How Faith Leaders Can Support ADHDers
When a person struggles with hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and executive functions, they will struggle in their spiritual life. There are very little resources avail even addressing how to manage one’s spiritual life when one has ADHD. It has been my observation that very few, if any, faith leaders (priests, pastors, rabbis, imams, etc.) offer guidance on managing ADHD and one’s spiritual life. Therefore, I offer this challenge to faith leaders of all religious backgrounds: Research ADHD and how you can minister to those members of your flock who have ADHD. To help you with this task, I offer the following suggestions:
It is impossible to effectively manage ADHD if you are ignorant of its effects on a person. Researching ADHD is the best thing anyone can do if they wish to help a person with ADHD. Simply understanding it, creates a mindset tuned into the specific challenges of ADHD and what might help ease the struggles it causes. This website has some resources. Other reliable sources include Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), Dr. Edward Hallowell, and How to ADHD.
Recognize That ADHD Cannot Be Prayed Away
One of the worst things you can do to a person with ADHD is minimize our struggles. ADHD is real, and it will plague us our entire life. Being told that we will be able to focus if we just try harder or that God will heal us of our ADHD if we just entrust it to him in our prayers offers us a false hope. God gave us this struggle for a reason. We are meant to suffer in this way because it is part of God’s plan. Why that is will not ever make sense to us in this life, but we must trust that He is working for our benefit through our ADHD. Help us cooperate with God’s plan and do not just tell us to pray away the ADHD.
Do Not Read Your Sermon off of a Piece of Paper
When a sermon is read off of a piece of paper, the delivery is almost inevitably done in a monotone voice. This sounds boring. It does not matter if the content of the sermon is stellar; the ADHD mind will not be able to concentrate. Boredom is repulsive to the ADHD brain. Strive to avoid anything that will make your sermon boring. One crucial thing you can do to prevent that is to memorize it or work from an outline.
Teach Alternative Methods of Prayer
Standard methods of prayer involve calming down, being quiet, and other things that are difficult for a person with ADHD. Teach your congregations about alternative methods of prayer. How can an ADHDer move and pray? Is there any way an ADHDer can utilize their powerful imagination in their prayer life? Examine your faith tradition, and study the ways others have prayed over the years. Find those rare methods of prayer that have been beneficial to members of your faith throughout the years of its existence.
Later Service Times
One struggle that affects those with ADHD that might prevent them from even showing up to your services is getting out of bed. Those with ADHD have trouble falling asleep at night and getting up in the morning. In order to help those members of your flock who have this struggle, offer services that are later in the day. Early morning services might not be attended well by those who struggle to get up in the morning.
Show Mercy to Us
Those of us with ADHD will mess up. Our challenges make it difficult to be the ideal version of ourselves we strive to be. We want to focus while praying, but we will get disctracted. That is our cross to bear. We will feel terrible about our inability to focus on something so important to us. In those moments, do not shame us, but instead, offer us mercy. Remind us of God’s love for us.
Yes, we will have our struggles. Yes, we will mess up, and it will not always be entirely our fault. Yes, you should be merciful in those moments, but do not allow us to use ADHD as a crutch. We have strengths, and we need to be encouraged to use them to overcome the challenges presented by ADHD. Help us rise to the challenge and achieve excellence in our lives. Your encouragement and belief in us could be crucial to us becoming the incredible human beings God created us to be.