Dyslexia made Matt Bird’s childhood tough. But now he sees it as a ‘super power’ and is keen that Christian parents get the message.
I had to resubmit essays at school, I struggle to remember and spell names and I recently spent £1,000 on a special phone number so I wouldn’t forget it. Yes, you guessed it, I’m dyslexic. School was horrendous, I never quite fitted in and for years this ‘condition’ plagued my confidence and held me back. Until one day I realised dyslexia wasn’t my hindrance or my disability, but my God-given superpower. (For more on dyslexia go here.)
Fast forward a few years later and I’ve written 20 books, coach over 100 a year to become published authors, am frequently interviewed on radio and television, have regular columns published in national newspapers and travel the world speaking.
My super-power is now something I’m thankful for, and I’m on a mission to tell the church about it. Here are five things every christian parent should know about dyslexia…
Dyslexia is a gift from God
Dyslexia is often misunderstood as a disability or a learning difficulty, but it’s important to recognise that it’s just a different way of being and processing information. People with dyslexia have unique strengths, such as creativity, problem-solving, and visual-spatial reasoning. The Bible tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). So let’s transform the way we think about dyslexia and see it as a strength rather than a weakness.
A tenth of a church congregation is dyslexic
The NHS states that around 10 per cent of the population in the UK experience dyslexia – so it almost certainly affects members of your congregation. We have a responsibility to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone, including those with dyslexia. Let’s change the language about how we speak about dyslexia in our churches. James 3:9-12 encourages us about the power of the words we use. Dyslexia is not a weakness or something we suffer from, but it’s another gift from God that channels his love for us and should be celebrated not tolerated.
Some of the most creative people are dyslexic
Many people with dyslexia have a natural talent for creative pursuits, such as art, music and writing, so it’s highly likely some of your best worship leaders, media experts and communicators are dyslexic! We can see examples of this in the Bible, such as David, who was a skilled musician and poet, and Solomon, who was a wise and prolific writer. It’s important to recognise and support the creative talents of people with dyslexia in our community, just as God has given each of us unique gifts and talents to use for him.
The Apostle Paul was possibly dyslexic
Although we cannot diagnose dyslexia in historical figures, there is evidence to suggest that the Apostle Paul may have had dyslexia. In his letters, Paul mentions his struggles with writing and his reliance on others to help him communicate his ideas. Despite these challenges, Paul went on to become one of the most influential figures in Christian history, and his writings continue to inspire and guide people today. Can I encourage church leaders to focus on the contribution those who might be perceived as being different and possibly difficult can make IN their churches and communities?
By understanding and supporting people with dyslexia, we have an incredible opportunity to demonstrate God’s love and grace. We can create a church community that is welcoming, inclusive, and supportive of everyone, just as Jesus did. We can celebrate the unique strengths and talents of people with dyslexia, and work together to build a stronger, more vibrant, and more loving church that reflects God’s vision for his people.
It is time for us to see a step-change in the way we think about, talk about, act, approach and include those who are dyslexic. The whole of society – and I include the church – would benefit from a transformation in the way we embrace neurological diversity and inclusion. Let’s stop saying that people suffer from dyslexia. Instead, let’s accept that society and the church suffers because it doesn’t recognise the God-given gift of dyslexia.