This is the fifteenth post in our Fall Series: ADHD and Spiritual Development: Strategies for Parents and Church Leaders
Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”?
Is it possible that in God’s Kingdom, a condition that causes as much difficulty in day to day functioning as ADHD might actually provide one of His followers with an advantage? Let’s look at how having ADHD might be of benefit to a Christian.
A Christian with ADHD may be more willing to take chances for God. It’s possible that God speaks to many of His followers in a still, small voice. A person with ADHD may be more likely to act on the direction of that voice without first pondering all the reasons why doing so might not be a good idea.
A Christian with ADHD may be very energized by topics or ministry activities that capture their imagination. Many people with ADHD experience the capacity to “hyperfocus” when engaged in an activity they find to be especially interesting. If a kid or an adult with ADHD becomes passionate about a ministry pursuit or activity, they may become extraordinarily productive.
A Christian with ADHD may be very effective in ministry teams when others have complimentary gifts or talents. Because people with ADHD are often capable of entertaining multiple thoughts at once and adept at spotting trends in the culture, many are capable of visionary leadership. Teams can be very successful when such people are paired with good managers. A team with too many folks with ADHD might have great ideas but find itself unable to implement or maintain new initiatives.
A Christian with ADHD may be less inhibited about sharing the Gospel with others. The prospect of sharing one’s faith with other people can be very intimidating, especially in a culture that imposes great pressure not to do so. Here’s one area where a lack of capacity for self-regulation may have some Kingdom benefits.
A Christian with ADHD may be very good at scanning the environment for trends and ideas. I suspect that many Christians active in the blogosphere have some ADHD traits. The capacity to be spot new and interesting ideas is very beneficial for visionary leaders. Why would we be surprised if it turned out that a high percentage of key opinion leaders in the church turned out to have ADHD?
Is ADHD overrepresented among senior pastors? Anecdotally (I’m not mentioning any names), it seems like a higher than expected number of senior pastors I encounter in the work we do with churches through Key Ministry meet more than a few of the symptom criteria for ADHD. For some of the reasons described above, people with ADHD called into ministry may gravitate toward that role. The capacity to chart a ‘big picture” course for the church and the ability to take the risks involved with teaching on a stage or in a pulpit in front of a large audience each week may be adaptive for the person serving as senior pastor.
Throughout the Bible, time and again God made use of His followers who were willing. I could come up with numerous examples of people from the Bible who may have had ADHD, but one in particular comes to mind. Let’s look at who Jesus chose to lead the church:
Impulsiveness: Whacking off the ear of the High Priest’s servant (Malchus) with a sword while surrounded by several hundred enemy soldiers probably wasn’t the best idea in the history of Earth (John 18:10).
Speaking without thinking: Do the words “Get behind me, Satan” ring a bell? (Matthew 16:22-24)
Distractibility: The Son of God was walking across the water toward him on the Sea of Galilee, and this disciple became distracted by the waves. (Matthew 14:22-33)
Difficulty following through on commitments: The encounter with the servant girl in the High Priest’s courtyard didn’t go all that well, either. (Mark 14:66-72)
Despite all of his weaknesses and all of his failures, who did Jesus ultimately select to be the “Rock”, upon whom He built His church? Peter. Shortly after Jesus’ death, Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, was able to boldly preach the Gospel on the original day of Pentecost, and some pretty amazing stuff has been happening ever since.
Coming Sunday: “My ADHD Sundays.” One parent’s story of trying to “do church” together when a daughter has ADHD