In the past, I’ve taken lots of pride in being a highly independent person. As any wise person knows, pride goes before a fall, both literally & metaphorically. So when I’ve thought that being independent was a strength, I’m growing to appreciate that it can also be a weakness. I’m learning that independence becomes a weakness when I separate myself from people, when I don’t ask for help, when I don’t allow others to contribute in teamwork and improvements. Unfortunately, I’ve had to fall down, fail and face inadequacy to accept the reality that my independence isn’t a strength as much as it can be a weakness for me.
I’m being vulnerable with this lesson because there’s a good chance that you might have a few things that you consider to be strengths. It’s possible that these perceived strengths could be weaknesses for you, maybe. Consider some examples:
Is external beauty a strength at the expense of cultivating interior beauty? Of course these don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but it’s a good question to consider in both ways of interior & exterior beauty.
Is dependence a strength when cultivating one’s internal fortitude is dismissed?
Is discipline a strength when it accentuates achievement at the expense of intimacy or people connection?
Is Bible knowledge or proper theology a strength without God’s love to soften our words, actions and attitudes?
Sometimes we can lean on our strengths so much that they can become weaknesses without realizing it! Let’s keep Paul’s words about boasting in weakness from 2 Corinthians 11:30 as a central theme in our daily living! “If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.”
Flexibility – growing When I was in High School, I played basketball & I really enjoyed my team, the competitions, challenges, etc. For 2 years, I was a forward who was usually the 1st or 2nd substitute to come into the game. My coach really helped me appreciate the contribution I could make to our team in that role as a substitute. During my senior year, one of our key guards got hurt in the 1st game of the season & her injury prohibited her from playing for the rest of the year. My coach talked with me about stepping into this role – he explained that this new role would have new responsibilities, assignments & challenges. From our conversation, I shifted to playing starting guard, something I had never done before but I was excited to start! Unfortunately, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in that position but for me, the experience was an important contributing influence in learning to be flexible.
Flexible – If you’re like me, we want to be good at what we do. Sometimes, if we’re not careful, this desire translates to only doing what we are good at. No one likes to do poorly or fail. But I think this can cause a dicey problem for us when we genuinely let God direct our lives. Recently, I’ve been in different situations where I need to do things in which I don’t consider myself naturally talented. Like my basketball team in High School, I’m being asked to be a guard & not the forward I’ve gotten used to playing. I sense God asking me to let Him use me in different capacities than what I’ve become comfortable in. While I can’t say that I’m amped to do these things, I am definitely amped to grow in my dependence on God because I’ve found that such dependence on God fosters greater intimacy with Him – one of the key goals of my life. So when I’m in situations where I’m not naturally comfortable or gifted, rather than flounder and try to use any human savy I can muster up, I’m learning to lean into God more. Flexibility can be a path God uses to draw us closer to Him.