The ABC has recently been running a series called ‘Employable Me’ on TV. It’s a show about helping people with disabling neurological conditions like Autism or Tourette’s Syndrome to find employment. It’s an uplifting, warm and insightful series which draws on science and experts to uncover people’s hidden skills and to match jobseekers to roles that can harness and illustrate their strengths. We all want to belong. That’s what this show is about: striving to belong and play your part. The series looks beyond first impressions to reveal there’s always more than meets the eye.
Most of the people on the show have little or no work history and they yearn to find employment so that they can live independently and use their skills in ways that most of us take for granted. It’s heartening to watch the professionals who seek to help these people find work and to see the employers and workplaces who give them a go.
The show provides insight into each person’s life situation and to who they are. Participants are warm, funny and generously open. Each story is told from a character’s own perspective and follows their determination. Neuro-psych testing by experts establishes their skill sets, revealing in some an astounding cognitive brilliance amongst the participants with job searching resulting in some truly surprising results.
It’s wonderful to watch these people grow in confidence and sometimes successfully obtain paid employment. You see that’s the big message of this show, yes these people have a disability, but they also have abilities, gifts and strengths. Do we focus on the disability or the ability. There’s a quote going around on Facebook which is attributed to Albert Einstein “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Mitch Larkin has won five Gold Medals at the Commonwealth Games, all in swimming, four swimming backstroke over distances of 50, 100, 200 metres. No-one suggests that he was no good because didn’t compete in any track and field events he should stop swimming and turn his attention to these obvious weaknesses. No-one suggests he take up football or tennis.
Mitch Larkin worked on his strengths, built on what he was good at, what he was gifted in. There were other people who were gifted in other strokes, events and sports. Together they were a team.
The apostle Paul thought that a good church community was like a human body, made up of many members and each with different gifts. “The body does not consist of one member but of many”, he said. “If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?“
We owe it to ourselves and those we love to find our gifts and grow them.
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister