I’ve been thinking about weakness lately. Frankly it is a subject I’d rather avoid. Perhaps the most dreaded question in an interview or a reference is about weakness. We usually try and blow past the question with socially acceptable weaknesses like “being a workaholic” or “being impatient.” We’d rather emphasize our strengths but Scripture doesn’t let us ignore weakness. In fact, I believe Scripture actually celebrates and calls us to weakness.
Think about how Jesus tells us we have to be like little children if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven. I know we like to think about how trusting children are, but the fact is children are also weak and powerless, and that is what we have to be like if we want to enter God’s kingdom. Think about how Hebrews 11:34 mentions that the heroes of faith had their “weakness turned to strength.” Think about Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 saying he will boast all the more gladly about his weakness so that Christ’s power may rest on him. As Paul tells us, Christ’s power “is made perfect in weakness.”
So, based on all this, we better not blow past our weaknesses as individuals or as a church. Thus what is your weakness? How is Christ’s power being made perfect in the midst of that weakness? How can, and should, you actually boast in that weakness? There is some nuance here. Weakness must be distinguished from sin. The workaholism and impatience I mentioned above are actually sins. An example of weakness in Paul’s life that he seemed to boast about was that he wasn’t a great speaker or preacher. Acts 20 records Paul’s preaching as putting Eutychus to sleep! So neither Paul nor Scripture hold back from owning that. But notice that this weakness didn’t hold Paul back from speaking and preaching. More importantly look how God’s power was made perfect in the midst of this weakness as many were led to Christ through his speaking, preaching, and writing much of the New Testament.
Playing this out in my life, I know I’m weak when it comes to “mobilizing.” This is a little ironic, given my great hope for ministry is “the Church fully mobilized.” But then again, perhaps it is God’s great grace to me, for it is owning this, and even “boasting” in this, that opens the opportunity for Christ’s power to rest on me. It is a step of faith, acknowledging God can mobilize the church without me, and when and how God does mobilize the Church (He already is in so many ways!) He gets all the praise that is rightly His. Friends, what is your weakness? Own it! Boast in it! And watch God’s power work in and through it to the praise of His name.
Jon Heeringa is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church.