A good friend was recently diagnosed as depressed.  It is little wonder.  He spends his day watching TV and nursing hurts and irritants of the past.  Others have encouraged my friend to do something else.  “Why don’t you use your great skills to help other people?”

His response was “I don’t remember anyone doing anything for me.”

The mentally challenged community is not immune to this type of attitude.  In fact, this population can quickly slide or slowly seep into the “What’s in it for me?” syndrome.  Families become accustomed to helping more than they should.  It’s a natural response to a lifetime of having a child who will never learn to do the tasks at the level they desire.  Even the simplest tasks of washing and drying dishes become a marathon of teaching details when you attempt to transfer the intricate steps with hand-on-hand detail.   “It’s Easier to do it Myself” becomes the theme song of many parents and siblings. 

Often people in the professional community do not have the natural ability to teach with the tough and exacting detail needed.  They too fall into the trap of helping more than is needed or necessary.

Therefore, even the most energetic person with a disability can slip into an attitude of expecting.  The attitude of expectation always become deadly as moods sour because needs or expectations are not met.  They may not say, “I don’t remember anyone doing anything for me.”  Yet that statement is easily replaced with “I can’t.”

After my mother had her stroke, she was not able to do much for herself.  Doing for others seemed out of the question.  However, my sister found that Mother loved to fold dish rags and wash cloths.  Mother would spend the entire day folding the cloths.  Mother’s joy came from helping my sister who was overworked by daily housekeeping tasks, a full-time ministry and a mother who needed almost constant care.

The secret to breaking the backs of these deadly attitudes is found in the scriptures.  Hosea 10:12 says, “Sow for yourself righteous, reap the fruit of unfailing love.”  Again, Paul wrote, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9:6-9).  In the scriptures, sowing is always meant as an exercise of giving or serving.

When we grasp the power of serving others, it is a life changing event.  Perhaps the most important thing we can impart to our members with disabilities it the joy of helping others, the delight we experience when we become the servant–rather than the served.  “Lord,” the Psalmist prayed,  “you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Ps 16:5-6).