On Coming Out …. Or Not

This is a big decision.  What would it mean to let people know that I am an autistic minister?  Other autistic people might appreciate knowing a minister on the spectrum.  However, neuro-typicals might feel that they could not trust me anymore.  I could lose a job that I love very much.  Or I could lose the confidence of some of the people I minister to.   Probably my ministry would be re-shaped in ways that I can’t now imagine.  Some of the changes would probably make me happy; others of them perhaps would make me sad.

I’ve been writing some things about mental illness and spirituality, and have been in conversation with a publisher who might be interested in publishing it.  When they requested some additional material, I threw in a chapter about my own journey with autism. I think I was hoping they would say that the material about my autism doesn’t really fit in this prospective book.  But, instead, they especially like that chapter!  What do I do now?  Do I leave it in?  Do I give them more of my writing on the subject?  Do I forget the whole thing and walk away?

Continuing this conversation with the publisher could change my life in some dramatic ways.  As an Aspie,  I do not like change.  I especially don’t like it if I don’t know in advance exactly what lies down the road!

As with all major decisions, I know that it is not ultimately a matter of avoiding my fears of the unknown.  It really comes down to my relationship with God.  What does God have in mind here for my life and for my ministry?

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Coming Out

2 responses to “On Coming Out …. Or Not

  1. sherfreak

    For myself personally, I haven’t told a lot of people that I have Asperger’s Syndrome; whenever it comes up in a conversation I’ll talk about it, explain what it is basically (high functioning autism, only different in some ways). But as for offering that information to strangers, if it doesn’t really effect what we’re talking about? Not really.
    Honestly I’d say ask God, listen to what He says, wait for His guidance. You could tell your friends, family, but telling everyone else; I don’t know. (Obviously, I’m not you so I don’t know how you feel about it) But I think I would just continue on with what you’re doing and see what happens. If anyone mentions noticing something different about you, if you feel comfortable and led to do so, you could tell them. I don’t see why they should have a problem with being under an Autistic minister, but people are people and unpredictable in many ways.
    With the book – I’d say keep the chapter in. If they ask for more, see how comfortable you are with that. Definitely keep your heart open and ask God, and trust yourself. That’s one thing I have trouble with, trusting myself. Being confident in the fact that I have gifts, and those gifts are valuable and I need not fear what the world will think. We should not do things for man’s praise, but do all things to honor God and show Him in our hearts, share Him with the world.
    What mental illnesses are you discussing, or is it just a general discussion of mental illness and how it can impact spirituality and vice versa?

  2. Wow! This is a huge decision, but I would love to see a world in which it wasn’t. In so many ways, we do not treat those that don’t fit the mold very well even in our churches.

    By “coming out” you will be in uncharted territory. I’m certain that there are huge numbers of Aspie ministers, I don’t know of any that are “out of the closet”. We are still very much in a “don’t tell, don’t ask” sort of mentality. I think it would be great if you were able to be open about your autistic nature. I know it would have been a great benefit to my father. My wife did let people at our church that she was on the Spectrum and it didn’t go too well (at least not at first – time will tell if the church comes around).

    My father also really liked to know what was coming. He was the king of the rulebook in his Conference. Any time anyone wanted a ruling on a matter of procedure, they would contact him.

    The minister at our church had some interesting thoughts that relate to this matter in his sermon this morning. Today was the last day of his sermon series on the Beattitudes. His take on “Blessed are the Persecuted” may be useful as you think about your decision.

    http://nicholascoates.blogspot.ca/2013/11/come-and-listen-blessed-are-persecuted.html

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