Spiritual Discipline: Service
For the second discipline in this series on practicing the Spiritual Disciplines while living with ADHD, we will be looking at acts of service. Service is also known as volunteering, giving, sharing, servant hood, helping, and a variety of other words.
Serving others is a major part of any Christian community. Servant hood is what allows many churches to operate without having to have a large number of paid staff. Without volunteers, churches would be unable to provide many of the community programming that they offer, especially during the holiday seasons.
The book of Acts makes mention of different acts of sharing within the newly forming Christianity and its church communities. In his letters St. Paul places a heavy emphasis on caring for each other and lifting each other up as part of the foundation of being Christ-like and living in brotherly (and sisterly) harmony. In fact, St. Paul saw servant hood as an expression and sign of one’s love for Christ.
With ADHD there can be a variety of challenges that come with having a servant’s heart. We cannot ignore these vulnerabilities and need to take into account certain factors that affect our ability to help others.
- Over committing
- Difficulty in saying “no” to requests for your time
- Issues with managing time (e.g. showing up late, last minute cancelling, forgetting to show up)
- Fatigue or irritability due to one’s medication wearing off
- Signing up to do things that are difficult for you to focus on
- Extra responsibilities causing you additional stress
- Volunteer coordinators not respecting the limitations caused by you having ADHD
- Feelings of insecurity about not being able to “do it all” or comparing your acts of service to that of others
When offering to volunteer, it is important to consider any issues your ADHD might cause. Limitations don’t mean you can’t do good deeds for others or your community, it simply means you have to take extra caution that your service does not lead to more harm than good.
It is perfectly alright to say “no”, “yes”, or “maybe another time”. You can only give what you already have. God is not sitting in heaven with a score board counting how many times you have helped others. Our Father knows our heart and is perfectly capable of telling the difference between our being selfish vs. taking time for self-care. As human beings we can only do so much on an individual basis, this is why we are each called to contribute to serving one another. Serving each other is meant to prevent burn-out and stop us from trying to carry burdens on our own.
God wants us to have enough energy so that we will be alert enough to see the needs of others and then meet them.
If you are unable to directly meet someone’s needs, be kind about it, and if you are able to direct them to someone else or a service that will be of help to them, then do so; this is still a form of helping. You might feel guilty, but in referring them to someone else who can help, you are doing them a favour. Again, God knows your heart and He knows you can’t do everything yourself.
ACTION: Pray that you will always be aware and alert to the needs of others. Pray for discernment so your kindness and resources will not be taken advantage of. Pray that you will take care of yourself so you can also provide care to others. Pray for a Christ-like heart so that you will lovingly serve others without bitterness. I pray all of these alongside you. To those of you who are out there serving with your heart and your abilities; High Five!
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Matthew 22: 37-40
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”