Your weakness are not an accident. God deliberately allowed them in your life for the purpose of demonstrating His power through you. What a statement! It’s liberating to know that my weaknesses aren’t something to be ashamed of but that they were always destined to be part of who I am.
Today’s chapter of Purpose Driven Life deals with our weaknesses and why we have them. I hope you enjoy this post – we’re nearly at the end of the book!
A weakness, or ‘thorn’ as Paul called it, is not a sin or a vice or a character defect that you can change, such as overeating or impatience. A weakness is any limitation that you inherited or have no power to change. When you think of the limitation in your ilfe, you may be tempted to conclude, “God could never use me.” But God is never limited by our limitations. In fact, He enjoys putting His great power into ordinary containers. God will use us if we allow Him to work through our weaknesses. For that to happen, we must follow the model of Paul:
- Admit your weaknesses. Own up to your imperfections. Stop pretending to have it all together and be honest about yourself. If you want God to use you, you must know who God is and who you are. We’re only human!
- Be content with your weaknesses. Paul said, “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses.” Paul gives us several reasons to be content with our inborn weaknesses. First, they cause use to depend on God. Our weaknesses also prevent arrogance. They keep us humble. Our weaknesses also encourage fellowship between believers. Most of all, our weaknesses increase our capacity for sympathy and ministry.
- Honestly share your weaknesses. Ministry begins with vulnerability. Paul modelled vulnerability in his letters. He openly shared his failures (“When I want to do good, I don’t and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway”), his feelings (“I have told you all my feelings”), his frustrations (“We were crushed and completely over whelmed and we thought we would never live through it”) and his fears (“When I came to you, I was weak and fearful and trembling”). At some point in your life you must decide whether you want to impress people or influence people. You can impress people from a distance but you must get close to influence them and when you do that, they will be able to see your flaws. That’s okay. The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection but credibility. People must be able to trust you, or they won’t follow you. How do you build credibility? Not by pretending to be perfect but by being honest.
- Glory in your weaknesses. Instead of posing as self-confident and invincible, see yourself as a trophy of grace. When Satan points out your weaknesses, agree with him and fill your heart with praise for Jesus, who “understands every weakness of ours” and for the Holy Spirit, who “helps us in our weakness.” Sometimes, however, God turns a strength into a weakness in order to use us even more. Jacob was a manipulator who spent his life scheming and then running from the consequences. One night he wrestled with God and said, “I’m not letting go until you bless me.” God said, “All right,” but then he grabbed Jacob’s thigh and dislocated his hip. God touched Jacob’s strength and turned it into weakness. From that day forward, Jacob walked with a limp so he could never run away again. It forced him to lean on God whether he like it or not. If you want God to bless you and use you greatly, you must be willing to walk with a limp the rest of your life, because God uses weak people.
That last line expresses an amazing thought. If I want God to bless and use me greatly, I must be willing to walk with a limp for the rest of my life. That’s not exactly what I was hoping for. It’s easy to get caught up in the assumption that one day, in the future, when I have loads of money and am doing some amazing thing for God, that all my struggles will have dissappeared; my insecurities eliminated, my inadequacies dealt with. Perhaps that’s not the case..
When I first read the sentence I was a bit disappointed, “So you mean I have to have these struggles for the rest of my life God?” It didn’t take me long to realise that it’s actually a wonderful realisation. Firstly, when we’ve given our weaknesses to God, He has a way of making them seem not so bad afterall. More importantly, it means that there’s no reason any one of us can’t be out there living life to the fullest, doing everything God created us to do – right now!
How do you feel about the fact that you may have to limp through life with some of your weaknesses forever intact? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
PLEASE NOTE: Quotations in this and other posts relating to The Purpose Driven Life (usually entitled Day:?) are sourced from The Purpose Driven Life book by Rick Warren unless otherwise stated. This is an independant study and is based on my opinion and experience only. Copies of The Purpose Driven Life book are available for purchase from all good christian books stores, including Koorong. The first seven chapters of the book can be downloaded FREE from Rick Warren’s official site here.