I tell people now, and I will til I’m dead, I am just a dumb, obedient servant of God. When the Lord tapped on my shoulder and called me to serve parents raising children with special needs a decade ago, I felt like more of a follower than a leader. But, I will maintain, I think He chose me so that He wouldn’t have a leader that would get in the way. In other words, I am a leader that is perpetually aware that I cannot direct, guide, develop, envision and inspire of my own ability, but only by God’s.
The past 10 years clinging to Christ, I have found my way as a leader by being a learner. There are 2 main ways this has been effective for me:
- The Listening Leader — My hope is that I always come across to others as a leader who listens. Since I know I have much to learn, I always want to hear and weigh the viewpoints of other people. That means that I listen to those who are on my teams doing the work, esteemed colleagues, and supportive outsiders who have something to contribute to our ministry. Because I am ready to hear what others have to share, I have quickly picked up critical information on how to locate grants, ascertained who the best local vendors are for events, discovered how to fashion and execute a vision, identified where our teams need shoring up, and determined what we are doing that is most impactful with the parents we serve. The high yield of listening in leadership cannot be overstated.
- The Discovering Leader — Like a ravenous child, I have devoured a wide variety of information on leadership over the years. Reading books and attending conferences are part of my repertoire. But daily beefing up of skills has been crucial to me as well, using videos, articles, and blogs to grow my skills. Eventually, I have discovered which resources I find most helpful, and have left by the wayside those that aren’t worth my time. Of note is the fact that while there are copious amounts of wonderful resources available on Christian leadership, there is little information by Christian thought leaders on special needs ministry leadership.
I am grateful that when God calls, He equips. Not having the organizational, planning, technical, seminary, medical, or management skills of many other special needs ministry leaders, my experience has proven to demonstrate that the Lord can still do the extraordinary with ordinary hearts who are willing.