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
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.
Jerry and Joan Borton, the co-founders of Luke 14 Exchange, Inc were not looking to start a new ministry in the latter stages of their career life. They enjoyed the many years of working with people with all types of disabilities in churches, camps, residential settings and other community activities.
But there was always that one nagging area in which they rarely saw anyone ministering . . . people with physical disabilities.
In some ways it seemed like a “no brainer.” As long as someone with a physical disability has the equipment they need, and access to life in the community that was all that was needed.
Oh that that were true!
Besides the fact that proper access and equipment are not afforded to everyone who has that need, there is a bigger issue. That is engagement in the community. And in particular the Christian community.
To test that idea, think for a minute about when you last saw someone with a physical disability serving as a pastor, elder, deacon, usher, missions committee member etc, at church. Certainly there are some – Joni Eareckson Tada, Jerry Borton, Doug Goddard, Mike King, Scott Mitchell. But stories of people with disabilities in ministry leadership seem few and far between. And where are the new leaders with disability who will follow their wheel prints?
In the weeks to come we’ll share details from some studies we have done, and also some of the tools we will use to help people affected by disability discover WHOSE they are, and WHO they are. Once confident in those truths we can uncover our gifts, and together find ways to use them in the Kingdom of God.
We hope you’ll journey with us. And please let us hear from you.
What is your experience with people with disabilities in ministry leadership?