I’ve seen a lot of values listed by churches. Most of them sound lofty. I’ve only seen weakness listed as a value by a church once. The church is Holy Trinity Chicago, and this is what they say:
Irony of Weakness
While common wisdom places a high value on strength, our church is learning to live in weakness. Why? Because when we are weak, we are actually strong. You might call it the irony of weakness: God uses humble, reliant people. Weakness is divinely intended for us by God. Indeed, a life of dependence on the Holy Spirit, of devotion in prayer and a willingness to suffer for Christ is a beautiful life. So we value dependence on the Spirit rather than dependence on self. We value prayer, which is the opposite of pride and self-sufficiency. And though we do not seek out suffering we know that it is a part of a gospel-centered life. Our true strength is in Jesus Christ!
I love the three implications listed in this definition:
- Weakness implies dependence on the Holy Spirit. Ministry is not simply a matter of best practices. It is a spiritual enterprise. As Francis Schaeffer said, “And as Christians, we too must comprehend something of our need for spiritual power. If we think we can operate on our own, if we do not comprehend the need for a power beyond our own, we will never get started” (No Little People).
- Weakness implies devotion in prayer. When we comprehend that we are weak, we turn away from pride and self-sufficiency to our true source of power. A prayerless life is a life that fails to recognize my true condition.
- Weakness implies a willingness to suffer. The illusion of strength and an unwillingness to suffer go together. Weak people, it seems, are less surprised by suffering. Ajith Fernando writes, “In a world where physical health, appearance, and convenience have gained almost idolatrous prominence, God may be calling Christians to demonstrate the glory of the gospel by being joyful and content while enduring pain and hardship.”
It’s been years since I noticed that Holy Trinity values weakness. I’m not sure if any other churches have included it in their list of values, but perhaps many more should.