A.D.H.D. / A.D.D. has always been somewhat of a mystery to me…
Through the years, I’ve been on both sides of the opinion-scale, from sympathetic, all the way to skeptical.
Before I launch into my thoughts on the subject, let me say this:
I know that it’s easy to make judgments about things from the outside, but quite another thing to actually experience it. I’m sure the same is true with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve not experienced A.D.H.D. personally, or as a parent. I know that could make me suspect in the eyes of many. But I ask you to hear me out.
I’m willing to take that chance that many will deride or criticize me over this issue. Why?
Because I believe it’s possible that great deception may be occurring, in some cases.
I believe that entire families are buying in to a way of thinking that could set them up for generations of dysfunction and sin. If my words in this post serve to help even one family re-think this issue according to a more biblical, Christ-centered focus, I’ll gladly take all the slams and harsh comments that come from everyone else.
What I suspect about the reality of A.D.H.D/A.D.D.
- The effects of sin are prevalent enough that I see no reason why a genuine physiological condition like A.D.H.D. could not exist. We easily explain things like epilepsy and birth defects by pointing to the effects of sin on the world. Why can’t we conceive that the same kind of “short circuit” could happen in the wiring of the brain, due to the impact sin has had on the world?
- Like many other “conditions” (feelings of worthlessness, self-destructive tendencies, etc.), I suspect that a person’s experiences have an impact on whether a condition like A.D.H.D. develops or not. So, trauma, neglect, age-inappropriate stimulus, etc. could have an impact on whether a person develops A.D.H.D.
- It’s also likely that the individual physiological makeup of a person could make them more or less prone to a condition like this.
- I also suspect that diet has a TON to do with the prevalence of this, and many other conditions. God made our bodies to function optimally on certain fuel. When we don’t get that fuel, or substitute it with inferior fuel, bad results should be expected.
So, to summarize: I do believe that a legitimate condition, referred to as A.D.D./A.D.H.D., exists.
But I think there’s more to be said than only that…
What I suspect about the prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
My wife and I are considering ways to come alongside parents in unique, interactive, get-away parenting workshops. Are you interested in helping us get it off the ground? Click the image to find out more!
I’ll just lay my cards on the table here: I think much of what is diagnosed as A.D.D./A.D.H.D., is not really that. There, I said it. And I say it for a couple of reasons:
- One of the areas where the LORD has poured out His grace on my wife and I, is in the area of Spirit-led parenting. He’s given us an insight into what makes for “good” and “bad” parenting, generally speaking. From that perspective, I can see that many of the behaviors, especially in children, that are often diagnosed as A.D.D.-related, are not. They are simply the results of unwise or un-godly parenting. Children can be taught, from an early age, to have self-control, greater attention spans
- The sinful human tendency that we all struggle with is to justify our struggles and sins rather than confessing, repenting, and allowing God to bring about change through our humility. We’d rather “blame” our child’s (or our own) inconsiderate or selfish behavior on a condition like A.D.D., than to deal with it rightly. It’s easier to do, and absolves our conscience of any feeling of being in the wrong.
- As adults, it’s sometimes easier to think “happy thoughts” about those who played a part in developing our disorganized, undisciplined, self-oriented ways of living, than to look back and admit that they actually did something wrong in the way they raised us. Simply put: Many people would rather blame A.D.D. for their adult issues that to allow their parents to bear the blame.
So, to summarize: I believe that much (but not all) of what is called A.D.H.D., is sin that’s been allowed, legitimized by the comfort of a culturally-acceptable “diagnosis”.
All that said, how can you tell the difference between true A.D.D., and actual sin?
It’s hard to tell the difference, especially if you’ve already accepted one definition or the other for any length of time. Changing long-held opinions and mindsets is tough work. But thankfully, we’re not left alone in the task of getting our heads on straight. We have a Savior who is in the business of renewing minds (Romans 12:2). He can, and will, help us figure out this issue, to His glory.
Here’s how I suggest you approach the issue:
1. Work to have a teachable spirit about the issue
The first step in discovering any wrong perspective you might have, on any issue, is to admit a handful of important things:
- You don’t know it all, on the subject. No, really, you don’t.
- You are human, and therefore have a limited perspective which doesn’t take into account every situation or variable possible.
- Your perspective is likely skewed, based on your experiences, education, culture, and all kinds of other things.
You need to admit those things to yourself so that you are open to discovering things you haven’t thought of before, able to truly hear what’s being said from the other side of the issue, and are tuned in to the voice of the Spirit of God, as He speaks to you about the issue.
God Himself will help you come to a greater degree of clarity about A.D.H.D., if you humble yourself to be taught.
2. Get more than one objective opinion about your situation
This step in itself, is not easy to know how to do. Who do you approach? A Pastor? A Psychologist? A school guidance counselor? A Christian counselor? Each one is going to have their bias, but each one might also have something truly helpful to contribute.
Here my main suggestion in choosing the people who you will trust in this issue:
- No matter the person’s area of expertise, you should do your best to seek counsel from followers of Christ.
Let me give you a non-related example to clarify why I say this:
It is true; a non-Christian in a certain field of expertise may be just as capable, or even more so, than a Christian in that same field. Mechanics, plumbers, brain surgeons, attorneys – non-believers in those professions may be able to function equally well as their Christian counterparts. But those situations, the field of study is not an area having to do with the human personality, the soul, and how those things relate and mix together. This issue regarding A.D.H.D. is.
In dealing with an issue that addresses issues of soul, spirit, and body, like the one before us, you need to get your counsel from someone who is filled with the Spirit of God, the true and only Counselor (John 16:7-8). He knows how human beings are designed best of all. What is more, He knows the particular human being in question, on an intimate level. He knows their past, present, and future, and how all those things impact them as an individual. It only makes sense that as a believer in Christ, you want a Christ-led person as an adviser.
The people you go to for counsel need to have the God-filled power that comes through the Holy Spirit, so they have a better opportunity to discern what is really going on in the situation.
3. You need to take the counsel you receive directly to the scriptures, to judge the truthfulness of it for yourself.
Many believers don’t do this. Many believers don’t know how to do this.
The Bible is your source of knowledge, wisdom, and guidance, far beyond any human being. You need to humbly listen to your counsel, to take it seriously, to strive to understand what is truly being said, but then… you need to take it all to the scripture for validation.
Some cautions here:
- This is one of the places in a process like this, where you could easily slip back into incorrect, life-long ways of thinking you may have discovered earlier in the process. Be careful to remain humble. Be careful to remain open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Be careful to allow Him to bring conviction of truth and of sin.
- All of us are prone to adapting the scriptures to the counsel we receive, instead of adapting our counsel to the scriptures. It’s especially tempting to do this when the scriptures appear to say what you don’t want to hear. Make this commitment: Scripture is the authority. Let it say what it says, with no excuses or fudging in your own heart.
4. You need to let love reign, in any adjustments you make.
Remember, you’re not dealing with an engine, or a cake, or some other inanimate thing. You’re dealing with people, here. Love for the person must be your overarching concern as you make any adjustments.
- Discuss the need for the adjustments you’re making. Explain the conviction behind them, and how you came to the conclusions you did. The people involved need to know the process you went through.
- Show the people involved why you think your decision is best, in God’s eyes. That’s what matters. Help them learn what you have learned.
- Be careful that, in an effort to be loving, you don’t allow yourself to side-step the truth about what’s really going on. The people involved in the process of change may not like what you feel should be done, but you need to be clear about it, regardless.
5. Understand that regardless of any “condition” a person has, they are responsible before God to walk by the Spirit.
- Christ followers who are prone to alcoholism are still responsible to submit themselves to the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit.
- Christ followers with epilepsy are still responsible to submit themselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
- Christ followers who are rightly diagnosed with A.D.H.D. are still responsible to submit themselves to the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible makes it clear that every in every circumstance, we are to live to the glory and honor of God. Job did it while sick. Paul did it in prison, and with some kind of physical malady (I think it was a problem with his vision). We are to do it with A.D.H.D.
6. Remember, God is in total control, even of your A.D.H.D.
God uses the hardships we face to bring about our transformation and His glory, in our lives. Your attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (or that of your child), is not an accident. It is not a curse. It is not a bane to your existence.
It is a tool of the almighty God, to conform you, and those around you, to the image of His Son, Jesus.
Look for what He’s doing with it. Watch for how He uses it. And give Him glory.
A final resource – from John Piper
One of the many things I appreciate about Pastor John Piper is that he appears to take the time to truly think about issues like this, with a humble attitude. He’s willing to re-evaluate every presupposition or idea he may have had about a subject, and subject it wisely to the word of God.
One of the points he’s made repeatedly that I’ve found helpful is the assertion that we have to continually be creating “new categories” in our thinking, in light of what scripture teaches. That’s his way of saying that we have to learn how to think like God thinks, not like we normally would think.
Recently, I heard him speaking on this issue of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, on his podcast, “Ask Pastor John.” It was a very helpful, and gracious discussion of some of the issues involved. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.