How to Discover Your Unique Gifts and Calling

This is the fifth in a series by our co-founder Jerry Borton. To read the previous posts, click the month. February, January, DecemberNovemberOctober.

     What do you want to be when you grow up? This simple question gives permission to ignite a dream.  Could it really be that easy?  Very few of us work today in the career we first dreamed of as a child.   But it’s a good place to begin.  I read a study that children who grow up with disabilities are not asked that question until much later in life than typical kids.  Let’s change that factor and include all kids in setting the stage for the future.

     One of my earliest aspirations was to be a professional baseball player.  I grew up with cerebral palsy and have used a wheelchair for most of my life.  Eventually, I realized a career as a professional baseball player wasn’t going to happen; but I still liked being around the game.  I thought about being a baseball coach or sportswriter.  While I was in high school, I coached Little League baseball and wrote sports for my local newspaper.  In the process, I discovered I liked working with kids. 

I went to college to become a youth pastor.  I soon realized there weren’t a lot of churches ready to hire someone in a wheelchair as a pastor.  So, I started a ministry to help churches reach out to people with disabilities.  This eventually led to what I do now; helping people and families affected by disability to unleash their God-given potential.

And it all started with wanting to become a professional baseball player.  I believe the dream morphed because people did not tell me I couldn’t but let me explore options.

     I am convinced that we are wired to do things that bring us joy and serve others.  The following questions can help you think about what brings you joy and what you can do to meet the needs of others.  You do not need to answer them all at once.  This process works best when given time.

     Is there a career or job that you think you’d enjoy?  Maybe it’s a career that runs in your family, like law enforcement, a schoolteacher, a college professor or a professional athlete.  How about the military?  Whatever it is, name it.  There’s power in identification.  Voicing it makes it real and begins the adventure.

     Some people may use the information they glean from this activity to engage in a volunteer opportunity, while others may seek a paying job, career, or higher education.  For these questions, we use the words job, work, activity, employment, or calling to include all of these options.

     Some of these questions may seem repetitive.  The idea is to look from as many perspectives as possible.  People with disabilities have the same right to risk, fail, or succeed as anyone else. 

  • Describe a time in life when you felt accomplished, successful, or delighted.  What specific activity or experience created that feeling?
  • If you could set up your ideal work, describe what it would be like every day.  Give as much detail as you can.
  • What would an average day be like?
  • When would you get up?
  • Can you do this job or activity from home, or would you need to go to an office or other location?
  • If you have to go to another location how would you get there?  Do you drive?  Can you take a bus?  Would you need a driver?
  • If you got this job, what do you think a typical day would be like?
  • What would your supervisor be like?
  • Who are the people you’d be working with?  What are they doing?
  • Where can you learn more about this job?  Consider books, job fairs, magazine articles, podcasts, TV shows, YouTube videos, and personal contacts.
  • Who do you know who does this job?  Have you spoken to them?  Can you shadow them for a day, an hour?
  • What is it about this job that appeals to you?
  • What parts of this job do you think you could do extremely well?  Why?
  • What skills will you need to do this job?
  • Where could you get these skills?  Technical school, college, apprenticeship, on-the-job training?
  • Have you talked with your family and friends who know you well about this job?  How do they respond?  Do they encourage you or are they apprehensive?  What do they suggest you do next?
  • Who are the people others suggest you talk to?
  • Is there one part of this job or activity that excites you the most?  What other jobs or activities could offer that same joy or satisfaction?
  • What is one step you can take now to move toward this goal?

Another way some people learn more about themselves and their interests is to take a personality profile. We recommend the DISC profile and the CliftonStrengths 34 (formerly StrengthsFinders).  You can take either profile through Luke 14 Exchange, Inc and we can help you process the results.

If you’d like to talk with someone about these questions or profiles, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear about the dreams God is igniting in you.

How to Know Who You Are as a Leader

This is the fourth in a series by our co-founder Jerry Borton. To read the previous posts, click the month. January, DecemberNovemberOctober.

In my November post I made the statement, “Leadership begins with knowing whose we are.” In the following months we looked at Scripture and strategies that can affirm and help us grasp whose we are.  This month I want to tackle the idea of who we are.

For many of us our disability is the first thing that is seen, and it is probably what we think of when asked who we are. But we want the answer to that question to look beyond our disability. Our disability is a factor, but not the sole definition of who we are.

So we need to ask the question, how does disability affect our perception of who we are? Before we answer that question, there is a foundational question we need to answer. Why does God allow disabilities? 

I am about to give you an answer based on sixty years of living with cerebral palsy, over four decades as a Christian,  twenty-some years of education in Christian colleges/universities and forty years of ministry.  I don’t know why we are disabled.  The truth is theologians have been debating this seemingly from the beginning of time. What I do know is this: 1) God is sovereign, and He is wildly in love with us. Remember Psalm 139?  2) He has a purpose in our disability and  wants to redeem it for His glory and our good. 

One of the passages that tells me this, is in the book of John chapter 9.  As Jesus and his disciples were walking along, they came across a man who was born blind.  The disciples asked Jesus, “Why was this man born blind?  Was it because of his sin or his parents’ sin?”  Jesus answered, “This man was born blind to show the ‘power’ of God.”  Some translations say the works of God, the glory of God.  The word used in the original language is the same root word that we use today for “dynamite.”  This man was born blind so that God could blow away the world’s expectations for what God could do in this man’s life. That’s the kind of God I am excited to serve.

Our disability is a part of who we are, but it is not the determiner or the complete picture of who we are. Who we are also includes our life experience, our family, our personality, our temperament, our passions, our talents, our gifts, etc. We talk about all these things individually, but the truth is they are intertwined.

Photo by Stokpic

Sometimes taking a personality profile or questionnaire can be helpful to uncover an understanding of some of these factors. Some of my favorites are, the DISC profile, the Meyers Briggs  and the Clifton Strengths 34. If you have the opportunity to take any of these profiles, I encourage you to do so, Please remember that these are profiles, not tests.

You are already an A+ in God’s eyes. Your results from any profile are a picture of a point in time. They are like a slice of a pie. They do not tell everything about you, or who you will be in the future.  It is best to use the summary as a guide and talk through the results with someone who knows you well. They can help you honestly sort through the things that could be most helpful to you.

I realize not everyone is as geeky as me and enjoys these profiles. Stay tuned! Next month I will share with you a free list of questions I have developed to help one assess how God has wired them.  

I’d love to hear what you discover about yourself in this process. You can share in a comment below, or email Jerry@Luke14Exchange.org

How Has Mentoring Made a Difference in Your Life?

Did you know this week wraps up National Mentoring Month?

Mentoring is close to the heart of Luke 14 Exchange. Simply put, mentoring is advising or training someone. In faith circles it is often called discipleship.

 Sometimes our mentoring involves a formal relationship. In those situations we meet with an individual for several weeks or months, working together on a specific area. Other times mentoring happens more informally. These are times when people observe or watch what someone does and determine how they can interact in a similar manner.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Truth be told, we all are mentors; whether in a positive way or not is another question. And we all have been mentored by others. It happens as parents model life for their children, siblings teach one another how to handle a certain situation. Teachers instill patterns in their students. Friends encourage one another in how to handle life’s challenges. Employers train their personnel in their company’s way to carry out their mission.

Mentoring will continue long after January ends. What is your experience with mentoring? How have you mentored others? Who was one of your mentors? We’d love to hear your stories. We don’t need the specific name of your mentor – but what was their role and influence in your life?

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

As you share your stories and comments with us, would you also consider if there is an opportunity for you to mentor someone affected by disability in your sphere of influence? Let us know if we can give you a hand.

I Want to Hear You, God!

This is the fourth in a series by our co-founder Jerry Borton. To read the previous posts, click the month. December, November, October.

Last month I shared the need to change the messages we allow to play in our minds. Our minds can get so crowded with input, even if we want to listen to “God’s tapes” we may struggle to hear them. So how do we make God’s truth louder?

First, if you haven’t already given your life to Jesus, that is where to begin. If you are unclear what it means to give your life to Jesus, please email me at Jerry@Luke14Exchange.org. I’d love to explain it to you.

Second, spend time daily reading God’s Word. Some days you may read several chapters, other times just a verse or two. You don’t have to turn the pages of a Bible to do that. I use YouVersion, it’s available online or as an app on your smartphone.

Set time aside each day to read the Bible. Find a way to get into God’s Word daily and get God’s Word into you. It may be beneficial to get up a little earlier, or go to bed a little later, or watch a little less TV. If your day is packed, look for space in your daily routine. I listen to the Bible as I get dressed each morning.  Experiment with what works best for you. And, remember there’s grace.

Third, memorize Scripture. Why not start with the passages we talked about last month.  You can write out the verses on index cards and place them where you will see them throughout the day.  You can record the Scripture and play them back on your smartphone.   Remember it is helpful to include the Bible reference (book name, chapter, and verse) when you are memorizing. It is also beneficial to find a partner who wants to memorize Scripture and share accountability.

Fourth, find a Bible-believing church, or a local Bible study to join. If you are new to the faith, ask a few friends where they attend. Ask them about accessible entrances and bathrooms if needed. You can also reach out to us at Luke 14 Exchange for more assistance.

Finally, monitor your self-talk.  For the next week, notice what you say to yourself.  When you catch yourself saying something derogatory, remind yourself of the truths in the verses you are memorizing or recently read.  If you can’t say something nice about yourself- why should others?  More importantly, God created you, adores you and has a good plan for your life. As the saying goes, “God don’t make no junk.” Don’t condemn or speak poorly of the handiwork of God.

“God has never looked into your mirror or mine and wished he saw something else.”  Bob Goff

Gift Ideas for People Affected by Disability

Gift giving can be both fun and challenging. Few of us are in a position to simply throw money away buying “whatever.” We want to know we are getting a gift that our family or friend can use and will appreciate. This can become even more challenging when the giftee has a disability. Depending on the level and type of disability it may take some creative ideas to come up with the ideal gift.

If you do an internet search on gifts for people with disabilities, you may come up with sites like these:

For teens and young adults on the autism spectrum – https://adayinourshoes.com/gifts-for-autistic-teenagers-adults-special-needs/

For the senior adult with memory or physical disabilities (this is primarily clothing) – https://www.silverts.com/gifts-for-elderly-women-and-gifts-for-elderly-men/

For the pinterest shopper – https://www.pinterest.com/crystallynnklin/products-for-adults-with-special-needs/

Luke 14 Exchange, Inc does not support or receive support from any of these sites. Readers should evaluate their appropriateness.

There are many gift ideas that cost very little and are often in short supply among those affected by disability. Consider these ideas:

  • Presence – offer to ride along with a mom on her hours in the car going to therapies, evaluations and appointments. It may be the only time she can get with a friend. Offer to sit with a loved one in the hospital overnight so the mom or dad can get a good night sleep at home.
  • Care – Offer care for the family member with the disability, allowing the rest of the family time together, if appropriate. This may mean you need to spend a few hours of time learning the care routine in advance.
  • Rides – offer to take the person who can transfer in and out of your car, or for whom that is not an issue to a special event, shopping, church, dinner out, etc. Can you give a ride to a family member who needs to get to an athletic or arts event, or even work?
  • Hospitality – so many people affected by disability tell us they have never been invited into someone else’s home. Certainly that can be a challenge if physical accessibility is needed, but it is not a challenge that cannot be overcome. In fact, we once were invited to the home of someone who had 14 steps to their front door. sharing-food-3184177They cleaned out their garage, and carried their dining room furniture to the garage and hosted us for dinner there. Needless to say we felt blessed beyond measure. You don’t have to go to that extreme, but what can you do? Can you purchase a piece of plywood to serve as a temporary ramp for a threshold, if that is the only barrier? Are you willing to let your walls get marked up a bit if someone bumps a corner with their equipment? Touch up paint will do wonders after they have gone. Can you have an outdoor meal? Can you make dinner and take it to eat at their home with them?
  • Experience – is your family planning a beach trip? Can you invite a family with disability to join you (maybe even paying for their gas)? By going with others there are more eyes to watch for the child who may randomly run. Going with others also means that a spouse or parent who could not handle a beach wheelchair alone, may be able to get their loved one out to the beach with the extra muscles and energy. Or maybe buy tickets for a family to attend a ballgame, concert, play or another event they would like but cannot afford.
  • Project help – Jerry often says that to have him for a friend means there will always be a project you can do. Many families affected by disability would agree. There are weeds to pull, lightbulbs to be changed, vehicles to wash, wheelchairs to clean, minor repair projects, touch up painting around the house and so much more. Give a gift of your time and service to help someone out who lacks the time, energy, skills or resources to keep up with these projects.

Ultimately, remember that most of our friends and family members affected by disability are more like us than they are different. If there is something you enjoy, consider how you can share that. Most of all give the gift of friendship. It seems obvious yet is lacking in the lives of many people who live with disability in their own lives or family. You can make a difference.

 

Credit for featured photo at top of post:  Photo by Thais Araujo on Pexels.com

Which Tapes Do You Listen To?

This is the third in a series by our co-founder Jerry Borton. You can find the previous posts by clicking October or November

It has been said that 70% of our self-talk is negative.  Many of us have a set of tapes (or for the younger reader, podcasts) in our head that tell us we’re not good enough, or, nobody would like us if they knew _____. We may also have a doctor or other professionals who labeled us with a diagnosis or multiple diagnoses. Generally, these diagnoses tell us what we can’t do. Constant feedback about what we can’t do leads to more negative self-talk.

The negative tapes don’t just go away when we become a Christian. We must choose where we allow our thoughts to hang out.  We can listen to and believe our self-talk, which tends to be disparaging, or we can believe what God says about us.

  • You have been born again. We will live forever in God’s kingdom. John 3:3, 16

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again…16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

  • God remembers your sin no more. All your sins, past, present, and future are wiped away. Psalm 103:12

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

  • God is equipping me to do His will. He is working in us. Hebrews 13:20-21

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

  • He will strengthen us and provide the resources for anything and everything he has called us to do. Philippians 4:13

13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

  • Christ can do exceedingly more than all you ask or imagine, according to the power that works within us. His dreams are bigger than yours. Ephesians 3:20

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

  • God generously gives wisdom. Ask for it! James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

  • The Lord is your helper, you don’t have to be afraid of others. Hebrews 13:6

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.What can mere mortals do to me?

Next month we will explore how to increase the volume of God’s truth playing in our head. Until then, give yourself a Christmas gift this year – listen to and embrace the word of God.

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Photo by nappy from Pexels

 

All Scripture passages, unless otherwise noted are from the New International Version and accessed on http://www.BibleGateway.com

New International Version (NIV)                                                                                              Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Our Thanksgiving List

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. We at Luke 14 Exchange (L14E) would like to share some of what we are thanking God for with you.

  • Thank you for giving us the privilege of serving through L14E. Thank you for entrusting this part of your Kingdom to us.
  • Thank you for those who have volunteered with us – on our board, in the office, or as needs arise. Mark, Dave, Donna, Holly, Robin, Karen, Barb. And thank you for those who are considering serving alongside us.
  • Thank you for the more than 550 people we’ve had the opportunity to influence in these last 6 months through speaking engagements.
  • Thank you for Sheila*, a lady we asked you to pray for recently, who gave her life to Christ and was baptized. She spurs our faith on as she is so hungry to rightly learn and apply God’s word.
  • Thank you for the Dream Center, through whom we have a new opportunity to partner in ministry outreach.
  • Thank you for Tim, an award-winning film maker with CP (cerebral palsy) who is courageously sharing his gifts.
  • Thank you for the forty-seven people so far this year who are faithfully supporting the ministry through finances and/or prayer.
  • Thank you for the first church who is considering support of L14E in the new year.
  • Thank you for Jayla*, a sister in Christ who has a disability and is raising a son with a disability. She is sharing her life and entrusting her story to us as we share and pray together.
  • Thank you for the other disability ministries in Central Florida who all work together for the Kingdom. Access-Life, Lift Disability Network, BrightThreads, and Special Gathering.
  • Thank you for Bill, who recently mentioned that it was Jerry who planted the seed of disability ministry in him over thirty years ago. We had no idea, but God has sprouted that seed and it is flourishing.
  • Thank you for the opportunities you are lining up for us in 2020.
  • Thank you most of all God that you love all people regardless of abilities or disabilities. You have a good plan for each one that can be trusted. Thank you that you knit each of us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139). Thank you that your son Jesus, did not take disability into account when he gave his life for forgiveness of our sin. Thank you that all are invited to your eternal banquet table.

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Painting by Hyatt Moore; on display at Joni and Friends International Disability Center

*Pseudonmym

Featured photo credit  at top of post –  Photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash