[A] few years ago, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton wrote a wonderful book called “Now, Discover Your Strengths.” This bestselling book helps you identify your core strengths so you can focus on building upon your unique talents. I love personal inventory books like this because I’m a life-long learner. (“Learner” is part of my StrengthsFinder profile.) StrengthsFinder by Tom Gath was the followup companion book. Both are excellent books and both sit on my shelf. But what would happen if you were strolling through a Barnes & Noble and your eyes fell upon a book entitled: Now, Discover Your Weakness or it’s companion book, WeaknessFinder? Would you pick it up? Flip through the pages? I don’t know about you, but I’d avoid those books like a coiled rattlesnake. I don’t need a book to identify all my weaknesses. Got that covered, thank you. But what if you found a book that promised to make your weakness your beautiful strength? Read on…
Would you even dare to call your most personal weakness your beautiful strength?
Don’t worry…I won’t dig for dirt here. We will not make this the Oprahficated-Celebrity-Confessional our society seeks for all things salacious and scandalous. (Who says people are no longer thrown to the lions?) I am not concerned about knowing your weakness (or you knowing mine…my wife, kids and friends have that covered) as I am in both us us experiencing the truth God’s promise: Your weakness can become your beautiful strength.
If you and I sat down in Barnes and Noble for a cup of coffee to get to know one another for the first time, we probably wouldn’t crack open WeaknessFinder or share what we loved about Now, Discover Your Weakness. Naahh. I would be much more content and comfortable answering your questions about my family, my work, mutual acquaintances and the things I like to do. Keep it at the surface level. Keep it safe. Very safe.
I’ll speak for myself here, but all too often, I am more concerned about making a good first impression than I am revealing that I know I am a desperate sinner in daily need of God’s love, grace, forgiveness and restoration. And I mean daily.
I don’t think I’m alone here because, in many ways, we live in a religious church culture (Note to self: dead religion) that is more concerned with giving the impression that we are good, strong and moral Christians. And don’t get me wrong, these are great and strong and noble things to strive for. Strength and weakness are two sides of the same coin or should we say, our human nature. But, we have to look at what our starting point is. And that begins with what’s inside our hearts.
When I made the decision to become a follower of Jesus when I was sixteen, it wasn’t because the Bible convinced me I was good. No, THAT BOOK (also available in Barnes & Noble) and the whisper of the Holy Spirit convinced my heart that I was separated from God because of my weakness. My sin; not my strength. I was no different than the countless sinners who reached out to Jesus in the Gospels when they stood in the midst of his overwhelming holiness and goodness. I wanted then, as I do now, all the goodness of Jesus because I want true life. I want real, authentic relationship with the living God. Not a pasty religious substitute bent on nit-picking-rule-keeping.
When you and I read about Paul and his thorn in the flesh, oh my goodness! Didn’t he know anything about making a good first impression? His boldness about his weakness is so blatant, so out there, bordering on “oversharing.” Paul’s openness is, well, it’s amazing. It’s beautiful, but he shares scant “details” about his weakness.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ‘s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV84)
Have you ever stopped to consider that your weakness is your beautiful strength? Your worst weakness, the very thing that grieves you the most about yourself, is the very place where God wants you to experience the richness of his lavish grace. You are the Beloved of God in spite of your weakness. Your weakness is the place where God’s power is the strongest.
Maybe God has a reason He doesn’t fix or heal or change all of our weaknesses at once? What if we were always strong? Independent? Not needing anyone? That sounds awfully American, but it doesn’t sound like Christianity.
The Bible I read is filled with people who knew they weren’t strong. They needed God’s strength. His grace and His power. He made their weakness a beautiful strength. When you are weak, in Christ, then you are strong.
And that’s your beautiful strength.
Questions: How have you found God’s grace, strength and power in your weakness? How does this result in freedom, forgiveness and gratefulness in your life?
I’d love your comments and questions.