“In my first year at theological college, aged 33, I discovered I was dyslexic. I guess I had known it since my mid twenties when my then fiancée’s house mate, a special needs teacher in Cambridge, told me she thought I was dyslexic.
As an engineer, with a good degree from a Scottish University, I had used all the strengths of dyslexia (3D thinking, visualisation of buildings in my mind’s eye; sales and marketing of a structural engineering system which relied on being able to combine the economics of construction with technical stuff). I had project managed a couple of small contracts in Singapore and really enjoyed it, pulling together teams from different disciplines to get the job done. I had not needed to know that I might be dyslexic.” – Neil Robbie, Vicar Holy Trinity
Over the years, it’s been our privilege to know a number of religious leaders who shared with us that they were dyslexic. There are a wide range of dyslexic MIND strengths that come into play for ministry: among them empathy, big picture thinking, interconnected reasoning, narrative reasoning, and dynamic reasoning.
More from Robbi’es blog, Transforming Grace:
“There are many hurdles facing dyslexic people pursuing a career in ministry that Neil touches on in his post (learning Biblical Greek and all the demands of reading and writing), but he also has a gift for articulating some of its advantages:
The benefits of being dyslexic are based on the dyslexic person thinking in concepts and pictures rather than words. I see things and then describe them. And so, structural organisational thinking, forward strategic thinking, having a
sense of where things are and addressing needs appropriately, all these things come easily. When it comes to the bible I see patterns and connections in scripture. I find easy to see links between the situation on the ground in the Epistles, the flow of the arguments or theology of the letter and it’s application to the present.
Although it is tempting, because of time, to drop word based ministry, I am determined to stick with expository preaching and so when I prepare a sermon my preparation goes like this:
- read the context of the passage
- do my exegesis (translating Greek when NT) using text flow diagrams and lots of colour
- find the theme and aim sentences
- develop a sermon structure
- mind map it and write my talk in mind map software
- convert the mind map into a full text
- use my text to speech software to read my sermon to me
- edit it
- produce the final version with lots of colour on each page (blue, red and black work for me)”
Likely many thoughtful dyslexic adults, Robbie also sees where he falls short, but he takes inspiration from “2 Corinthians 2:17. For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.