By David Wise
Personal weakness is not something we like to admit or talk about. As we talked about obedience in weakness yesterday it was necessary to think through my past and process weakness in my life, but as soon as the sermon was done then it was time to move on to the next chapter and a new theme or concept. Except that isn’t happening. As we’ll discover this week in chapter 8 of The Story, obedience in weakness is a continuing theme and will run throughout the Bible as a whole.
Weakness is not bad, it’s just uncomfortable and difficult to be open and vulnerable about. I’ve talked about it before, but weakness is one of those things that we’re willing to admit after the fact. We share a weakness that we used to have (even I was guilty of that in yesterday’s sermon), but sharing weakness as we’re struggling against it is not often bridged as a topic. The truth is though, I am currently weak.
Whether it’s self-induced stress, worrying about everything, discouragement, frustration, or bitterness, I am struggling constantly in my weakness. Even today I have felt discouraged and I can’t figure out why. Usually I would sink into a mild depression and hide that fact from everyone around me, but today I decided to reach out to some friends and simply ask for prayer. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to ask for prayer about discouragement and depression, but even that simply task is hard for me. I think that as a pastor sometimes I’m supposed to have it all together, but I don’t and the sooner I can share that with those around me the sooner God can work through my weakness.
By sharing the need for prayer in the midst of my current weakness, I was forced to take down my own walls and admit where I’m at right now and I had to acknowledge that I can’t do this on my own. That was a small example of what needs to happen more often and on a larger scale. I realized that I don’t admit my weaknesses very often, and even if I admit them I don’t allow God to work on them.
To work through weakness, the first step seems to be acknowledging those weaknesses. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is the most constant weaknesses that I’m faced against. I struggle with discontentment constantly: there were distractions during the morning or things didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped and the sermon didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would, the church hasn’t grown enough and I wonder if I’m the reason new people aren’t coming or staying, I still snap at the kids over little things and feel defeated as a father, I don’t support Natalye like I want to and make her feel devalued, I don’t feel like a good enough friend, a caring enough pastor, and the list goes on and on.
Those are not past weakness, they are current ones and they are difficult to admit, but trying to hide from them (or simply hiding them from others) does not solve anything. I’m learning that as I acknowledge my weaknesses (both to God and to others) that the Lord comes alongside me and provides His power to cover my weakness. God also uses those around me to help me work through those things. This isn’t just a theory but something I’ve seen recently as I’m learning to bring my power to an end and to rest in my weakness.
Over the past few weeks as I’ve opened up about weaknesses I’ve seen God bring people alongside me to help with my shortcomings. At times it’s been the elders who are constantly helping me be a better pastor, the staff who have stepped up to take responsibilities in areas where they are stronger and more proficient, my friends who are faithful to listen and pray through things with me, and the congregation who is much more graceful and loving than I deserve. I’m learning that when I acknowledge my weaknesses that people don’t lose respect and trust for me but they seem to find comfort in knowing that I’m human but also it becomes an incredible opportunity for different people to minister in their strengths and above all God is glorified through the process.
Whatever it is about our society that devalues weakness needs to change and allow people to acknowledge their weaknesses. Until we’re able to be vulnerable and open, we’ll walk around thinking we’re the only ones who don’t have it all together and we’ll continually fail while trying to make things happen in our own power. God is capable of working through the weak and when we allow Him to work in us and through us in our weakness then God is able to receive all glory, honor, and praise. Thank God that I am weak and praise God that He is strong.