Pastor Craig Johnson is the Associate Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas and founder of Champions, a special needs ministry dedicated to kids, teens, and adults. After Pastor Johnson’s son Connor was diagnosed with autism, he quickly recognized the unseen special needs population within the faith communities. While the church members complimented him on the wonderful children’s programming offered each Sunday during worship, he also realized the absence of any special needs families.
With the establishment of Champions, over 300 special needs families worship each Sunday together as part of the larger community.
Last night, in a conversation on “Special Needs In Faith Spaces,” Pastor Johnson shared this story with me: One night, he took his son Connor for dinner. Like any dad would do, he asked him, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Pastor Johnson was expecting a response of fireman, pastor, or chef.
Connor responded, “I want to be grateful.”
This is a message we can and must learn. A simple lesson that our tradition teaches on a daily basis. Last week, we find the rebellion of Korach. This week, we find the Jews complaining in the desert of thirst and hunger. The disadvantages outweigh the advantages. We ask ourselves, “Is the journey worth it? Is there any gratitude to be had in a dark, difficult world?”
And then we hear Connor’s response: “When I grow up I want to be grateful.”
May we all grow up to be grateful.