What It’s Like to Be a Pastor Raising an Autistic Child

What It’s Like to Be a Pastor Raising an Autistic Child

Every new pastor receives several questions when they arrive to a new church. Who are you? Where are you from? How will you preach? Will you root for my favorite team?

If a pastor and their family have young children, there are additional questions that you get asked week to week. They focus around the idea of how can we love your child? Those are some of my favorite questions to answer, because there is nothing like seeing your child loved and cared for by the family of God. Your immediate thought is to say, “Well, love them like they are your own.”

For me, though, I have to think about how to answer that question. It’s a lot harder to answer, because of our son’s autism.

With each new community, there are additional questions, concerns, and needs that come in welcoming a new pastor kid let alone one who is on the spectrum. While autism has been part of the general consciousness since 1943, there is still a lack of understanding and awareness of what autism is and is not. I include myself in that conversation. Questions about the basics of autism, what needs to be done, and everything that falls in between are welcome for not just our son but the general community of how to love all of God’s children.

While most conversations about our son focus on worship and interactions within the church – that is, after all, where the majority of people will see him – it only scratches the surface of what is involved in raising a child on the spectrum, especially as a pastor.

So, what is it really like to raise a child on the spectrum disorder as a pastor? Continue reading “What It’s Like to Be a Pastor Raising an Autistic Child”

The Better Way

The Better Way

The last few weeks have been, well, crazy. I think that is the holiest way you can describe what it is like to move from one state to another, deal with movers, and to make new friends with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

It feels like these last few weeks have been a case of constantly going from one thing to the next. A series of events of making sure Noah is getting enrolled in school and has the proper therapies. A series of trying to figure out what is going on and where things are. A series of learning all I can about the church and meeting as many of you as I can.

I want to thank you for how you have made us feel welcome, the stories that you have shared, and the information you have provided. They have all been welcome and appreciated. I want to be honest with you. It is easy to feel like my head spinning around like it was on a swivel. It is easy to get overwhelmed by everything.

Do you ever feel that way? Do ever feel so overwhelmed by life that, at times, you’re not sure which way is up? Even when what you are doing is good and necessary, do you ever feel so caught up in life, in busyness, in craziness, that you’re not sure what is going on and feel distracted by trying to get it all done?

Now, do we ever feel like that in the church? Do we ever feel overwhelmed in the church? I’ve been thinking about my previous churches I have had the pleasure of serving. Each of these congregations have done some amazing things, but they all held in common a sense of anxiety and nervousness. Anxiety about the future, of trying to hold on, or of trying to make sense of the world. They all seemed to be caught up in busyness to a point it distracted them from the main thing.

I don’t know about you, but when I am overwhelmed, I am not able to accomplish the things that I want to do with all of my focus. Can you imagine how much more than statement is true for a community of 60, 70, 80, 90, or even 100 people?

I wonder if this is how Christ desires for us to share life together. Is there a better way for us to live that is absent of the anxiety that often consumes us? A way that leads us to discipleship in Christ that forms who we are, what we claim, and we do in response to our love of God. Continue reading “The Better Way”

What Will We Do?

What Will We Do?

One of the highlights of my ministry has been to go to the Holy Land. I’ve gone twice now either with the encouragement of the church, or this last time, with 20 people from my previous church and community.

Each trip has been holy and have included some breathtaking moments. They have included teaching adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, preaching sermons in Israel, and offering communion to pilgrims in Jerusalem. They have also included some hilarity in what I call my classic “Clark Griswald” moments. I had a stress fracture during my first trip for stepping off the bus wrong. In February, I spent the entire trip with both food poisoning and asthma issues.

And I want to go back. I want to go back, because every time I have gone it has opened my eyes more to the life within Scripture. The pages are no longer just words, but are lived out places of life, hope, and struggle. My preaching is better because of my experiences in Israel.

Our passage today, from Luke 10:25-37, is among those that I have a different appreciation for after visiting the Holy Land. The story takes place somewhere between Jerusalem and Jericho. This is same area Jesus would travel throughout the majority of Luke’s gospel on his way to the passion. These two historic cities are separated by almost 20 miles and a vast arid desert.

That desert includes the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The same valley cemented in our minds through the words of Psalm 23. It is a rocky and desolate place, but also features several meandering roads. Those roads were regularly traversed by people wanting to go between Jerusalem and Jericho. It was a dangerous road, because robbers and bandits would hide in between the valley’s ridges waiting to attack unsuspecting travelers. It would not be uncommon to see someone lying on the road left for dead.

So, with all of that, and knowing all of that, what would you do? Continue reading “What Will We Do?”