“Getting Started,” My Calling as a Ward Disability Specialist (2020).
“Getting Started,” My Calling as a Ward Disability Specialist.
Dear Ward Disability Specialist,
Thank you for accepting this calling to serve as a disability specialist! In this calling you have the opportunity to facilitate the participation and inclusion of Church members with disabilities in all aspects of gospel living. In the accounts of the Savior’s ministry in the New Testament, He noticed and ministered to those who were often overlooked in their society. You follow the Savior’s example as you serve individuals with disabilities and their families or other caregivers and seek to help them get on and stay on the covenant path. As you minister with and to them, you can help them come closer to Christ.
You do not need to be an expert to serve as a disability specialist. You will grow in your calling as you:
Seek the Lord’s guidance in your service.
Learn from the available resources.
Meet members with disabilities and their families or other caregivers.
Counsel together with stake and ward leaders.
The Lord will magnify your efforts as you seek His guidance and minister with love to His beloved children.
As a newly called ward disability specialist, you will likely feel a range of emotions about your responsibilities. Remember that you are not alone. This calling is a partnership with the Lord. As you seek the Lord’s guidance in serving members who have disabilities and their families or other caregivers, He will magnify your efforts at home and in your calling. You will feel His love for you and for the people you serve.
Counsel with the member of the bishopric who called you about where to begin. Identify and learn about members in your ward who have disabilities.
Seek guidance from the Spirit through prayer, scripture study, fasting, and, if possible, temple attendance.
Begin to prayerfully seek for inspiration about how these members and their families or other caregivers can be included and supported at church and Church activities.
Read section 38.8.31, “Members with Disabilities,” in General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (ChurchofJesusChrist.org) to learn about your responsibilities and familiarize yourself with the guidelines concerning working with members with disabilities.
Begin to familiarize yourself with the resources provided at disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
With many responsibilities, remember that your family is your first priority.
Continue to pray for guidance about your service. Seek guidance about how you can meet with and minister to individuals with disabilities and their families or other caregivers in your ward.
Let ward leaders know that you are available to help them as they support members with disabilities and their families or other caregivers.
Offer to attend ward council meetings to help leaders understand how they can support members with disabilities and their families or other caregivers.
Meet with the stake disability specialist, if one is called, and ward leaders to discuss ways to give a member with a disability “a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4)” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Converts and Young Men,” Ensign, May 1997, 47).
“A friend”: Counsel with ward leaders to identify ways to help other members get to know those who have disabilities.
“A responsibility”: Learn about the strengths and abilities of each member you work with. Work with ward leaders to ensure that each member has a calling or responsibility appropriate to his or her abilities. All callings should be considered.
“Nurturing with ‘the good word of God’”: Offer to help teachers find ways to include and support every member in their classes and other activities.