BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b NLT).
A dictionary defines weakness as a lack of strength or determination, weak point, character flaw, fondness, or object of desire. The weakness of a Christian can involve all of these. A weakness is a limitation.
Everybody has an area of his life where he is weak, where he lacks strength, where he cannot do something or do much. We all have both strengths and weaknesses – assets and liabilities.1 Corinthians 12:29-30 says, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (NKJV). No! Nobody is everything.
Weaknesses could be spiritual, physical, moral, mental, congenital, etc. There are some weaknesses that you can work on and improve on yourself. There are, however, others that you won’t be able to remove or improve on, not even through prayers – you must learn how to live with them and manage them properly by the help of God – nevertheless, you will still fulfill the purpose of God for your life without these weaknesses stopping you.
Paul is an example of someone who had weaknesses but still fulfilled the purpose of God for his life. He prayed to God about a particular weakness, but God, rather than remove the weakness, gave him the grace to live with it. Hear Paul: “That experience is something worth boasting about, but I am not going to do it. I am going to boast only about my weaknesses. I have plenty to boast about and would be no fool in doing it, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it. I don’t want anyone to think more highly of me than what they can actually see in my life and my message, even though I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:5-10 NLT).
In that scripture, Paul simply called his weakness “a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan.” However, it was actually an instrument in God’s hand to keep him humble because of the abundance of revelation he had. Paul didn’t say exactly what this weakness was. Bible scholars have suggested different things. Nevertheless, this weakness posed a limitation to Paul. He had to depend on the grace of God, which supplied him the strength of God and made the weakness insignificant.
You have both strengths and weaknesses. Even your strengths can create your weaknesses. For instance, self-confidence, in a sense, is a strength, but it becomes a weakness when it is not rooted in God which is God-confidence, but rather in one’s abilities alone. You therefore must ensure that your strength does not create a weakness that becomes a major limitation for you. You must understand your strengths and weaknesses to be able to achieve your goals and purpose in life.
How to manage your weaknesses
1. Recognize and admit your weaknesses. Don’t deny your weaknesses. If you deny them, you won’t be able to manage them. God knows everybody’s weaknesses. Therefore, identify and admit yours. If you don’t know your weaknesses, ask your friends, colleagues, or family members. As it is often said, a problem rightly identified is a problem half solved.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul was able to recognize the particular weaknesses that he had, but he did not surrender to them. He still fulfilled God’s purpose for his life. You should not do anything less. Make no excuse for your weaknesses.
2. Improve your weaknesses. There are some weaknesses that you must improve on if you are going to go far in life – that is the only option you have. Improvement will require time and effort. It will be easier to improve on some than others, but with discipline and prayer, commit yourself to improvement. Enlist the support of your friends, colleagues, etc. in your improvement programme. Let them know the weaknesses you’re trying to improve on and hold you accountable for your progress in this regard. “Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NLT).
As a child of God, one of the ways to improve on your weaknesses is by studying and meditating on the Word of God. The Bible is a complete book that deals with everything you’ll need to know, including your relationship with God and fellow human beings; and examples of Bible characters with strengths and weaknesses and how to fulfill your destiny. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:8-9 NKJV).
Although not all things can be learnt, there are some that can be learnt. You can improve on your weaknesses by learning from others what is teachable. If someone is strong where you are weak, approach him to teach you, but be humble to learn. “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9 NKJV).
3. Get rid of moral weaknesses. Some people’s weaknesses have to do with their morals or sinful habits. You can’t ignore these as a child of God. These weaknesses will ruin you no matter the other strengths you have. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1 NLT). By the help of the Spirit of God, refuse to yield to temptations. The Bible says, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38 NKJV).
You don’t have to yield to temptations and tolerate sinful habits helplessly labeling them your weaknesses. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (NKJV). So don’t give in to temptations. Don’t explain away a moral weakness – moral weakness is a sin. You should repent of any sinful habit in your life and receive the help of God to overcome temptations whenever they come. Hear what Hebrews 4:14-16 says: “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (NKJV).
Samson was reputed for his extraordinary physical strength, but he was morally weak. His strength deceived him. Your strength – physically, materially, financially, mentally, etc. – can never compensate for your moral weakness. Don’t become a slave of sin. “For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness” (Romans 6:19b NKJV).
4. Don’t neglect your strengths while concentrating too much attention on eliminating your weaknesses. Some people make this mistake of neglecting their strengths; they assume that their weaknesses are responsible for their inability to achieve certain things in life (Please, I don’t have moral weakness in mind here; I’m not minimizing sin). This is not always true. The truth could be that such people have failed to utilize their strengths; they have buried their talents. Ephesians 4:7 says God has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ.
Successful people are not people without weaknesses, but those who have been able to manage their weaknesses, and at the same time develop and maximize their strengths.
You may be working on your weaknesses or striving to eliminate them, but don’t neglect your strengths. Develop and maximize your strengths. However, I must add that you should never overestimate your strengths to think you’re sufficient without God. Paul says, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV). Psalm 33:16 says, “No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength” (NKJV). The New Living Translation renders it thus: “The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.” Concentrate on your strengths; don’t keep complaining about your weaknesses. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a NKJV). In view of this, Paul said, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me” (verse 9b NLT).
Utilize your strengths and entrust your weaknesses to God. Always remember that your full strength is in God (Psalm 84:5, 27:1b, 68:35b). Without God, one can still fail despite one’s strengths.
5. Depend on the Holy Spirit. God allows some weaknesses in His children, including ministers of the gospel, so that we won’t have a feeling of self-sufficiency. He has made us need Him and depend on the Holy Spirit. “But this precious treasure — this light and power that now shine within us — is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT).
Everyone has his weaknesses whether he is a pastor or a church member. Hebrews 5:2b says the high priest (under the law of Moses) was subject to the same weaknesses of the people they represented before God. Hebrews 7:28 says the high priests were limited by human weakness.
Paul said he was with the Corinthian church in weakness. “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:3-5 NKJV). This was the great apostle Paul speaking – he was timid and trembling, but he did what he had to do, concentrating only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross (1 Corinthians 2:2). God worked through him.
Despite your weaknesses, whether physical or spiritual weakness, God can still achieve His purpose by His power working in you. He is the one who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Hear what the Bible says about Jesus and believers, too: “For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you” (2 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV).
Depend on the Holy Spirit. He is the Counselor. He’ll teach you all things, including how to manage your weaknesses (John 14:26).
6. Receive the grace of God for your weaknesses. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (NKJV). God’s grace makes you succeed despite your weaknesses. God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a NKJV). Therefore, Paul could say in verse 10b, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (NLT).
By weakness, Paul wasn’t talking about sin. God’s strength is not made perfect in sin. You must repent of your sins and forsake them. You cannot continue in sin that grace may abound (Romans 6:1). You should receive grace to live victoriously above sin, not to wallow in sin and plead helplessness.
Remember that Jesus carried your weaknesses on the cross when he died. “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried…” (Isaiah 53:4a NLT). You can fail sometimes in the area of your strength, but you can never fail when you receive His grace in the area of your weakness. The grace of God makes your weakness insignificance.
7. Have faith in God. With faith in God, your weaknesses cannot stop you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life. The book of Hebrews talks about the exploits of faith by men in the Bible. Hebrews 11:34b says through their faith, these men “out of weakness were made strong” (NKJV). Did you see that? Although they were weak, God made them strong. That will be your testimony too if you have faith in God.
God determines how He will respond to your faith not necessarily by removing your weaknesses. God may make you strong by sending help to you through someone who has strength. He can give you supernatural ability to overcome each time you’re faced with the challenge posed by your weakness.
8. Partner with someone whose strength can offset your weakness. In Exodus 4:10-17, the Bible records how Moses told God he was not eloquent but was slow of speech and slow of tongue. He said, in other words, that he was incompetent to carry out the assignment of speaking to the Israelites and delivering them from Egypt. God said He would help him speak well, and tell him what to say (verse 12). However, when Moses insisted that God should send somebody else, He provided him an assistant, Aaron, a good speaker, to be his spokesman (verse 14). Sometimes God doesn’t remove our weaknesses, but He uses us even with our weaknesses. And sometimes, He simply adds others’ strengths to us in our weakness.
A wise person surrounds himself with the strengths of others. Rely on the strengths of others where you’re weak. If you already have a relationship with the person, delegate to him. Where you’re strong, somebody is weak, and verse versa. This is why we need each other and one another. No amount of prayer will make you strong all-round! As we’ve seen, even the great Apostle Paul acknowledged his weakness and the significant contributions of other brethren to his life and ministry. In his letters, he mentioned some of them, such as Titus, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Epaphras, Mark, etc.
It is not wise to refuse to benefit from the strengths of others where you’re weak. This is why people go into partnerships. A partnership where partners are strong in the same area may be weak. That means they don’t need each other or one another. “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT).
9. Assign the task you are weak at to someone who has strength for it. Romans 12:6a says, “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well” (NLT). This means that there are certain things God has not given each person the ability to do well. You can always get competent people to do something you don’t have strength for. If you don’t have the ability to do something, and you cannot acquire the ability or no one on your team can do it, get a competent person to do it – you may have to pay some money for it sometimes. You don’t have to keep lamenting your lack of ability to accomplish something. Life operates on the principle of exchange. You exchange what you have for what you don’t have. Other people will require your own ability where they’re weak.
Delegate or outsource what you have no strength or ability for to someone who has. There is nothing to be ashamed of about that – nobody has it all. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NKJV).
What is true of spiritual gifts is also true of natural abilities or talents, skills, expertise. No matter how intelligent and brilliant you are, you can’t acquire or possess all the expertise required in all aspects of life. You can’t be a tailor, carpenter, electrician, computer scientist, automobile mechanic, civil engineer, lawyer, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, pilot, soldier, etc. all together. You can’t be a jack of all trades and master of all!
10. Use an approach that will require your strengths to perform a task and not expose your weaknesses. Sometimes there may be more than one method to undertake an assignment. Employ the method that will require your strengths and minimize your weaknesses rather than expose your weaknesses.
Conclusion: The fulfillment of the purpose of God for your life will be determined, among other things, by how you’re able to develop and maximize your strengths on one hand and manage your weaknesses on the other hand. My prayer is that the LORD will help you to do this in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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