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October 20th, 2009

                Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects people in many different ways.  Chemical imbalances in the brain cause an inability to concentrate, restlessness, and sometimes includes short term memory issues.  How does having ADHD affect my work as a pastor?

First, enjoy the benefits.  The way I’ve learned to cope with the “H” in ADHD means that I get a LOT done.  Someday when I am gone you’ll understand the contrast of having a senior pastor who is not so hyperactive.  That pastor will bring strengths in my area of weakness, but will probably not answer your e-mails within minutes or stay on top of a multitude of “urgent” tasks.

Second, be aware that when I talk to you, I cannot necessarily retain the conversation very long.  Therefore, Sunday morning is probably not the best time for you to tell me something you want me to remember.  Even more so than other times, my mind is racing.  Sermon, worship, Sunday School, people’s names and needs, what happened yesterday, what’s coming up next week, and maybe even the Carolina Panthers.  If you want me to remember something you tell me on a Sunday, reinforce it with a note or an e-mail, or remind me to write it down. 

                Speaking of writing things down, I now realize that ADHD is why I often take notes during “get to know you” conversations and some pastoral care and counseling situations.  It helps me to focus and to retain information. 

                Finally, don’t make excuses for me.  I am not telling you about my ADHD to elicit sympathy or make excuses.  I understand better now how my brain works and how I cope.  But I am perfectly OK with your asking me if I heard what you just said.  I’m OK with your reminding me to slow down and enjoy the moment.  I’m OK with your telling me ways in which my behavior, ADHD-related or otherwise, adversely affects you. 

It’s not about my conveying to you, “This is just how I am.  Get used to it.”  Some aspects of my brain function I may not be able to change.  But with God’s help I can be more aware and I can try harder to accept, love, and serve you because I’ve been accepted, loved, and served by God and you more than I can ever repay.

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