“Never show a sign of weakness.”
To many people this quote sounds like the general of an army going to war. Maybe for some it sounds like a boxer’s trainer shouting from the corner of the ring. For others maybe it sounds like the pages of a best-selling leadership book, a boss of a company trying to raise sales, or a father speaking to his son headed out in the real world.
To me, this sounds a lot like the motto of the evangelical church in America.
Growing up in church I was taught that when someone asks “How are you doing?” than you respond with “I’m good, how are you?” This was a weekly ritual at the Baptist church where I was from and one that left little room for authenticity. So I was discipled as a child (through observation) that we were to not be upfront about our struggling marriages, not to let people know we have been enslaved that week to pornography, never to reveal our doubts about the faith, and to always walk through the halls with a smile on our faces.
But over the last couple of months I have learned some great truths about being authentic that both impact my walk with Christ and the church:
1. Being weak allows us to be real to ourselves.
All too often believers fool themselves into thinking that they are strong enough to stand alone. Or if they know they are weak, than they are afraid to let it show. Many people daily walk through life believing in their own self-sufficiency. They may not admit this is true, but their prayerlessness and independence tell a different story. This is one area of our life the Lord wants to crucify. He desires for his people not to be impressed by themselves, but to walking in a spirit of humility. I pray that the Lord continues to expose my weakness and tear away the false hopes I have in myself.
2. Being weak allows the church to be the church.
This is one truth that the Lord has shown me during these first few months of having a baby in the house. It would be easy for Rebecca and I to pretend that we are baby raising experts. We could have told our brothers and sisters at Christ Fellowship that this baby stuff was a piece of cake, but we would have been lying. Instead, we admitted weakness at times and the church got to be the church. The church provided meals for us when we were too tired to cook. They offered to take her a few hours so we could get rest and they prayed for my wife during some of the hardest times of her life.
Imagine if no one ever showed weakness to their brothers and sisters in Christ. Think about all the blessings that can come during a time of weakness: two sisters praying through infertility, two brothers encouraging one another through a struggle with lust, a family without jobs having their rent paid for, or counseling another church member when they struggle with doubts. All of these are lost when the church trades being real with one another for the empty “I’m good’s” and fake smiles.
3. More importantly, being the weak allows our Savior to be a Savior.
Jesus is a great savior and loves to save his people. Zephaniah writes “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save.” The Lord does not want his people to lean on their own understanding, to hope in their own gifts/talents, or to be dependent on their own strength. In fact, he wants the opposite to be true. He wants a people who can say “Lord I see my weakness and I need you to be my strength.” This is a confession not just for saving grace by the lost, but a daily confession for sustaining grace by the saved. I pray for the glory of Christ that we will be able to say with Paul “I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”