Over the last two weeks I’ve been getting lots of requests to do interviews. Some of the interviews are radio interviews and others are written interviews ranging from college and grad students wanting my perspective on life with autism to organizations wanting my opinion on current affairs related to the autism community.
No matter the context, I find the questions that I receive to be riveting. I enjoy sharing my story and I enjoy being a source of inspiration even more but the truth is I’m just a regular guy with a pretty interesting story to tell.
With that being said I want to start a new blog series where I share some of the questions I’ve been getting about my life as an autistic pastor, husband, and father and my responses to those questions. I’ll also take the time to elaborate on some of my answers to those questions.
I’ll do my best to keep the questions as close to the interviewers actual words
Answer: Learning that I was autistic has actually helped my relationship with God. I have learned more about myself and that it is ok to be human. Before learning I had autism, I thought that I was weak and weird, but since learning about autism I realize that I am human like everyone else. Growing up I thought that the reason I couldn’t do certain things was because I was defective in some way. Not having a valid reason for some of my issues made it look and feel as though I was making excuses or wanting to be the exception to the rules. That’s a tough road to follow. It also makes it extremely difficult to practice your faith because it will make you feel as though you’re not doing it right because your faith doesn’t resemble the way others express their faith. Getting a diagnosis of ASD actually helped strengthen my faith. It has helped me to appreciate that faith doesn’t mean I have to be perfect in order to succeed, I just need faith in God and faith in myself.
Question: What motivates you to stay positive when challenges arise?
Answer: I stay motivated by having good people around me. I don’t have a lot of friends but I have the right people in my life. I think that is important for people on the spectrum. Finding the right types of relationships are far more important than having many relationships. I may be on the autism spectrum, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t need relationships. Healthy relationships help keep me motivated because I need someone or something outside of myself to help me manage my life. It can be different and difficult at times and I’ve learned to not depend on myself to be able to manage my life alone. I need people in my corner to cheer me on. On the other hand my wife and children also keep me motivated because they depend on me and love me not matter what.
Question: What inspired you to became a pastor?
Answer: I was around 21 years old when I felt a sense of calling to become a pastor. I tried to avoid it for over a year but the feeling only got stronger and I had more and more people expressing that they saw it in me as well. Eventually I decided to pursue my calling, but the road to becoming a pastor was a very difficult one for me. Having autism can be a challenge in modern church culture. I don’t fit the stereotypical image or role of a pastor. It took several years for me to find a place where I was comfortable being myself. Many adults on the spectrum who were diagnosed in adulthood experience a life where learning how to blend in and appear “normal” became a matter of survival.
In my experience as a Christian and pastor, there is no place where the pressure to fit in is greater than in the church.
It took me nearly 14 years to find a place that I could truly be myself and be the pastor at the same time. The church can be uneccessarily hard on people who are different and while I love the church, I am also aware that there are not many churches that could accept the fact that their pastor is on the autism spectrum. The church I pastor is extraordinary in the way they are accepting of the real me. I’ve finally found the freedom I needed to be the person and pastor that God was calling me to be and that’s why it is my mission to educate churches about autism so that we can begin to create environments and opportunities for the autism and special needs community to find a place of hope and freedom too.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series. Have questions you want to ask? Send them to on my Autism Pastor FB page .