My health is far from what I would wish. Climbing steps has become an exercise in futility. Standing for extended periods is out of the question. Sitting without my legs elevated for more than a half hour brings incredible pain. The pain doesn’t make me the most likeable person in the world. Thus, I have stepped down from full-time paid ministry.
The move has been painful but necessary. My doctors believe that I don’t ever need to work full-time again, and I’m applying for disability (my brother-in-law has kindly established a GoFundMe campaign to help bridge the financial gap between now and when I get disability). But, simply because I can no longer work with a congregation of God’s people on a full-time, paid basis does not mean I cannot serve. In fact, I’ve preached for years that we all have talents from God (Matt 25:14-30) and that we should all serve whether we’re full-time preachers or not. Now, I have a unique opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I get to serve in ways I’ve always preached for people to serve.
How can I serve in my disability? How can we all serve God regardless of what’s taking place in our lives? Here are some ideas:
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (Js 5:16)
No need for special physical ability to take a person’s name to the Father in prayer.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (Js 1:27)
The Greek term “visit” means far more than simply stopping by: it means to care for. But, I’ve always used stopping by as an opportunity to see what needs the sick or the shut-in or the alien sinner or the unfaithful Christian had. I always ended my visit with, “What can I do for you?” or a similar question. Some homes I can no longer enter because of steps, but I can pick up the phone or send a text or send a Facebook message or send a card. I can still see what needs people have. I can still seek to help with those needs.
Preach And Teach
Paul charged Timothy “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 4:1-2)
Yes, standing is difficult, but I can alternate between standing and sitting while I preach and teach. I can write books and blog posts. I can have a Facebook page and a Twitter account where I seek to share the Word.
Transport People To Worship
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev 4:11)
God deserves worship and fearing God (i.e., honoring Him) is a purpose for which man was created (Eccl 12:13), and, as demonstrated throughout the Revelation, worship will be a glorious act in the heavenly city. Therefore, why would I not seek to bring people with me to worship?
Set An Example
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (1 Pet 3:1-2).
Peter’s words are my favorite when it comes to living a Christian life as an example to others. Wives, through their faithful conduct can win their husbands to the Word of God without ever speaking a word. Francis of Assisi supposedly said something like, “Preach the gospel always and if necessary, use words.” That’s exactly what Peter says in holy writ. I can be a witness to the truthfulness of the gospel everywhere I go regardless of how poorly I walk.
Lead My Family
“The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior” (Eph 5:23). “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4)
Male spiritual leadership may not be a popular notion in the modern world, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s Scripture – I don’t care what scenario you bring forth on any subject whatsoever, it never can change what Scripture says, period. But, male spiritual leadership is intended for the good of the family: a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25-29) and a father is to teach his children to know the Lord (Eph 6:4). The husband/father, in my view, has a far taller task than the wive/children: He is to love sacrificially and lead his family to the Lord. I can do that in spite of my disability.
Seek The Unity Of The Church
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:20-21).
I can pray, as did Jesus, for the unity of the church. I keep from insisting on my own way. I can submit to the church leadership. I can seek peace with my brethren.
Forgive My Brethren
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt 6:12)
Brethren are going to wrong us, whether we have a disability or not. Honestly, some of my Christian family have said some very unkind things about my disability. My duty is to forgive. Jesus expects that, and I can obedient to Jesus and forgive regardless of my physical limitations.
Use My Tongue Wisely
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29).
My tongue works just fine, and I can build up rather than destroy with my tongue. My legs don’t need to work for that.
Put Others Before Myself
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).
Life is not all about me. I can seek to put others before me and seek to serve them instead of serving myself. Putting others before myself is something I can do regardless of my physical limitations.
I’ve listed ten ways the disabled can serve in the church of our Lord, but I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways everyone can serve the Lord. The night before He went to the cross, Jesus got up from supper, girded Himself with a towel, and stooped to wash the feet of His disciples. Wow! The Creator becomes a servant. If Jesus, knowing one of the disciples would betray Him and that He would shortly bear my sins on the cross, could serve, surely I can serve Him and His people regardless of health limitations. Will you serve Jesus this very day as you seek to walk with Him?