Often, as a control freak, we do a great job of highlighting our strengths. There are some things we do very well and we feel great about that. We can discuss our strengths in detail, we know just how to place ourselves in position to maximize our gifts and talents and we feel best when we are working in capacities that best align with our skill sets. Something we often shy away from addressing, is our weakness. Even in job interviews we have learned and mastered the answer to the question “what are some of your strengths and weaknesses?” turning both into answers highlighting things we do well. That’s all good. There’s nothing wrong with finding comfort in your gifts and talents. When you do something well and you know you do it well, there’s no question you should be using those to to your advantage and to the advantage of those around you.
But what happens when we get a little too high and mighty? As much as we like to avoid the conversation, there isn’t a person living who doesn’t have a weakness. There is no person living who is the best at everything and that’s exactly how God intended for us to be. We should all be living and serving in complimentary fashion alongside others, using our strengths were someone else may have a weakness and vice a versa.
Too many times we are taught that being a Christian is to strive for perfection. That is not the case at all. We are to strive to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We are incapable of perfection. God knows that and has extended us grace in the areas where we are lacking.
There is a place in the bible where Paul is speaking and he’s telling of a wonder vision God gave him. He says that the vision was so clear and he was so sure that it was from God, if he bragged about it, it would be warranted because it would be truth. However, he says that even having been exposed to such greatness, he was given what he calls a thorn. He had a supposed ailment that kept him humble. Whenever he started to feel himself, he was reminded that he’s not perfect, he has a weakness. The best part about his realization that his weakness would keep him from thinking of himself more highly than he should is what he said about how God regarded his weakness each time he asked God to take it away.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12: 8-9
Paul had a weakness that he felt like was hindering him so he asked God to take it away. Instead, God told him grace was all he needed. God basically said to him, I see your weakness and I haven’t counted you out. You’re still valuable to me, I see you trying so wherever you fall short, I will stand in that gap and be sure that the vision I gave you is still fulfilled. Here’s the best part, “My power works best in weakness.” God is able to get really creative when there’s literally nothing else in our own physical power left for us to do. That’s so amazing! So Paul encourages us not to be ashamed of our weaknesses. He even says to take pleasure in them. Because as soon as we recognize we are incapable of doing anymore than we have tried, we can show God we trust God to do the rest and God will also take pleasure in that and leave you and everyone around you wondering how you could have possibly pulled that off. And that’s where you tell them, it wasn’t me, that was all God.
Here’s something I started doing about 4 years ago. I would have ideas or goals that I knew for sure God was inspiring me toward but I kept running into roadblocks. There were skills, resources, connections etc that I just didn’t have. I would get so frustrated feeling so powerless to certain situations. But I’d say this prayer, “God, I know you see me trying and I just don’t think there’s anything else I can do. If I’m missing something, please reveal it to me. If not, please work this out in a way that I won’t possibly be able to take credit for. So when people ask me how I did it, I’ll remember to tell them it was you. In Jesus’ name, amen.” At a time when I had no idea how I was going to pay for graduate school, I applied to school and then prayed that prayer every night. A month before school was supposed to begin, I was offered a job AND a scholarship, neither of which I had applied for. I have no doubt in my mind it was that desperate prayer and my willingness to acknowledge my weakness and have faith that God would work things out that excited God to stand somewhere I had never been on my behalf. If you’re reading this and you feel powerless to any situation at all, I challenge you to pray that prayer or your own prayer with that same sentiment and watch what God can and will do!