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.”
Just because I want to do something doesn’t mean that I should – indeed, learning to work with people, helps us to do much more than what we could do by ourselves. Furthermore, only God is wired up to do all of that stuff & much more. If you’re like me, let’s be mindful that we don’t drown ourselves in all our dreams and desires 🙂
As I write, my kids are doing an amazing job of cleaning the house. We divided up the responsibilities onto various checklists (laundry checklist, kitchen checklist, living / family room checklist, etc) & consequently, no one is thoroughly overwhelmed by the tasks that need to be done. Furthermore, each of my kids brings their unique personalities to their jobs so it’s fun to watch them jump in & invest some “sweat equity” to our quality of living 🙂
It’s my responsibility to oversee & quality check against the checklists they’re using to ensure that everything is done well & thoroughly. In some ways, this all reminds me of how God puts us together to bring the Kingdom of God into our daily reality. Some essentail ingredients include:
teamwork: the lone ranger paradigm doesn’t generally fit into kingdom thinking
focus: when my kids are distracted, they’re less effective & everthing takes longer; staying focused on God helps us to be more productive
oversight & integration: God never leaves us to our own devices & efforts to see God’s kingdom realized
mutually beneficial: a clean kitchen, clothes, bathroom and living areas are in everyone’s best interest & God’s kingdom is no different 🙂
When I think about the word “strong“, I automatically think about muscles, weight lifting, eating protein, endurance, some pain & my gym. It’s interesting that I don’t immediately associate strength with teamwork, honesty, growing, change or time. But when I think about it, these words are also essential ingredients for the word “strong”.
On a somewhat deeper level, I think it’s critical to consider where strength comes from. Where does endurance, discipline, cooperation, patience & the like come from? For me, the short & ultimate answer is God.
Without God in my life, my endurance is like exercising with Halloween candy for fuel.
Without God in my life, the strength of my will power is like trying to swim a lap in a 50m pool without taking a breath – the effort burns my lungs & obscures my thinking
Without God in my life, cooperation & teamwork becomes disguised dysfunction (abusive, neglectful, manipulative & selfish acedia)
When I look to God for His strength in my life, the contrast of His strength versus my strength, helps me appreciate how truly weak I am without Him. Be strong!! 🙂
I have several friends who are really business-smart & I thank God that they’re my friends because presently, I don’t consider myself business-smart (although I’m getting better). One of the exercises that many businesses commonly run through, from time to time, is the swot analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats. After having gone through this exercise in various organizations, it’s been really helpful to kind of do a personal swot analysis & to consider some outcomes:
Something that I consider to be one of my strengths is my indepdence. I can do alot of things by myself & generally, that’s something that I like about me. Lately however, I’m seeing that more & more, my independence isn’t so much a strength, but rather is a weakness because I see that I can easily isolate myself & thereby minimize my effectiveness. Furthermore, I’m learning that teamwork isn’t only about the accomplishment, but maybe even moreso about the personal development & growth that teamwork cultivates. I’m writing all of this to encourage us to be mindful that whatever strengths we have, that we appreciate that they can also be weaknesses. Maybe this is some of what Paul was talking about in 2 Cor 12:9-10, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness .” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, . . . ” 🙂