I’ve always wanted to be strong. As a young lad, physical strength was what I wanted more than anything and so I began lifting weights at the age of 12. My mother, on the other hand, wanted me to possess a different kind of strength—she wanted me to have strength of character. Accordingly, self-sufficiency was among the most valued traits in our household.
I no longer view strength as I once did. It’s not that I don’t want to be strong—I do—but I’m convinced that strength does not come from walking the path of self-sufficiency. And, as I look to the Scriptures, I find an entirely different posture encouraged. What I see is the value of weakness.
This past Sunday, at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well, I delivered my 3rd of 5 messages under the heading “Parting Words From Your Pastor”. I want the people I serve to recognize that taking on a posture of weakness is the key to experiencing tremendous strength.
My Old Testament example of this was Gideon who, when commissioned by the Lord, answered, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15). What Gideon eventually learns is that his strength was not relevant to the success of the mission. What was most critical was not Gideon’s strength, but God’s strength.
I suggested that what we see in the story of Gideon is not unique, but rather we see a pattern that is repeated throughout the Scriptures. The pattern is God glorifying Himself by using ordinary people to carry out His awesome purposes. To put it another way, our weakness qualifies us to receive God’s strength.
This was the testimony of the apostle Paul who had petitioned the Lord three times to remove his “thorn” of adversity (2 Corinthians 12:7, 8). But, instead of the removing Paul’s thorn, the Lord replies: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul ultimately gets this and explains to the Corinthians , “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).
I want every follower of Jesus to know that the way to success, the way to growth, and the way to strength, does not come by way of the path of self-sufficiency. The Lord is not looking for people who “can do it”. The Lord is looking for individuals who are willing to trust in His ability to do all things.
King Solomon, unmatched in wisdom, wealth, and influence understood this causing him to write:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
I am confident that the congregation I presently serve can survive my transition to Nassau, Bahamas, because their strength does not lie with their pastor. The strength of a congregation does not lie with any individual, committee, or leadership group. The strength of a congregation comes from the Lord.
In the audio below I offer what I hope are some helpful and practical ways in which we can take on a posture of weakness.
I still very much want to be strong. Only now I look outside of myself for that strength (see Ephesians 6:10).
Do you want to be strong? Of course you do. Then it is my privilege to declare to you that Divine strength is available to you. But first—but first you must become weak.