Like you, I’m a fan of being strong. I love all this talk about crushing your goals and building a strong week. I always enjoy being competent and having my life fairly together. It’s how I thought I would live most of my life.
It turns out that life’s not like that. The past few years I’ve been learning lots about weakness. It hasn’t come easily for me, but I’ve had to learn how to acknowledge my limits. My weaknesses have been on display. It almost seems that God has been working to strip me of any pretense that I have it all together.
This past year, as we went through another round of confronting our weaknesses, my wife said something profound to me. What if our weaknesses aren’t a distraction from ministry? What if our weaknesses are actually part of the way God wants to use us in ministry? I know this conceptually, but I haven’t always been great at remembering it when I’m weak.
I’d always thought you have to be strong to be a church planter. What if weakness is actually part of God’s plan for church planters, and for ministry in general?
With that in mind, I was encouraged to discover that the last chapter in the Sonship training manual. Sonship is “designed to help you take some of the glorious theological truths of the gospel – truths that you may know in your head – and apply them to the nitty gritty reality of daily life.”
The last chapter is called “Weakness Evangelism”, and it includes this paragraph:
The most important thing about repenting and living by faith as a child of God is that dependence on God gives him glory and provides us an opportunity to experience closeness with him. But it also seems admitting our weakness before God and being willing to fail in front of people is an invitation to experience closeness with them.
This completely changes our posture when it comes to evangelism in particular, and ministry in general.
The key to evangelism and ministry, it turns out, isn’t that I am strong and a never-ending source of competence and strength. It is that I have discovered a gospel for weak people like me, and that I am living in a strength that is not my own. I don’t have to pretend, because there is no need to pretend. It isn’t that I have my life together; it is that I am experiencing God’s power and strength in the middle of my own struggles and sanctification. I don’t approach others from a position of strength; I approach others with the sense that we are alike in our sinfulness and our weaknesses, and that we both can find all the grace we need in Jesus.
I’m embracing my weaknesses. I’m discovering that they bring me closer to my Savior. My weaknesses change my posture as I relate to others. They also remind me to never think I can minister to others out of my own strength. The strength and the glory all belong to someone else, and I never want to forget that.