“Leveraging Weakness” – is a phrase I recently came across on more than one occasion.
Whenever that happens (when I encounter repeated themes), I usually know God is trying to speak to me about something; it seems to be his way of reinforcing a truth he is teaching me. And for those of you who know me…I’m all about the journey WITHIN! So I try to pay attention.
Anyway, I thought it would be an interesting topic to write about…especially in light of my last blog where in essence I told my GraceWITHIN story…my story of weakness in huge proportions.
- And by the way… thank you so much for reading it, re-posting, commenting on it, and passing it along. I was blown away by the number of people who read it and are still reading it (over 350 as of today. I can’t see who is reading it – just how many). To me, it’s a reminder of the power a good story has to capture our hearts and imagination. Our stories allow us the sacred privilege of interacting with the story of others. It must be because we can always see a bit of ourselves and a bit of God…and a bit of heaven. What do you think?
Anywho… back to the topic at hand (it’s like I have writers ADHD or something)…
You heard it said…You should always play to your strengths and hire to your weakness, haven’t you?
I’ve even quoted that line myself. And I have also practiced it before too when I was looking to hire a right match. I would ASSESS and COMPARE my strengths and talents to the person I was looking to hire. I needed a certain set of skills (that I didn’t have). So in essence…yes, I hired to my weakness. A common practice in the business and non-profit sector world.
We do this all the time not only at work but at home, too. I used to assign jobs to my kids because they were good, or strong in a particular area. At other times I would assign tasks because someone needed to develop their weakness (if you know what I’m saying).
It’s a get-‘r-done kind of attitude we moms (and managers) need to have if we have any hope of getting something accomplished… or gaining order…or moving things forward…and staying even somewhat sane! Isn’t that right? And I can’t ever recall showcasing my ‘weaknesses’ on my resume to grab the attention of the hiring manager.
As a culture, we thrive on the strengths and talents of others, not on their weakness.
Not that this should be the ultimate litmus test in-and-of-itself, but just try google-ing those words together (leveraging weakness) and see what you get. Don’t bother. I’ll save you the trouble just to prove my point that even the world-wide-web has a hard time finding anything that supports such a foolish notion! First, consider their definitions:
leverage |ˈlev(ə)rij, ˈlēv(ə)rij|
- verb [ with obj. ]
- 1 (usu. as adj. leveraged) use borrowed capital for (an investment), expecting the profits made to be greater than the interest payable: a leveraged takeover bid.
- 2 use (something) to maximum advantage: the organization needs to leverage its key resources.
- the state or condition of lacking strength: the country’s weakness in international dealings.
- • a quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault: you must recognize your product’s strengths and weaknesses.
- • a person or thing that one is unable to resist or likes excessively: you’re his one weakness—he should never have met you.
- • [ in sing. ] (weakness for) a self-indulgent liking for: he had a great weakness for Scotch whisky.
My search confirmed my suspicions and reinforced my observation that STRENGTH, NOT WEAKNESS is where it’s at!
The list below is literally what I found in top-to-bottom progression:
- We should leverage our STRENGTHS and SUPPORT our weaknesses
- Good leaders should focus on the STRENGTHS (NOT weaknesses) of others
- Leveraging weakness is how we should flip every situation around in order to view EVERY weakness as the sign of a COUNTERFEITED STRENGTH, which means that the person actually possesses a strength that they are just overdoing (bs: now that’s an interesting perspective!)
- In learning, we should also leverage our strengths in order to MITIGATE our weaknesses and the weaknesses of others; however the goal is to ELIMINATE weaknesses altogether
- Strengths and weaknesses (when evaluating various newspapers) is based on the PERCEIVED PERFORMANCE of its readers; the suggestion here is to SIFT EVERYTHING (like flour I presume?) to leverage our strengths and EMBRACE our weakness; meaning….don’t waste time on them (weaknesses) but don’t ignore them either!
- And Liza, (of Liza’s Life Blog) says we should only COMPLIMENT our weakness to leverage our strengths
- Finally, (and this is just the first page of the search…) if one has any hope if finding career success, you must absolutely leverage your SUCCESSES (NOT your failures)!
- And there is ample research that supports this: The Marcus Buckingham Co., for example, describes strength as: not just something you’re good at, but something you consistently do to near perfection and that gives you strength. They describe weakness with even more insight as: “A TASK THAT DRAINS YOU AND MAKES YOU WEAK!”
The point is, that on almost every hierarchy chart that compares strength and weakness, strength is placed at the top (with only maximized strength or enhanced strength being higher) and weakness is placed at the absolute bottom.
The reason I find this so interesting is because I think I am re-learning a few things about my own weakness.
Perhaps this is an old truth to you, but it is one that I hope bears repeating for whatever reason.
After I posted my last blog and told my story (for all the world to see) I was praying that God would use it for his purposes. It wasn’t about me – or the fact that “OMG! Now everyone knows!” (spoken like an over-reacting melodramatic teenager).
I started to think about Paul in the New Testament and that amazing passage (2 Corinthians 12:9) where he wrote down his conversation with Jesus, when he told Paul to think rightly about his weakness; Jesus told him:
- “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
- Therefore I (Paul) will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
It doesn’t say anything about strength here. Well actually, in essence I guess he does say something about it by what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t say… “Don’t focus on your strengths” or “Your strengths are important but they can really be over-rated” or “Remember to stay in your area of strength, Paul and let me do the rest.”
No he brings WEAKNESS FRONT & CENTER!
Does that strike you as odd? It does me. It’s odd because it is completely upside down from everything the world tells us (as I began to demonstrate above).
Paul, the one God chose to write the majority of the NT, don’t forget – is the same Paul that once persecuted Christians! He wanted nothing to do with them or their God (uhm…guilty…that was me at one time, too).
He hated, despised, and threw into jail the very person he became – after his encounter with Jesus Christ. Was his weakness found in the fact that
- He could not escape his criminal past? Or in the fact that…
- God would not spare him nor deliver him from a ‘career’ of death threats, false accusations, beatings, imprisonment, stoning, ship-wreck and being stranded at sea, being robbed, various hardships, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, cold, daily pressures of concern for God’s people, and more? (2 Cor. 11:23-28)
The messages we receive from the world (work, TV, media, certain family & friends) often conflicts with the message God wants us to embrace. God says in essence:
- Embrace your weakness (add your name here)!
- Put it out there for everyone to see!
- Don’t run from it!
- Don’t resist it!
- Don’t deny it!
- Don’t try to hide it from others!
- Don’t try to mitigate it, eliminate it or temporarily terminate it!
- Go for it! Boast (brag) about it!
- Shout it from the rooftops!
- Draw attention to it!
- Sing about it!
- Write about it!
- In whatever way you can…tell others about it!
Doing so, Paul tells us, allows God’s power to rest on you!
That’s the part that really grabs my attention…and my heart! It’s not about me and it is certainly not what I have to lose (my reputation, various opportunities, even my very life).
It’s about God and the gain that your weakness will acquire for his kingdom purposes! The gain for you and me…is that we get to be used by the KING of Heaven & Earth in his redemptive work, for his grand redemptive plan – despite my past and despite my circumstances!
Is that awesome or what!?
So that’s why I tell my story y’all (shout out to all my southern family and friends)!
Time is too short. Our lives matter to God! Our stories matter to God! And certainly…our weaknesses matter to God! Nothing goes to waste in God’s economy! They are incredibly useful to him! It’s like … green energy or something! He uses what looks like “waste” for something valuable and useful!
Never forget ….we have a God who is able to make:
- Beauty come from ashes
- Dancing come from mourning
- Cleanness come from filth
- Joy come from sorrow
- Peace come from pain
I agree with Corrie ten-Boom (who was more than a Holocaust survivor) when she said,
- “Memories are not a bridge to the past, but to the future. For our experiences, when we allow God to use them, become the mysterious and perfect plan for the work he will call us to do.”
It was that quote (that my mother sent me in 2001) that God used – along with many other passages – to move me from my career as a stay-at-home mom, to full-time ministry in the non-profit sector – to fulfill the role as Young Life’s first National Director in which I would have the five year privilege of being used by God to lay the foundation for their ministry to reach teen moms throughout the US.
I know my life is an “Only God” story! A story that transformed my weakness – and put his strength on display!
I am learning to take Paul’s advice more and more in my personal life…and that it’s a good thing to boast in my weakness. Doing so has allowed God’s favor and spirit to rest on me and use me to expand the purposes of Christ not only in my own family, but also in letting thousands of young girls (like myself) know that God loves them…that he has a purpose and plan for their lives, too. In letting them and others know that he is the God of all hope and all comfort.
It is a humbling thing to “boast in your weakness” that is certain. But the fruit of doing so is oh so sweet!
Next week I think I may boast (brag) about a few people I know who have embraced their weaknesses. Their stories amaze me! And I know they will amaze and encourage you! So stay tuned friends…
If you haven’t already, I want you to find the courage to embrace your weakness so that God’s spirit can rest on you! For, his spirit is one of …love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… one that promises to give you a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Are you ready to practice “boasting” this week?
Can I ask offer a few suggestions to help you? Start with answering these few questions?
- What part of my life/ my story HIGHLIGHTS my weakness?
- How do I try to cover up my weakness and hide it from others? From God?
- Is it possible that God wants me to embrace my weakness to make me more humble? And to allow me to receive more of his power and grace?
- Am I willing to tell someone about my weakness in order to break down areas of pride?
- Do I really believe God can use MY weaknesses to encourage and bring hope to others?
Until next time… Go ahead…‘boast’ away!
Let me know about your ‘BoastingWITHIN’ journey. I’d love to hear about how God’s strength is being made perfect in your weakness.