Pastor Steve Miller defined weakness as “any limitation you can’t change by yourself.” That definition gives hope. Weaknesses limit but possibility for improvement exists.
The best way to overcome weaknesses is to admit and acknowledge them. So, here goes! Shyness has holds me back in a variety of ways, including connecting with others. Lack of spontaneity causes me to miss out on adventures with my husband and kids. My struggles with patience and perfectionism make pleasing me very difficult. The list continues, unfortunately, but these are the big ones.
Considering my own weaknesses, while not pleasant to acknowledge within and then admit outwardly, takes me down a path of self-evaluation that will hopefully result in improvements in my life.
My instincts and automatic “flesh” reactions with regard to my weaknesses depends on how my physical self feels. Am I hungry? tired? stressed? If any of those conditions exist, and all too often they all exist at once, my weaknesses consume me, and I retreat safely into the places where they protect me. Shyness means not being hurt by others. Sticking to a plan keeps me from the unknown. Impatience and perfectionism allow me to control others in an attempt to create my version of an ordered life. They create a comfort zone that protects my fragile self-esteem. And, unfortunately, one that also keeps me from growing spiritually.
Walking With a Limp
Jacob walked with a limp, and it served as a reminder of His encounter with God (Genesis 32:22-32). Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Our weaknesses can also remind us of our dependence on God and can counteract the dangerous state of independence. Both Jacob and Paul moved forward, depending on God for strength even in the face of weakness. What Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 helps us understand the strength that comes from walking with a limp.
“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, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Want the power of God to dominate your life? Acknowledge the weaknesses in your life, and let Him be glorified as you limp through life.
Weaknesses Provide Opportunity
Weaknesses result from being “earthen vessels.” But, weaknesses also allow for the “surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Our weaknesses can keep us from doing God’s will and growing spiritually, but they can also motivate us to keep in daily contact with Him as we learn to rely on Him to overcome the limitations of our weaknesses. God overcomes my shyness by allowing me to teach others. Every time I get in front of a group of people to speak and teach, the overwhelming presence of His power reminds me that in and of myself I am completely incapable.
Ministry opportunities also increase when we become aware of our weaknesses and allow God to use them. Weaknesses connect us with others with similar weaknesses, making us more relatable and authentic. This can’t happen if weaknesses remain unnamed. My oldest son has a personality very similar to mine, shy and introverted. His current struggle with popularity and fitting in remind me of my own struggles over 20 years ago. Because we have this same weakness and because I have walked longer with this thorn than he has, I am now able to minister to him out of my weakness. Perhaps doing so will lead him to dependence on God a lot sooner than it did me. For this reason and purpose, I rejoice that shyness makes me weak.
Weaknesses Promote Fellowship
As we become more aware of our weaknesses, we also become more aware of those who can help us in those areas. God works through others in amazing ways, including through balancing each other through strengths and weaknesses. While shyness, lack of patience and not being spontaneous represent some of the strongest areas of weakness in my life, they also represent the areas in which my husband holds tremendous strengths. He balances me and at the same time challenges me to not let my weaknesses limit my ministry and my witness.
In addition, knowing our own weaknesses helps us to not undervalue weaknesses in others. When I see others struggling with their weaknesses, whether similar or not to my own, I find myself rooting and praying for them instead of being critical of their failures. This fails to happen when I fail to acknowledge and admit my own weaknesses. Instead, I take my weaknesses, project them on others, and then see them as tremendous character flaws. For this reason, I know to look for what bothers me most about others within myself. Chances are, where I am critical of others indicates weaknesses I am failing to address in myself.
Being strong enough to admit you are weak means realizing that you need the power of God in your life. It means understanding that these weaknesses will not go away, that we really don’t want them to, and that only the power of God can turn them into great triumphs. The key again likes with acknowledging them within and admitting them without. Then we must then do our part, and our part is to let God do His part.
DISCUSSION: When you examine the areas you are most critical about in others, do you see those as weaknesses in yourself? This post illustrates a tremendous struggle with even articulating how weaknesses work in my life. Do you find that same struggle to be true in your own life?