By Network Chi Alpha Director/Presbyter, Pastor Sara Good | May 19, 2021
Our Weakness + God's Power = Strong Leadership
We have all faced our fair share of difficult circumstances that have created a season (or many seasons) of hardship -- perhaps in our personal lives and/or in ministry. Just in 2020-21 alone I have had a slew of challenges where I have found myself with a season ticket (that I did not purchase) for a seat on the “struggle bus”. Have you found yourself on this same bus?
In these seasons my natural tendency at times is to think that I’m stronger than I actually am. Or sometimes I feel the need to portray an outer image of strength so that those I lead can have confidence in me as a “strong” leader no matter what comes my way. This is something that I recognize has been in me even in childhood. I remember one particular day my siblings and I were playing croquet with some cousins. Being silly, I had my face on the ground to watch the croquet ball as it was being hit. Unfortunately, the ball was hit with great vigor and took an unexpected path… directly to my face. I quickly said I was ok and excused myself to the restroom where I tried to stop the bleeding myself and grit my teeth through the pain. Ultimately, I had been in there long enough that an adult came to check on me and found me filling towels with blood. I got the lecture that I should always find an adult if I’m hurt and that I don’t have to be strong and handle things on my own. As a kid, I simply didn’t want to ruin the croquet game and I definitely didn’t want my older cousins to think I was a weak cry baby. Wow, where have I responded in similar way as an adult, specifically in leadership? Have you ever found yourself in a position in leadership where you too have responded by gritting your teeth and bearing the pain in order to portray an image of strength on the outside while crumbling to pieces on the inside?
What we find in the Bible is a reality that is contrary to this mindset. Being strong and unshakable isn’t a requirement for good leadership. To be a strong leader doesn’t mean that I can never be the weakest of the weak. In fact, we read that it is in weakness that the strength of God is made perfect (2 Cor. 12:9). It is human nature to look for strength or try to portray strength out of self rather than laying our weaknesses bare, allowing others to see that it is the Spirit of God who transforms that position of weakness into a position of strength in our lives.
To be a good leader is not about a foundation that is in my own strength and natural abilities, but about a firm foundation in a God who is never shaken. Maybe the design is that others NEED to see our weaknesses as we live lives of transparency, so they are able to see not a strong man or a strong woman, but instead see the glorious strength of our Mighty God. I read this excerpt from Brother Yun’s book, Living Water, and it struck a cord that resonated:
“Once when I was in a prison labor camp in China, I was appointed shepherd of the sheep that grazed within the prison’s land. I tried all I could to get the sheep to follow me, but nothing worked. Finally, I discovered that if I picked up the smallest lamb and carried it, then all the other sheep would follow. This is what happened when God chose David to slay the giant, and this is what continues to happen in numerous different ways throughout the world today. God’s Kingdom advances when the Almighty God uses weak men and women, and not through human strength and bravado.”
Perhaps in a time when it seems like chaos is all around us, the very thing our churches, ministries, and the world needs is not strong men and women of leadership but weak men and weak women. Maybe the world needs to see that in moments of difficulty and hardship, the “lowly” are lifted up and carried by a Mighty God. Someone once told me that this design is even knit into creation itself. Rivers will run to the lowly places. Life giving refreshment flows down to the lower elevations. We, too, find life and refreshment when we position ourselves humbly before the Lord. Lowly shouldn’t be equated with unhealthy or seen as a lack of ability. Lowly means living God-reliant and not self-reliant.
Yes, God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous! However, I believe it is a strong and courageous that is way different than my image of what it means for me to be strong. It is a strong and courageous that stems from understanding my weakness, being ok with my weakness, and allowing God’s strength to be made perfect through my weakness. I used to pray that the Lord would make me a strong leader. Now that I am aware of my natural tendencies of feeling the need to portray strength even if it’s not there, I can’t pray that prayer anymore. I now pray that I would be a weak woman. A weak woman who is found in those lowly places where the river of God flows and a woman who becomes an unhindered conduit of our Strong and Mighty God. He is the one who leads in wisdom and strength and power.... I simply am the smallest lamb being carried by the All Powerful God himself