on a given day. I have a learning disability. I read about the seventh- or eighth-grade level. Even better, I have issues processing words from the page to my brain, so I basically depend on audio translations of almost every book I read to understand it. On top of all this, I have an autoimmune disease that causes significant brain fog and pain. This impacts my memory greatly, and sometimes makes me appear as though I’m careless. In reality, I am killing myself all day long so I can be an effective helper. Two years ago I had a significant concussion and ever since it my brain has not been the same. On top of all this I’m genuinely socially awkward – a side effect of significant trauma.
I can hear you right now, “Sign us up! Where does our church get one of her?” Flaky, easily distracted, and socially awkward. Win! (I am also adept in the gift of sarcasm.) But in reality, you want someone like me on your staff. Someone overtly flawed. Someone impacted by disabilities. Someone who is broken. Someone who is a mess, but a mess for Jesus. Below are several reasons why you want someone like me on your staff, board, ect. Our lead pastor could attest to all these things as well. So here we go!
You want somebody on your staff, or at least in your leadership,to contend with a significant illness or disability. It will give you a different perspective. It will confirm to your church that God has a plan and a purpose for all. It will grow your faith. Your walk will be enriched by seeing another choosing each day whom they will serve, no matter how heavy the cross that they bear.
One final point: The disabled and the hurting have spent their entire lives being told their voice doesn’t matter. In the church, it must matter. The body is incomplete without our brothers and sisters with disabilities and chronic illnesses. As such, when you bring these people to leadership, please be aware they may not recognize the value of their voice. They may need you to affirm it. But when you do, you are celebrating the voices to whichJesus paid special attention when He walked the earth. You will learn, grow, and be forever changed, simply because you chose to listen and empower a brother or sister to operate in their calling.