By Maina Mwaura
I was fired from my ministry job.
But they didn’t use the term fired. Instead they dressed it up: “We need to move in another direction. We love you, Maina, and we think you’re a great guy.”
Deep down, in a place I tried to ignore, I knew my short attention span had something do with this seemingly sudden need for a new direction.
My lack of focus had been an issue for as long as I could remember. No matter how hard I strained to focus my mind, nothing seemed to help from calendars to several high-end calendar programs. I knew in order to move forward, I was going to need assistance.
For years, my wife had been encouraging me to seek help. And as my last church was letting me go, my wife had the insight to ask them if they would cover the cost for testing and counseling. They agreed. Her one question, in the midst of turmoil, set into motion the path of healing that I walk today.
When my counselor and I finished the two-hour testing, I walked out of the office fully committed to my healing. That commitment was followed by immediately being tested for adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—a form of mental illness characterized by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, which causes the lack of focus.
At the second appointment, my counselor reviewed the results with me. Of course, the test came back positive: I was diagnosed with adult ADHD. She explained that on a scale of 0 to 100, I scored a 72. I recall sitting nervously in my counselor’s office, feeling hopeless.
But over time, I learned several truths about vulnerability in leadership. Here are a couple of them.
God uses areas of vulnerability or weakness to accomplish His purposes.
I hate to admit it, but I was prideful in dealing with the reality of ADHD. Although I accepted help, I believed because of my education and tenure in ministry, people shouldn’t know about my diagnosis.
Ironically, I had to come to the end of myself to begin anew. As the counselor began to explain adult ADHD, I felt a burden lifting.
Through a series of events since that time, doors opened up for me to tell the stories of people making a gospel impact around the globe. As a journalist, I get a front-row seat to watch the giftedness and calling of others play out in chapters of God’s story. He used a weakness to have me removed from a church staff role to position me to carry out His will for this season of my life—to minister through telling His stories.
I can boast that in my weakness that God is strong and I’m not.
It’s not just okay to ask for help—it’s crucial to Christian community.
It didn’t take long after my diagnosis to realize coping skills and organizational movement wasn’t going to be enough to manage my ADHD. In my case, medication was prescribed (which isn’t for everyone and should only be taken if the doctor recommends it).
I asked myself questions like, “Do I really need this?” And, “Can I go on without it?” I even tried to rationalize my situation by convincing myself that my ADHD wasn’t as bad as those close to me are making it out to be.
Regardless of what your weakness is—be it a diagnosis or a less-than-desirable trait of humanity—humility is a critical step on the path toward thriving. I’m thankful that a couple of my accountability partners encouraged—and maybe even pushed me—to go in and have the prescription filled.
The next day they kept me accountable when it was time to actually take the medication. I would, highly recommend to anyone—especially those in leadership—to find a group of people who will boldly and biblically speak into your life. And don’t wait until you have a crisis or a weakness exposed; establish this band of people when things seem to be going well in your life.
The season leading up to my ADHD diagnosis was one of the most painful in my life. During the time, there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. But now, as I sit on the other side of what was, at the time, a humiliating discovery, I can see how God used a weakness to show Himself strong in my life and put me in a place where He wanted to use me.
And He can do that for you, too.
MAINA MWAURA is a freelance journalist and minister who lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Tiffiney, and daughter Zyan.