The Blessing of Weakness

It has been said, never show your weaknesses, mainly because it will be used against you. The fact is, everybody has weaknesses. We have physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual weaknesses, so the question is, what do you do with your weaknesses?

While most people deny, defend, or excuse their weaknesses, Christians can embrace them and ask God to use them! When God works through weak people, His power is shown more clearly (2 Corinthians 12:5, 9, 1 Corinthians 9:22, Hebrews 4:15, 11:34).

When I use the word weakness, I’m not talking about a character flaw that can and should be changed. A weakness is any limitation in my life I inherited or can’t change. How do you lead your small group through weaknesses that you didn’t ask for and don’t have the ability to change?

1. Admit Your Weaknesses: In other words, stop pretending to have it all together, stop hoping the weaknesses will go away, stop ignoring them, and stop making excuses and blaming others (which only hurts my credibility in the end).

2. Be Grateful for Your Weaknesses: The limitations God allows in our lives are actually blessings in disguise (remember that Laura Story song on K-Love). Our limitations guarantee that God will show up to help. If I can do things in my own strength, the ultimate conclusion is, “Who needs God?”

Weaknesses also prevent me from becoming arrogant, and nothing will limit my effectiveness in leading a small group more than arrogance.

3. Openly Share Your Weaknesses: This is what is called being vulnerable. By sharing my weaknesses I am admitting that there are limits to my knowledge, my ability, and my energy.

Being open is also very risky (which is why we seek to avoid it at all cost). There will be people in your small group or the church at large who don’t want you to be human. They think a teacher is some super Christian and can’t handle knowing about any weaknesses. They’d rather put a halo on you and pretend you are never tempted and that you’re above the negative realities of life.

Refusing to be vulnerable is dishonest and hypocritical, but even worse, it sets up a scenario in which people become disillusioned with Christians when one’s humanness eventually shows – and it always will.

Why is it so important to reveal your feelings? Here are seven reasons:

  1. It liberates you from the stress of keeping up a false image.
  2. Some faults won’t be dealt with until you confess them to others.
  3. You can’t experience grace without weaknesses and you can’t minister and teach others without grace.
  4. It’s the fastest way to endear yourself to others. People will seek to support you and pray for you.
  5. Honesty supports your credibility, and people only follow leaders they trust.
  6. It’s good for the group. It encourages others to throw away their masks, deal with their own weaknesses.
  7. It helps your teaching to speak to others with transparency.

When you share your strengths, you create competition.
When you share your weaknesses, you create community.

So what do you share? As you think about how you will relate and communicate to others this week, think about how you will share these five things:

  • Failures.
  • Feelings.
  • Faults.
  • Frustrations.
  • Fears.

Your humanity is actually one of your greatest assets in your teaching ministry. To deny your humanity is not only dumb, it decreases your effectiveness. Do you want to be used by God? Do you want his blessing on your ministry? Do you want people to give the glory to God? Walk in total dependence on God and embrace your weaknesses!

[print_link] [email_link] Modified from Rick Warren

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The Counselor’s Vulnerability

Not every client will be honest and cooperative, and some will be deceptive and manipulative and have a desire to frustrate the counselor. There are two major ways people will attempt to frustrate the counselor:

  1. Manipulation: Some people are masters of getting their own way by controlling others. Sessions might lengthen and become more frequent; one counselor even began to running errands, making phone calls and giving small loans for the counselee, who consistently expressed gratitude and mournfully asked for more. These people have made manipulation a way of life. The counselor must ask, “Am I being manipulated?” “Am I going beyond my responsibilities as a counselor?” “What does the counselee expect from me, or really want?” One must deal with the manipulation and expect their denial of it, then restructure the counseling in a way that prevents this manipulation and exploitation of the counselor in the future.
  2. Resistance: Many people want quick relief, and when they discover it will take time and commitment on their part, they begin to resist. Resistance is a problem that often requires in-depth professional counseling. When a counselor begins to work, a client’s psychological defences are threatened and this leads to anger, anxiety and non-cooperation. When clients are fairly well-adjusted, this resistance can be discussed gently and openly. The client needs to know that he (not the counselor) is ultimately responsible for his improvement.

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The Sad Goodbye

Paul intentionally sails past Ephesus and requests the elders to meet him in Miletus (Acts 20:15, 16). There was a deep affection for the people in Ephesus and their leaders. When they met, notice the attention he pays to them:

You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. (Acts 20:18-20)

He was attentive to them because he became involved with them emotionally and spiritually. They saw his humility, which is the confession of sin and a deep realization of his unworthiness to receive God’s grace. He was open about his past. They also saw his heart, not hiding the pain of his hardships and the risk he took in developing friendships with others. They knew Paul was genuine.

Paul held nothing back (Acts 20:27) but preached the whole message God wanted them to know, even the hardships of being a follower of Christ. He even told them about his immediate future and going to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22, 23). Paul had been warned about what lay ahead for him, but was drawn toward the mission like a moth to a lamp. If he received such opposition in all these other cities, why would Jerusalem be an exception?

Paul has an assumption, too. He believed he would never see the Ephesians again, you can see this as you read the whole farewell speech (Acts 20:38).

Paul also had one ambition, one life verse that kept him going (Acts 20:24), that he would finished the race and complete the task God had given him. Nothing would move him off course.

Fear is a powerful tool, but Paul’s love for Christ and others far exceeded his fear of suffering and death. He knew the task was given to him, and he was not supposed to finish the task given to Barnabas, Peter or Timothy. I am reminded of Paul’s challenge in Ephesians 2:10, that we are His workmanship created for good works, which God prepared in advance. God desires for us to encourage others (Hebrews 10:24, 25) but we are responsible for completing our own task.

Now Paul gives them an admonition, to expect wolves to creep into the fold and devour the flock (Acts 20:25-31). They are told to guard two groups, “themselves and God’s people” (Acts 20:28). One cannot guard others if you cannot guard yourself. The word used to “keep watch” or to guard is prosecho, a nautical term that means to veer off course. Leaders cannot lead people beyond where they themselves have been led. Leaders can have a difficult time staying on course, and can even get caught up in sinful activity, but the admonition of Paul is to stay on course.

The only way to stay on course is to know the Word of God. In Acts 20:30 Paul tells them that men will rise up and distort the truth; twisting it to suit themselves, just like Adam and Eve back in the Garden (Genesis 3:1).

Paul also showed his affection for them (Acts 20:36-38). This same Paul taught that love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8 NASB), perhaps at this moment he would also testify that love never fails to hurt. We become vulnerable when we choose to enter into relationships. It is a risky thing to open yourself up to the potential hurt that can come when we genuinely care for another person. Was it hard for Paul to leave them? Just read the opening verse of the next chapter (Acts 21:1 NIV). I think that Luke, who was waiting on the boat (Acts 20:13), had to literally go ashore to tear Paul away from them.

Application: Are you willing to make friendships that go beyond discussions about the weather or football? In what ways are you sharing life with other people, and I’m not talking about spending time at work with co-workers (unless you’re intentionally investing time as well as emotional and spiritual energy into the relationship). Do you talk about the deep things of life, marriage, raising children, God’s plan, and God’s will? Take a risk and invest yourself into another man until he is ready to invest himself into the life of another man. Who sees your humility and who knows your heart? With whom are you holding back? Have you discovered the task God has given to you, and to you alone? Express that to someone else today. Have you embraced a life verse that keeps you on track? Have you veered off course and need to get back on course? With whom are you accountable and therefore have guarded your life from the enemy?

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Church and Community

People today need a place to belong before they come to believe. The church is the body of Christ gathered for worship, fellowship, discipleship and missions. We grow in Christ together, not separated from one another. Many believers would like to recapture what the early church experienced, but how? It takes being real, and vulnerable, taking off the mask and connecting to another person at a meaningful level. This sounds very risky; are you willing to take the risk?


A striking feature of worship in the Bible is that people gathered in what we would call “holy expectancy.” They believed that they would actually hear the voice of God. It was not surprising to them that the building in which they met shook with the power of God. — Richard Foster

Rather than growing bigger churches, we should be concerned with growing bigger Christians. — Rich Mullins

In the essentials-unity; in the non-essentials-freedom; in all things-love. — John Wesley

Top 10 Ways to Build Community:

  1. Use self-disclosure to get real.
  2. Listen more than you talk.
  3. Ask good questions to uncover meaning.
  4. Have fun! Don’t make everything overtly spiritual.
  5. Use your spiritual gifts to encourage others.
  6. Balance activity inward, outward and upward.
  7. Serve those outside your community as a community.
  8. Share the significant issues of your past.
  9. Probe one another’s dreams for the future.
  10. Love one another practically and consistently.

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