Preachers talk about the sense of having a “burden.” In his book, Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley, describes the “burden” in this way…
“As we continued our conversation, it became apparent that when he talked about a preacher’s burden, he was referring to the one thing. That one message, idea, principle or truth that had to be delivered at all cost. The one thing isn’t just information . It is not just a perfectly crafted phrase. It is literally a burden. It is a burden that weighs so heavily on the heart of the communicator that he or she must deliver it.”
While I’m not a preacher, I’ve been wrestling with a burden for a long time. That burden comes from the knowledge that there’s a population of millions of kids (and their families) impacted by emotional, behavioral and developmental disabilities who won’t come to faith in Jesus, grow in that faith with their brothers and sisters in Christ be used by God as a redemptive force in the world unless and until…
A. The church comes to a recognition that they exist
B. The church recognizes that their disabilities present invisible, but real obstacles to their inclusion in the life of local congregations
C. The church becomes intentional in reaching out to families impacted by these disabilities and seeks to remove or overcome the barriers they face to becoming followers of Jesus, living out their faith
My purpose in this month’s series (and ultimately, everything written on this blog) is to do what I can to help the Church “get it.” If I can help church leaders understand the kids and families I see on a daily basis, they’ll figure out how to share Jesus with them and how to help them grow in faith. The “burden” spurred the establishment of Key Ministry nearly ten years ago. Our original mission statement was:
To build the Body of Christ by empowering churches to minister to families with children of hidden disabilities
While the scope of our ministry has expanded in response to the need expressed by churches for assistance and support in all aspects of disability ministry and many other individuals and organizations have been called to help churches minister to those with special needs, no other organization can remotely approach our capacity to help churches serve families of kids with mental health and developmental disorders. Herein lies the paradox…
I found this devotional from Os Hillman of Marketplace Leaders in my mailbox this morning. Here’s the most relevant excerpt to our discussion:
Your greatest obstacle in fulfilling God’s purposes in your life is the skills you have acquired to perform well in your work life. One of the great paradoxes in Scripture relates to our need to depend on the Lord; yet at the same time, we’re instructed to use the talents and abilities God gives us to accomplish the work He gives us to do. It has been one of the most difficult principles to live out. How do we know that what we achieve is by the power of the Holy Spirit in our life versus our own abilities, and is there a difference? When we reach a level of excellence and performance in our fields, it actually becomes an obstacle to seeing God’s power manifest in our work. What we naturally do well becomes the object of our trust. When this happens, God retreats. You see, God allows us to develop skills, but these must be continually yielded to God’s Spirit. There will be times when God will use these skills to accomplish His purposes. There will be other times that God will not use any of our skills just to ensure that we know it is by His power that we can do anything.
That last sentence pretty much sums things up. I’ve spent a lifetime preparing for the work I’m currently doing, and at one time I was recognized as one of the best teachers and communicators in my field. Yet I’m powerless to effectively communicate the burden I’ve been given because it’s absolutely essential for the world (and the Church) to know if this movement happens and the walls come crashing down that keep families who struggle with mental illness and developmental disabilities from connecting with the church that the work was unmistakably of God’s doing, and not that of a bunch of gifted people. At the same time, I can’t not try to get the word out, because the trying feels like an act of worship.
I’m going to take the weekend off, pray about this stuff and ask God to help me make sense of this paradox. I appreciate your prayer and encouragement in support of the work of our crew at Key Ministry.
Key Ministry’s mission is to help churches reach families affected by disability by providing FREE resources to pastors, volunteers, and individuals who wish to create an inclusive ministry environment. We invite you to partner with us as we advance the Kingdom through our collaboration with the local and global church. We have designed our Key Catalog to create fun opportunities for our ministry supporters to join in our mission. The Key Catalog includes a variety of gift options for every budget. A gift from the Key Catalog also makes for an amazing gift for a friend or loved one who is passionate about seeing the Body of Christ become more inclusive of people with disabilities. Click here to check it out!