“What Should I Focus On?” My Calling as a Ward Disability Specialist (2020).
“What Should I Focus On?” My Calling as a Ward Disability Specialist.
“Leaders encourage members to engage in God’s work by becoming ‘true followers of … Jesus Christ’ (Moroni 7:48)” (General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4.1). Your focus as a ward disability specialist is to help individuals prepare to make the next covenant they need on the covenant path and to strengthen them in keeping their covenants.
In President Russell M. Nelson’s first address as President of the Church, he counseled: “Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere. … The end for which each of us strives is to be endowed with power in a house of the Lord, sealed as families, faithful to covenants made in a temple that qualify us for the greatest gift of God—that of eternal life” (“As We Go Forward Together,” Ensign, Apr. 2018, 7).
You are a disciple of Jesus Christ. Discipleship includes loving, teaching, leading, and serving others. President Henry B. Eyring taught: “You are called to represent the Savior. Your voice to testify becomes the same as His voice, your hands to lift the same as His hands” (“Rise to Your Call,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 76).
The following leadership principles will help you as you seek to bless the people you serve:
Minister to all of God’s children.
Teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Preside in righteousness.
Counsel together and build unity.
Delegate responsibility and ensure accountability.
Prepare others to be leaders and teachers.
Plan meetings, lessons, and activities with clear purposes.
For more information, see General Handbook, 4.2.
Your responsibilities as a ward disability specialist include:
Increasing awareness and understanding of individuals’ disabilities and their related needs.
Working with priesthood and organization leaders to determine what assistance will best serve the needs of individuals and their families.
Helping leaders identify opportunities for individuals with disabilities to serve and participate.
In addition to meeting with individuals and their families or caregivers to learn about their needs, you will receive support from priesthood and organization leaders. The Church also provides information and resources at disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org that will help you and those you serve. The following are highlights from this site:
Individuals: Read doctrinal resources about hope, and find answers to questions such as “Can I serve a mission?” and “How can I contribute and minister?”
Parents and Caregivers: Resources for parents and other caregivers can be found here, along with frequently asked questions, such as “How can I help my loved one progress on the covenant path?”
Leaders and Teachers: See an information sheet for parents to fill out to help you better understand the needs of their children.
Teaching Strategies: View 10 short videos that provide strategies to help Primary teachers be more effective as they teach children with disabilities.
Policies and Guidelines: Learn about various policies and guidelines that directly affect members with disabilities. Some topics include service animals, food allergies, and assistive listening devices.
Outside Resources: Find materials that are intended to serve as additional helpful resources as you desire to learn more about specific disabilities.
Home Evening Lesson on Disability: Here you will find a lesson outline ready to use in the home to help strengthen your understanding of disability awareness and inclusion.
Podcast on Faith and Disabilities: Twelve distinguished guests—scholars, organizers, religious leaders, writers—join together to talk about how we can create communities of belonging where people with disabilities and everyone else can feel welcome.
Teachings and Doctrine: This section contains core doctrine that applies to members with disabilities and their families.