Leaders are often reluctant to acknowledge and accept their weaknesses.
I can understand that. I’m often reluctant too. I’m trained to “overcome” my weaknesses and lead out of my strength, and that things like resilience and discipline are core to successful leadership. I agree. It makes sense, God gave you and I unique gifts, strengths, passion and ability so we can lead out our calling at our best.
That is the aim, to lead at our best in alignment with God’s plan, but it might be a short-sited aim if we don’t understand how weakness fits in. And if so, we’ll miss the real target of our fullest potential.
Weakness is part of humanity. There is no escaping that truth.
And God uses it for His glory and our good.
As leaders we have limitations. Most of us are reluctant to accept them, but that doesn’t make them any less real. In fact, that usually makes our limitations a greater liability and ultimately short-changes our leadership potential.
A weakness or limitation is different than being a weak person or a limited leader. It’s an acknowledgement of your humanity and gives you clues to how God wants to use you.
The chinks in your armor allow you to develop empathy and compassion. They give you insight to human nature. They help you genuinely connect with people. Without these things it’s difficult to lead with God’s heart.
The truth is, we rarely find our fullest potential as a leader outside of pain, some failure, and a connected sense of our own suffering.
The apostle Paul wrote about his own experience.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.II Cor 12:8-10
There is something we need to acknowledge here.
God never intended for our weakness to become permission for excuses, but to remind us that He is the true source of our strength.
Weakness becoming strength:
1) Get honest about your weakness and accept it as something God wants to use.
What is your weakness?
What is your struggle?
Where do you get stuck?
It’s important that you know.
It would be virtually impossible to list every specific possibility, but what might your main category be? Here are a few examples.
- Lack of confidence – Such as doubting and second guessing yourself, or like fear of risk.
- Insecurity — Perhaps the narrative about your family of origin. Or past hurts.
- Pleasing people or performance for approval — This changes things, like how you make or don’t make decisions and how you establish priorities.
- Your emotions get the best of you — This is common. Anger, discouragement, frustration saps the strength from you and can push people away.
- Anxiety – Not a clinical level struggle, but that low-grade anxiousness or common anxieties that rob your peace and joy. There’s a subtle uneasiness in your gut.
Notice that none of these are skill-based deficits. They are all inner issues at a soul level. We can learn skills, we can improve skills, but it’s what inside behind the skills that matters.
2) Diagnose what is deeper by starting on the surface with practical realities.
For example, I can still struggle with saying no to good opportunities that allow me to be helpful, but result in crowding out the few essentials that I am called and created to do.
- Say it plain. Like this, “I have difficulty saying no.”
- What’s underneath that? There are several possibilities. Seeking approval. An insecure moment. Performance orientation.
- Understand deeper. These weaknesses often come from a good place, like the desire to develop people to their best potential, but can take over and crowd out the good.
- Consequence. Doing too much, results in doing far less.
Now I’m ready to re-embrace the remedy. When I return to the core of my calling- my purpose, passion, gifting and the lanes within my gifting, I’m crowding out weakness and embracing strength. That doesn’t always make my decisions easier, but it always makes them clearer.
3) Allow your strengths to instruct your weaknesses
Build on your strengths rather than getting stuck in your weakness.
We can’t ignore our weaknesses because we never completely overcome them. That requires perfection, which is not human. But we can learn to live above our weaknesses and begin to crowd them out.
Living above your weakness and crowding them out requires a certain amount of consistency in focusing on your strengths.
Be just as honest about your strengths as you are courageous about identifying your weaknesses.
- Own your strengths with confidence, not apology. What are you good at?
- What inner strengths or character traits support what you are good at? Discipline? Passion? Conviction? Hard work? Compassion? Faith? Confidence? Kindness? Others?
- Does your primary work leverage your strengths? It takes time in your career work to focus exclusively on your strengths, that’s part your growth journey. But you can start to head in the right direction now.
- What triggers your weaknesses that can derail your focus on strengths and your best contribution? This is where your strengths “instruct” or reprogram weaknesses so they can no longer contaminate or crowd out your best leadership. Know the triggers and stay out in front of them.
4) Receive the kindness of God in accepting His power so your weakness becomes strength.
Receiving the kindness of God and His power often begins by accepting what He has already provided. We usually don’t need to look for more to get started, just lean in to what has already been placed before us.
There is so much of God’s depth, richness and blessing within the body of Christ. The body works together in unity for the good of God. We were never designed to lead alone. Don’t resist help sent by God, look for it and receive it.
None of us can lead on our own, we need a group of insiders that we deeply trust, will accept their counsel, receive their support, and submit to their accountability. This is one of the ways we receive God’s blessing and power.
God also gives power through the Holy Spirit directly from Him to you. This does not depend on performance but only relationship. It’s personal. The closer the intimacy and obedience, the greater your inner strength.
I pray for God’s strength within you!
9 thoughts on “How Our Leadership Weakness Becomes Strength With God”
I’m really thankful for this statement. Now I can make distinction of a weakness, limitation and a weak person, limited person or leader. This gives us faith because through our weakness, God works in us to make his work perfect, so that we can glorify him. What’s impossible to us, is possible to God. Thank you
What is impossible for us is possible for God!
“Notice that none of these are skill-based deficits. They are all inner issues at a soul level. We can learn skills, we can improve skills, but it’s what inside behind the skills that matters.”
This article is very helpful, particularly the sentence above. I tend to think of strengths and weakness, primarily in terms of skill, not soul issues.
The example of “Soul Issues Categories” were right on the money and helped me think through a very real problem. This was just what I needed today. Thank you, Dan, for your hard work of reflection and thinking through so many real-life issues. They are a great help.
So glad this what you needed today!
Thanks, Dan! This is a helpful post with several difficult-to- make connections (e.g., “ What inner strengths or character traits support what you are good at?”). You are one of the most trustworthy voices I listen to (read). In a way, through these posts, you become part of our extended group of insiders (aka, extended inner circle). For further reading, I would recommend “The Cost of Control” by Sharon Hodde Miller, which also offers useful insight on limitations from the perspective of control.
Honored to be part of your extended group of insiders!
And thanks for the book recommendation!
Hi Dan, There’s another book that I remembered that has an excellent section on limits/limitations: “The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships” by Patrick J. Carnes (Ch 4, What Makes Trauma Bonds Stronger?, When the Victim & Victimizer Believe in Their Own Uniqueness, pp. 126-130)
This is so good, when we step into our calling and gifts we overcome our weakness and become strong by God grace and power
Glad this is helpful Jesus!