CP Opinion

Monday, Dec 22, 2014

How to Lead (and Preach) Through Your Weaknesses

  • (Photo: Saddleback Church)
    Megachurch pastor Rick Warren will be joined by three renowned doctors, including cardio surgeon and TV show host Dr. Mehmet Oz, for a health conference and rally to be webcast live from Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Saturday morning, October 2011.
May 28, 2013|2:00 pm

Jesus was definitely an iconoclast, continually challenging the conventional thinking of His day. Twenty different times Jesus said, "You've heard it said… but I say to you…" And even today, his thoughts on leadership go against the grain.

Most modern books on leadership, whether Christian or secular, give the same advice – be confident, never admit fear, maintain control and be composed, be convincing and never show weakness. But Jesus had a different style altogether. Instead of leading from a position of strength (lording authority over people), Jesus led from a position of weakness, becoming a servant.

The fact is, everybody has weaknesses. And our weaknesses are multi-faceted. We have physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual weaknesses. The question is, what do you do with your weaknesses? While most people deny, defend, or excuse their weaknesses, Christian leaders can embrace them and ask God to use them! When God works through weak people, His power is shown more clearly!

Let me define what I'm talking about when I use the word weakness. I'm not talking about a character flaw that can and should be changed. A weakness is any limitation in my life I inherited or can't change. How do you lead through weaknesses you didn't ask for and don't have the ability to change?

1. I MUST ADMIT MY WEAKNESSES.

In other words, I need to stop pretending to have it all together, stop hoping my weaknesses will go away if I ignore them, and stop making excuses and blaming others, which only hurts my credibility in the end. At Saddleback Church, we only hire staff members who are willing to be honest about their weaknesses. We don't want the consequences of insecure leaders who infect the staff from within.

2. I MUST BE GRATEFUL FOR MY WEAKNESSES.

The limitations God allows in our lives are actually blessings in disguise! Our limitations guarantee that God will show up to help. The also prevent me from becoming arrogant, and nothing will limit my effectiveness in ministry more than arrogance.

I was born with a brain disorder that makes public speaking excruciatingly painful for me most of the time. My brain overreacts to adrenaline. My vision goes blurry and sometimes everything goes black. Then I get severe headaches and dizziness, hot flashes, and a sense of absolute panic! But I've learned that my greatest weakness is also my greatest blessing because God gets the glory for using me anyway.

3. I MUST OPENLY SHARE MY WEAKNESSES.

It's called being vulnerable. I share my weaknesses by admitting that there are limits to my knowledge, my ability, and my energy. And being open is always risky. There will always be people in your congregation who don't want you to be human. They'd rather put a halo on you and pretend you are never tempted and that you're above the crass realities of life.

Refusing to be vulnerable is dishonest and hypocritical, but even worse, it sets up a scenario in which people become disillusioned with Christian leaders when your humanness eventually shows – and it always will.

Why is it so important to reveal your feelings?

  • It liberates you from the stress of keeping up a false image.
  • Some faults won't budge until you confess them to others.
  • You can't experience grace without weaknesses and you can't minister without grace.
  • It's the fastest way to endear yourself to others.
  • Honesty supports your credibility, and people only follow leaders they trust.
  • It encourages others to throw away their masks.
  • It helps your preaching to speak with transparency.

When you share your strengths - you create competition. When you share your weaknesses = community!

So what do you share? As you think about how you will relate and communicate to others in the next week, think about how you will share these five things:

  • Failures.
  • Feelings.
  • Faults.
  • Frustrations.
  • Fears.

Your humanity is actually one of your greatest assets in ministry. To deny your humanity is not only dumb, it decreases your effectiveness. Do you want to be used by God? Do you want his blessing on your ministry? Do you want people to give the glory to God? Walk in total dependence on God!

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2013 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved
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