Power perfected in our weaknesses.
Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
Read any book on management or self-help books designed to help a person maximize their potential, and the focus will settle on discovering your strengths and then effectively using those strengths to attain your goals and be successful. However, if Paul were writing such a book, he would instead state, “Embrace your weakness, and then you will find true strength.” For Paul, true success not in our abilities or strengths but in the context of our failure and weakness. But this is not an easy lesson learned. From a human perspective, Paul undoubtedly was highly gifted and qualified to be a leader in the church. As he points out in writing to the church at Philippi, he was fully qualified and had attained the respect and status among men (Philippians 3:1-6). He had all the attributes that we deem necessary to be successful: He was well educated from the most prestigious school in the land. He was extremely driven, and he had cultivated close relationships with the key people.
However, Paul turns everything upside down. What others considered to be the keys to success Paul saw as a hindrance and the very things that we could consider to be the shortcomings that would hinder our effectiveness, Paul considered his most important qualities. However, this was not always the case. For Paul, his struggles and weaknesses were a hindrance and barrier. They hindered his work and frustrated his plans.
Consequently, he begged (a strong, intensive word rather than a simple request) for God to deliver him from these weaknesses, these “thorns in the flesh.” In this, we can all identify. The most frustrating thing in ministry is the realization of our failures and ineptness. When we become involved in church, we know too well the frustration of our own frailty. As the sage Pugo (a comic written by Walt Kelly) famously stated, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” My greatest frustration in ministry is myself.
Nevertheless, Paul, in a surprising statement of sincerity, completely turns everything upside down. He learned that the true strength for our ministry and life does not come from innate abilities, but our inherent weaknesses, for the service, to constantly remind us that our success is never attained because of us, but despite us. Success in life is not achieved when we learn to rely upon our strengths, but when we learn to welcome our weaknesses, for, in these, we learn the power and grace of God. Rather than frustrated with his weaknesses, Paul learned to embrace them, for he realizes the more his weaknesses became evident, the more Christ's power became manifested in him.
Are you frustrated with your failures, and do you struggle with your inherent weaknesses? Do you find yourself frustrated with aspects of your personality and skills that seem to hinder your success? Perfect! Now you're in a position to learn that God can empower you and use you despite all your failures and weaknesses, and that is when you can truly become effective for him.