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.
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?
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.
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:
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. They 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
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
3 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
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
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.
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.
One of the gifts God has given to both Jerry and Joan Borton is the ability to enjoy public speaking. Likely, many of you reading this are one of the Americans who identify speaking publicly as one of their greatest fears; but not the Bortons.
Perhaps you saw photos of events where they have spoken or read about speaking proposals they are submitting and wonder what in the world they speak about. Here are some of their favorite topics, briefly explained.
Disability Culture and the Church – The Church and the Disability Rights Movement have an uneasy relationship. Before a local church even begins to embrace disability, they may face distrust or apathy. This session shares a user-friendly history of the disability rights movement and looks at ways the Church has responded over the years.
Introduction to Disability Ministry in the Church – It is wonderful when a local church wants to welcome and reach out to individuals and families affected by disability. Heart attitude is certainly the place to start. This session will help you avoid some common mistakes and look at two Bible stories of Jesus interactions with people with disabilities.
Anger, Disability and the Hope of the Gospel – Not every person affected by disability is angry, but many are. In this session Jerry helps people to understand the root of that anger, ways to use that anger for good and ultimately how the truth of the Gospel achieves what anger never could.
A Realistic View of the Value and Giftedness of People with Disabilities – The word “realistic” is thrown around way too early and often when discussing the future of a person with a disability. This session shares some of Jerry’s story, and that of others affected by disability who have found their giftedness and calling by refusing to accept what was allegedly realistic. It brings us to the bottom line of Whose Am I? and Who Am I?
Leadership Lessons Learned through Disability – Having lived as a person with a disability for sixty years who founded three non-profits and served in leadership positions in national and international organizations Jerry has learned a thing or two about Leadership. In this session he shares lessons applicable to anyone who wants to be a leader, or already is (whether they have a disability or not).
The Third Wheel in Marriage – Jerry and Joan are in their 25th year of marriage. They have found that though the general foundations of marriage are unchanging, there are many nuances that disability brings to a marriage, acting as third wheel. This workshop discusses those differences and provides practical help for both the couple, as well as tips on how a local church or community can help support a marriage in which one spouse has a disability.
You Know You’re a Caregiver When . . . – Not only has Joan been a caregiver in marriage, but she has forty years experience working with and encouraging caregivers. This talk will share humorous and poignant examples and lessons gleaned from caregivers over the years.
Caregiving When you Just Don’t Care – As much as any family caregiver loves the person, they have the privilege of caring for, some days that privilege feels like a huge burden. The last thing the caregiver wants to do is extend care. They are burned out, depressed and just plain tired. Joan helps caregivers identify these feelings and find the courage to start again. Friends and Church communities also benefit from this session by learning more about the life of a caregiver and are encouraged with ways to walk the journey with a family caregiver.
Life Hacks for Living with Disability – In this session Jerry seeks to encourage young people living with disability to those newly diagnosed. He offers “ticks of the trade” that allow one to be more fully engaged with their community.
Two Things My Wheelchair Can’t Do (designed for K – elementary age) – Jerry loves speaking with children. They are intrigued by the lights and features of his wheelchair and tools that aid his daily living. As the children ask questions and try some of these aids Jerry shares the two most important things his wheelchair cannot do: 1) be his friend and 2) tell him about Jesus. He asks the audience if they will do those things for people with disability they may meet.
Jerry and Joan have experience speaking to groups of 2 to groups of several hundred. Their audiences have included business leaders, faith-based groups, families affected by disability, a police department, elementary schools, colleges, and conferences. They can adapt their style to reach those from Kindergarten age through senior adults.
Links to previous speaking engagements are available upon request.
Luke 14 Exchange also develops speaking topics as requested or needed by a group. Please let us know if there is something you’d like to hear more about.
In this post I’d like to share with you some of my foundational thoughts on leadership. John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. I believe he is correct. Leadership is not about a title or position. Some leaders do have titles and positions, but leadership is about relationships. If you influence others (spoiler alert: you do) you are a leader. Not sure about that?? Are you part of a group, team, committee, church, family, or neighborhood? If so, you are a leader. People are watching.
So how do we develop this thing called leadership? Where do we start? We could start with our mission, vision, and core values. They are important. But there is a foundation deeper than those. As one who holds a Christian worldview, I believe we start with knowing Whose we are. Ken Blanchard espouses this in his book Lead like Jesus. We are not our own. God created us. We have been bought with a price. See I Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23. This is truly good news because God is wildly in love with us!
All of Psalm 139 (link) talks about God constantly thinking about you – and me! Verses 14-15 tell us He knit us together in our mother’s womb. I don’t know much about knitting, but here’s what I do know. I know I shouldn’t be doing it. Giving two large needles to a guy with cerebral palsy is a bad idea. I’d probably poke my eye out; or somebody else’s.
The phrase knit us together talks about intentionality and individual design. My friends who knit enjoy it (most of the time) and often use a pattern. When we see the phrase “knit together” it means God carefully, meticulously, purposefully put us together.
It also means he enjoyed doing it. But God didn’t just enjoy the process. He enjoyed the product. You. Me.
Written by Jerry Borton
Joan and I are at the Spire Conference in Orlando. We attended a session with Brad Lomenick, a speaker, author and leadership advisor. The topic was how leadership is changing with each generation.
Two things Brad said resonated with me. One is the need for authenticity. This means that we share who we are, both the good and the difficult.
The other statement is those Generation Z (the generation just coming into their working years) are failure averse.
The good news for those of us in disability ministry is that we have a unique opportunity to help the church work through these challenges. As people with disabilities, we understand failure, and don’t have the opportunity to avoid it. Our bodies fail every day. When one becomes involved with a person with a disabilty, one begins to understand how to overcome barriers and how to rebound from things that don’t work (failure) . One learns that failure leads to suffering, and suffering leads to spiritual growth.
CS Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
A note to my fellow leaders: You can see my wheelchair. Those who follow you need to see yours.
All of us have things in our lives that we would prefer to keep hidden, things we prefer not be noticed, things we would trade away if we could. There are days I would trade my wheelchair, or my disability. I can’t. When I say people need to see your wheelchair there are people in your sphere of influence who need to see a glimpse of those areas you wish you could hide or get rid of but can’t. People need to see that and identify. Our disabilites are the platform that God wants to use to flow His grace in to your life and the lives of others.
In this post, and the first Wednesday of every month following, you will hear from Jerry Borton, one of our co-founders.
Thank you for joining me here on the Luke 14 Exchange blog. Developing leaders among people affected by disability has long been a passion of mine. In fact, when I was in graduate school, I wrote my final project on this topic. I was born with cerebral palsy (CP) and I use a power wheelchair. God though chose to gift this disabled body with the mind, heart and passion of a leader. It has been an interesting ride to learn how to work those parts of my life together so far, and it’s not over yet. It is my privilege to be able to share some of my story with you today.
I was born in northwest Ohio as the second of three children. My parents were never able to give me a clear understanding of when they learned about my disability. From a very early age though, it was apparent I had a disability. I think I was under two years of age when doctors started telling my parents I had CP. My grandfather and my father both assumed my disability was punishment from God because of their drinking. My father later came to understand that that was not true.
Growing up, I felt like I could never measure up, I wasn’t good enough. I had all the excuses down. When I was asked to do something, I usually replied with, “I can’t”, followed by whatever reason I thought would work – for example I am too slow, I am too young, I am too fat, and the one that always worked – I can’t do that, I’m in a wheelchair.
Until one day as a high school student someone in our church invited me to attend youth group. I wasn’t sure why they wanted me – an awkward, fat, slow and introverted kid in a wheelchair in their youth group. I even wondered if they would get some kind of prize or bonus for getting me to come.
Eventually I went to a pizza party (no surprise there) and started going to youth group regularly. It was through the teaching in that youth group that I learned about the idea of having personal devotions – time spent alone with God each day, reading His word and praying. One day in my devotions I read Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I thought for sure the Bible had a misprint- that it couldn’t be true. So I looked that same verse up in all the other Bibles we had in the house and found it said the same thing – I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
If this was true, and I knew it was, then I was going to have to change the way I looked at and thought about myself. If the same Holy Spirit who lived within Paul also lives in me, I truly can do all things through Christ. Not necessarily everything I want to do; but everything Jesus wants me to do. It is through his strength not mine – at least when I get out of the way and let him.
The same Holy Spirit who continues to work in my heart is also alive in you if you have surrendered your life to Christ. If you haven’t done that yet he is waiting and willing.
This post is adapted from an article the Bortons published in the Ministry Essentials Bible 2014 by Hendrickson Pulishers Marketing, LLC Peabody, MA
Embracing the sanctity of human life is more than being against abortion — it is being “for the life of my neighbor” in all phases of life. People with disabilities certainly need protection in the womb and protection from euthanasia. But they may also need respectful support and practical services throughout life in order to participate fully in community. It is simply not enough to establish the right for someone to be born, even someone with a disability, and to prevent them from losing life unnaturally while failing to love and support them when life gets messy and complicated due to disability.
For too long churches have turned a blind eye to those on the edges of life – those who need assistance with daily care, transportation, and health issues, thinking these needs fall solely under the domain of social services. While no one can meet everyone’s needs all the time, church leaders need to understand that we continually need to bear one another’s burdens, including those with disability and chronic illness, and thus fulfill the love of Christ. Galatians 6:2. Ministry to people with disabilities is a marathon, not a sprint.
Consider these practical suggestions to fill gap between birth and natural death for persons and families affected by disability.
Provide meals on a regular basis – maybe once a week or month, or stock their freezer, or supply a gift card or two. Life with disability is unpredictable. Having a back up plan for an occasional mealtime is a blessing.
Assist with transportation needs – visits to the doctor or physical therapist may require family members to head in several directions at once. An offer to drive may ease the transportation headache. Or going with someone to an appointment as a second set of eyes and ears may provide a measure of confidence.
Dust off the wheelchair or clean the accessible vehicle – these are tasks that may be difficult, if not impossible, for the person with the disability. And they add just one more task to the Caregiver. These simple offers lighten the weighty burdens!
Include non disabled siblings in family outings – sometimes siblings may feel like they don’t matter, or life revolves around the person with a disability. Sharing a trip to the beach, amusement park, or bowling may help them create a happy memory.
These are a few ideas to get your creative think tank going. Truly there are countless ways you can bless and encourage a person/family and apply your your pro-life conviction throughout the expanse of a lifetime.
The ministry we do is the catalyst for even bolder dreams in the days and months ahead. Following the pattern of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. we too have a dream. A dream that people with disabilities will be judged by our character, not by the number of our chromosomes. That we will be judged by our character, not how we walk or don’t walk, or what equipment we use. A dream that people with disabilities will be judged by our character, not our diagnosis, or the accommodations we need. A dream that the body of Christ, and the communities in which they minister, will include all people regardless of skin color, ability or disability, whether we communicate through voice, a computer or sign language, or anything else the enemy uses to divide us.
The fruit of those dreams will be seen when people with disabilities are at the table (Luke 14) and using their gifts.
Bold dreams come to life through hard work, a circle of support and the grace of God. Some of the tools we want to use to fill the table are:
Develop a Compel Community Conference that brings people with and without disabilities to engage together to build community.
Disability ministry within churches are important, but it is time to look beyond Sunday. We want to resource the Church, the people of the Church, to engage in life with people affected by disability throughout the week.
A mentoring program that intentionally asks and answers the questions of Whose we are and Who we are.
Scholarship programs that provide resources to help people affected by disability apply the answers to the questions noted above.
Would you dream with Luke 14 Exchange? We need volunteers, prayer partners and financial partners at all levels. Please use our Contact Form to start a conversation with us.
We’d love to hear your dreams for people affected by disabilities and our communities . . .