Last week I had the opportunity to attend the first day of the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit on simulcast at a local venue. This is a great annual, two-day conference packed with speakers and their resources from both the Christian and secular worlds. Having attended more than once, I highly recommend that every leader take the time to carve out those 48 hours to focus on nothing else but leading your organization, group or small gathering.
This years excellence was no exception. As always, I sat in one of these seminars pondering what key points I want to focus on once I go back to the office. But I wanted to share with you now one point in particular that I had on my short list for consideration.
Appearing in the session immediately following Bill Hybels himself was the President of Babson College and Harvard Professor, Len Schlesinger. His most recent release and the title he spoke on is ACTION TRUMPS EVERYTHING. While Schlesinger had many interesting insights and recommendations, he made particularly insightful remarks on the topic of getting people to move into an area that is uncertain and uncomfortable. His contention was that before a leader can get those they lead to move, the unacceptable must be identified and smashed. This helps people to make the move to a better reality.
What profound impact such a notion can provide in the area of disability ministry! Ponder this with me for a moment. I find it completely unacceptable that a family with a child who has special needs should ever be asked to leave a place where they have come to worship. It’s also incredibly unacceptable that our churches aren’t even at a point where they’re equal with the secular world in making adaptations for those with unique challenges. I can’t fathom how a group of people who call themselves Christians would ever address a family where a member has a disability with condemnation in regards to the diagnosis. Absolutely unacceptable! And it’s nothing less than unacceptable that the Body of Christ would fail to reach out and meet the needs of these struggling children of God. I could go on for quite a while on all the things I find unacceptable when it comes to those with special needs.
What I challenge you to do as one who operates in this arena and cares about this population, is to identify what you find unacceptable. Once you formulate that list, prioritize it. And then create a new reality by smashing the unacceptable along with others who share your view. With the passion such a thought process ignites, others will naturally be stirred to move along with you to areas where even the least of God’s children are accepted and loved.