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!

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How to Fulfill Your Calling

I am participating in the Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership event at Regent University this Friday (November 5), so I was already thinking about leadership. I was recently reminded about Isaiah 1:19, which has always been one of my favorite leadership Scriptures. The NIV says it this way, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”

Add the next verse in Peterson’s paraphrase and we get this, “If you’ll willingly obey, you’ll feast like kings. But if you’re willful and stubborn, you’ll die like dogs. That’s right. God says so” (The Message) – Isaiah 1:19-20.

The word eat means satisfied, fulfilled, content, and to enjoy. I suppose that is something all of us want out of life. Sometimes I read on Facebook where a friend might say, “I love my life,” but can I honestly say that? Or do I allow disappointments, stress or unrealistic expectations to distract me from the pure pleasure of ministry; serving God and others?

This verse promises we can live fulfilled, enjoyable lives. But there’s a catch! First, we must be willing and obedient; willing to do things God’s way and be obedient to His leadership. As a leader (or parent, spouse, boss, deacon, employee, worship leader, children’s teacher, or whatever) we must be willing to do things that others are not doing. It sort of comes with the territory. Leaders do what is necessary to get the job done, not looking for credit or passing blame.We see a need and we do whatever it takes to meet that need.

The question then becomes, “When others criticize, or disappoint, or abandon you, are you still willing to let God shape you through His refining process?” In other words, are you willing to be stretched? Are you willing to do things that you know are beyond your abilities. Wait a minute! If we do things beyond our abilities, it seems that we are allowing God to work through us; using our weaknesses for His glory and His kingdom. It’s hard to boast about ourselves when there is no doubt that God accomplished the task (through us).

Consider 1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace … will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Being stretched by God means you will:

  1. Be uncomfortable: allow God to push you beyond your comfort zone, forced to grow, change, and be vulnerable to others.
  2. Give up your rights: to be offended, to not forgive, to be right, to judge, to not care or walk away when things get tough.
  3. Discipline your flesh: change your habits, introduce new disciplines, deal with stress in a healthy manner.
  4. Only do now that which you can live with tomorrow: always keep the big picture in mind, even when you want to react to the moment.
  5. Turn your back on the ordinary: accept the fact that God has extraordinary things for you, and be willing to take steps of faith in that direction.

To fulfill our calling as leaders, we don’t have the luxury of staying the same lovable person we are today! Remember that while this stretching ultimately glorifies God in our lives; our fulfillment and enjoyment comes as we are better able to impact others for the Kingdom.

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How to Avoid Burnout

I’ve been studying the life of Paul over the past couple of months and wanted to pass on this information, perhaps you can relate:

Life is so busy these days, family, work, church, and we try to schedule a little time for leisure activities. As in any church, there is a large group of people who do a tremendous amount of volunteering. While many serve with joy, we can easily move toward burnout and lose that joy, forgetting the purpose we serve in the first place. I have discovered from Paul that the best time to deal with burnout is before you burnout. Take a look at Second Corinthians chapter four where Paul tells us how to go the distance.

Remember God’s mercy and don’t lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1): God has given us our particular ministries. We don’t have to prove our worth through our ministry, and we don’t have to wallow in our mistakes. It is God who calls and gives us strength.

Be truthful and honest in all you do (2 Corinthians 4:2): Maintain our integrity because integrity produces power in life. Guilt zaps your energy. You need to finish with your character intact. Your integrity includes how you handle the Word of God. Don’t distort it or make it confusing. Don’t serve others out of guilt.

Be motivated to work for Jesus’ sake, not out of selfish desires (2 Corinthians 4:5): We need the right motivation to serve others. We have to start as servants and end as servants, not celebrities, like people can see all that we do for God. We need to learn to live our lives for an audience of one, and that one is Jesus Christ, our only motivation.

Realize that Christians are only human (2 Corinthians 4:7): We must accept our limitations. The quickest way to burn out is to try to be Superman. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses, and recognizing that we don’t need to do everything in order to be faithful. Pace yourself for the important things, not just the urgent things.

Develop a true love for others (2 Corinthians 4:15): Churches and believers thrive, grow, and survive when love is present. We must love the people we serve or we won’t last in the ministry God has for us. Love even covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

Allow time for inward rejuvenation (2 Corinthians 4:16): Serving others can be hard and take a lot out of us, so it is important to allow the inner person to be renewed. Take time for reflection, solitude, reading and prayer.

Stay focused on the important things (2 Corinthians 4:17-18): Let’s keep our eyes on the goal, not the difficulties we might encounter. I’ve heard it said that only God who sees the invisible can achieve the impossible. To be a winner in this marathon of faithful service, we need trust God and press on even when things don’t make sense.

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