Yesterday, I wrote about what congregations can do to help disabled persons. I appreciate the kind feedback you gave. If I were to give any advice to churches on how to help disabled persons, I’d give a simple answer: “Serve.” That’s it. Serve. Serve like Jesus. Serve with a humble heart. Serve without seeking anything in return.
Yet, for the Christian service is always a two-way street. Jesus came to serve us and we, in turn, serve Him. Members of the body of Christ will need to serve us from time to time, but we also must be servants. After all, if we wish to be first, we must be slaves (Matt 20:27). I have known many disabled people who have faithfully served in the cause of Christ, and this week I wrote about ten ways disabled persons can serve in the church.
Unfortunately, I have known disabled people who have sat around and waited for the church to serve them. The shut-in who called every year around Christmas to tell the secretary what she wanted in her gift basket. The gentleman who was never able to get out for worship unless he needed something. The lady who told way too much information when you asked how she was doing (I knew in detail about every appointment with the gynecologist – there are some things even the preacher doesn’t really need to know).
We live in an era of entitlement. Many people have come to believe that the church and the government and individuals owe them and that they are entitled to whatever they want. The entitlement philosophy so many have embraced flies contrary to the Word of God. We are to help others bear burdens (i.e., serve them) (Gal 6:2), but “each [one of us] will have to bear his own load” (Gal 6:5). The Greek terms at verse 2 (“burden”) and verse 5 (“load”) are different, and the idea seems to be abundantly clear – If you can do something for yourself, you do it for yourself. About widows serving other widows, Paul writes, “If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows” (1 Tim 5:16). The message? Do what you can and not burden the church.
How can those of us with disabilities keep from burdening the church?
- Smile more, complain less.Remember how good God is. Rejoice in His blessings.
- Show gratitude.When people serve and help, show gratitude.
- Remember it’s not all about you.When the secretary forgets to put your name in the bulletin, remember she’s trying hard. When someone forgets to ask about your latest test, remember there are many other names on the prayer list and he’s praying for more people than just you.
- Accept help when you need it.I tend to be a tad stubborn and try to do everything on my own. If I don’t allow others to serve me, however, I’m depriving them of the opportunity to follow Jesus’ example and serve.
- Speak up when you need help.Your brothers and sisters may not readily recognize that you’re having difficulty. They may not be offering to help because they do not realize you need help. Instead of feeling slighted, ask for help.
- Serve others.Never forget that you can serve in some way regardless of your disability. Never forget that God has called you to serve.
Let us never seek to be served instead of serving. Let us, like our Lord Jesus, seek to serve. Let us do for ourselves what we can, let us do for others what we can, and let us walk with Jesus every step of the way.