What is my responsibility as a leader?

“What is my responsibility as a leader?” Disability Services: Leaders (2020)

“What is my responsibility as a leader?” Disability Services: Leaders

What is my responsibility as a leader?

Man speaking from a pulpit

Church leaders have a sacred responsibility to care for every member of their flock and to reach out to the “one.” This includes reaching out to members with disabilities and their caregivers. When the motivation behind learning about others comes from a place of love and compassion, wonderful things can occur. Church leaders and teachers should keep the following in mind as they work with those who have disabilities and strive to increase awareness and understanding of disabilities:

  • Welcome. Seek ways to help individuals with disabilities feel loved, accepted, and included.

  • Provide opportunities. Prayerfully identify meaningful opportunities for members with disabilities to serve. Meet with the individuals and their caregivers to help identify skills and talents. Discuss with them ways those skills and talents can be best utilized. Everyone has something they can contribute.

  • Identify specific needs. Speak with individuals and families about their needs. They may need physical, spiritual, and emotional support as well as rest from their daily routine. Remember that members with a disability and their families are generally the best resource on their disability. They know about the strengths and challenges that come with a specific disability and can help you identify where help is needed. You can gain much insight by asking individuals, their family members, and other caregivers respectful questions such as the following:

    • “What would be helpful for me to know about you so that I can do my best to help make your experience at church more meaningful?”

    • “What would you like me to know about your child?”

    • “What are things that you have found to be helpful in the past that I could try to implement at church?”

  • Foster understanding. After consulting with members with disabilities about what they feel comfortable having you share with others, help ward members understand the individuals’ disabilities and needs. This can help ward members gain greater compassion, understanding, and inspiration about how to provide support.

  • Identify resources. As you meet with individuals, families, and leaders, you will come to understand where the greatest needs are, as well as the strengths and gifts members are willing to share. Where appropriate, identify community, ward, and stake resources available to assist with those needs.

  • Counsel together. As appropriate, invite individuals, their parents, or other caregivers to discuss with ward leaders their strengths as well as challenges and obstacles that may keep them from fully participating in the ward. Help parents connect with other parents who have children with similar disabilities.