What do you think of Facebook’s “On This Day” feature? Aside from the insanely adorable pictures of my children years ago, I always find this daily remembering to be an interesting exercise in what was going on at this time each year. Every March is marked in our family by Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month. Since I have a child with a severe bleeding disorder this is significant for us and a chance to educate others.
What pops up “On This Day” each March is a comment that I made in amazement years ago when I came to learn that Roger Ailes, formerly of Fox News fame, also has the same bleeding disorder as my son. It puts me in fits because here is this successful, well-known individual who could build infinite amounts of awareness and motivate others to support those with similar diagnoses. This is a life-threatening, expensive genetic disorder to treat. Yet, here is someone famous who does nothing within public view to advance the cause.
THE COVERT CHRISTIAN
Sadly, there are many in the church who look frightfully similar to a guy like Mr. Ailes.
Hear me when I say that I understand fully that individuals like that may be making huge financial contributions privately. Those donations are wonderful acts of benevolence that are between the benefactor, the charity, and God. The Lord wants us to keep that private rather than becoming puffed-up.
However, it is a completely different situation when it comes to our spiritual acts of service. There are pastors, contemporary Christian musical artists, and writers who parent children with special needs or have a disabled sibling but barely say a peep. They do nothing to call others into service in the special needs community. You never see them rolling up their sleeves to serve with this population. They don’t encourage fellow believers to become more inclusive in the church. While they could spotlight organizations like Key Ministry, where a charitable donation would go miles in opening the church doors to hurting families who need the hope of Jesus, they remain silent.
Instead, a smile is painted on their faces as they treat their child’s diagnosis as a side-note in their lives. And because everything is perfect in their lives, there’s no real motivation for them to step into anyone else’s mess. They don’t want to be known for their child’s disability or special needs. Notoriety for eloquent writing, inspiring music, powerful leadership ideas, or theological finesse is their goal.
WHY IT’S KEPT LOW KEY
Not every person is called for disability ministry or special needs inclusion to be the centerpiece of their personal mission. However, every person is called to do something when it is within their scope of ability and experience to help.
God makes it clear to us in His Word:
Do not withhold good from those who need it,
when you have the ability to help.
(Proverbs 3:27, NET)
Since the mandate is clear, WHY do certain individuals of prominence do nothing? It likely comes down to these two basic human stumbling blocks: fear and pride. Those who feel that special needs are not the focus of their calling are fearful that speaking up just a little will result in a tide of people trying to make that their main focus. Nothing could be further from the truth. These fears need to be exchanged for personal boundaries. There is also fear of dealing with people who are outside of the scope of their experience and knowledge. A teachable spirit changes that. Mercy just seems to flow naturally when we admit to others that we’re learning right along with them. Fears over demands on our time and personnel also threaten these people into silence. If only these individuals realized that they’re probably spending more time putting people off than if they just softened to the special needs community in the first place.
Pride is a perennial difficulty for every human alive. While people of prominence love those with special needs in their own families, they may feel the greater disability community is beneath them. There are more who need them in the typical population, they rationalize. Sadly, Christianity these days seems to have as many “cool kids” and “stars” as the secular world. Humility in service is a scarcity.
RETHINKING OUR SCOPE
While using musical gifts, or theological wisdom, or other skills are wonderful in the context of our faith, they make us look fraudulent if we don’t help others walking the same path. Inclusion and humble service to those with special needs should be the love for which we are known if we are a Christian living with it under our own roof.