A Little Boy, a Little Wheelchair, and a Big Lesson about Servanthood

by Jun 12, 2024Encouragement, Special Needs Parenting, Spiritual Support0 comments

Guest blogger Steve Harris explains his life with a little boy, a little wheelchair, and a big lesson in servanthood.

A Little Boy, a Little Wheelchair, and a Big Lesson about Servanthood by guest blogger Steve Harris addresses the servanthood aspect of caring for children with disabilities and special needs with honesty and compassion. May it bring honor to servant-hearted dads as Father’s Day approaches.

I’ll never forget the day my son, Matthew, then about three, got his first wheelchair. Shiny new and sparkling candy-apple red, it looked, well, so “cute.” Like a toy, actually. It wasn’t, of course. My little boy was paralyzed from the waist down since birth by spina bifida. This wheelchair was going to get him places! My wife and I would no longer have to carry him everywhere. He was excited. We were excited. I loved that chair!

Until I didn’t.

Over the next years, Matthew got a ton of use out of that little wheelchair. We took it everywhere—on countless walks, to his school, the mall, local playgrounds, church. That chair became a huge part of his life—and ours.

What wasn’t to love?

It wasn’t easy to lug it around, for one thing. Our car trunk was roomy but we still had to break it down to transport it. Remove the wheels, footrests, and head cushion. Every time. Multiple times each trip. If we faced stairs, it meant carrying Matthew and the chair for short distances. Needed maintenance was another thing. Flat tires. Worn breaks.

None of that was cute.

I’ll be honest. I got tired of that chair. I knew it was an indispensable part of my son’s life. It wasn’t going away. (Over the next four decades of his life it would only get replaced by bigger—and heavier—chairs.) But I struggled with all of that. Selfish? Yes. Human? I think so.

What we’re dealing with here is caregiving.

Coming in all shapes and sizes, it’s a daily reality for millions of people. (Recent stats say about 1 in every 5 adults in our country is a caregiver). Caregiving is hard, demanding, draining, and physically difficult. Caregiving as a parent of a child who is disabled and has special needs is unique to say the least.

What we’re really talking about is servanthood.

Choosing to meet the needs of others at the expense of our own. Servanthood is also very hard. It goes against our nature. Faced with a choice between selfishness or servanthood, servanthood often loses.

Following Jesus, the Ultimate Servant, means saying “yes” to servanthood!

Matthew 20:28 tells us He came “…not…to be served, but to serve.” Philippians 2:7 says that He took “the very nature of a servant.” To follow His example—and our only hope to do that is by connecting to His Spirit and power—takes us on a completely different path than the world offers.

Servanthood won’t be easy.

A little boy, a big chair, and a big lesson about servanthood taught me that. It won’t make your “wheelchairs” any lighter either. Why do it? Because servanthood is a choice worth making and a path worth taking, bringing us to places of personal peace and fulfillment the world can’t touch.

Let’s give it a try.

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Steve Harris and sons

By Steve Harris

Steve Harris—www.steveharrisauthor.com—recently published “Dads Like Us: A Survival Guide for Fathers Raising a Child with Disabilities.” He lives with his wife, Sue, in Lanesboro, Minnesota. Reach him at steveharrisDLU@gmail.com.


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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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