Boast In Your Weakness: Let Your Testimony Encourage Someone Else

Archive Post: Original blog post and comments from August 2011 can be found at:

I'm sooooooooooooooooooo excited about blogging today! I know I'm always excited about it, but I'm particularly excited because I've been stewing over this one for a few weeks. God has really been showing me quite a few things and ways that I can be better,and I'm excited to share it with all of you!

"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, insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 
-2nd Corinthians 12:9

I absolutely love this image to above which I snagged from Google images. I was double checking the citation for the above scripture when this image came up, which pretty perfectly illustrates the point that I want to elaborate on today. 

I recently went to dinner with a few friends, one of which was younger and attends my church just for fun and to go over some details for my business. Somehow, we ended up talking for about 10 minutes on the business and the other 2 hours on life, mentoring siblings and relationship with God. That's just how He works sometimes. And I really thank God for it, because I learned so much from it. 

One of the ladies who I took to dinner was headed away to college soon, which sparked some conversation about what college was like for me and my other friend there when we were away. I shared some experiences, good and bad, mistakes and lessons learned, and for some reason it all just came out really candidly. I also shared when I first started hearing God's calling on my life towards the end of my college experience and just how God really just took control and changed not only my actions, but even my desires. It was an interesting conversation, but what was more interesting was the response. This young lady first asked me a whole lot of questions: "How were you able to get to the point to stop hanging out and partying with certain friends and stay home alone instead?" "How did you have that courage, did they think you were crazy?" "Did they think you were for real?" This was really interesting because as she was asking me these things, God started speaking to me and letting me know that she had to know my testimony, and about my weaknesses to ask these questions, and see the realness of God's grace in my life, and how real He could be in hers as well. 

So I went on and explained how I explained to people that I was changing my life and some people respected it, and some people mocked it with a "oh, so you're a pastor now?" but the bottom line was that I knew where I was going, but I had to move 1st and not just talk about it for people to see and understand that it wasn't just a phase. This girl began to explain that a lot of times, young people tune spiritual leaders out because its difficult to relate to what they are saying since many times 'people act like they do not struggle with the same weaknesses'. As a leader in my church, its easy to get defensive and respond without thinking about what she was actually saying, but for some reason God had me in a really receptive place this day. Now I did correct it and let her know that its not always easy for anyone to put their business out there, especially because you don't want anyone to repeat your mistakes. However, I also had to think about what she was saying, and at the core, she was letting me know that young people have a hard time relating to their leaders, and essentially, understanding how God's grace can be relevant to their own lives. I thought about it some more, and God really held me down with some awesome comparison points to help me understand better:

-When someone close to someone passes away, everyone says 'sorry for your loss', 'I'm praying for you' etc. And the person in mourning generally nods and says thank you and moves on to the next person. Sometimes it feels like just another comment, and it doesn't really sink in. But once someone comes to them and says something like , 'I know exactly how you're feeling, my mom passed away 2 years ago,' that same person in mourning opens up, asks questions about how they coped and really finds solace and strength in speaking to that other person. Think about it.

-When we were kids [and maybe even sometimes now, lol] we all had those moments where we felt our parents had no idea what we were feeling or going through, either by assumption or by their response to something we told them. Then after this, we generally don't bring those issues up with them again or listen to their advice on those topics. Right? Now, let's think about why we didn't think they could relate. In most cases, its because they didn't level with us first in maybe saying "Yea, I got a C once, but with a bit of tutoring and hard work, I pulled my overall grade back up to the A range." They went straight to essentially waging a finger and saying "go fix it." Think about it.

There is a lot of power in leveling with people [which by the way doesn't mean agreeing with something that is wrong]. A life coach of mine said something to me once that I've held onto for a while. She said "You touch people's lives by being relatable. Imperfection makes us relatable." And there's so much truth to that. We all love and want to learn more about the underdogs who overcame something, or learned from a mistake. How much more are we then able to show the power of God in our lives by showing people the way God makes us better? About how God turned us from crackheads to choir girls, or turned our self hatred into confidence? When you go straight to "I am a choir girl today' or 'I love myself today' a large piece of that same testimony is lost. There isn't much strength in hiding our flaws and putting up a perfect front. It's hard for anyone to see what weakness God made strong.

So, back to my dinner the other day. I kept discussing with the group about different things that happened with me, and eventually got to the day that I surrendered it all to Christ. It was during worship at church, and it was the first time I felt His spirit on me and was amazing. I wanted to continue that feeling every day, so I started setting some morning time aside each day to just pray and worship and it was great. Until one day, I fell again. I was back to doing something that I knew was wrong, and I couldn't really bring myself to sing or pray for too long anymore. It was like when you do something to hurt your significant other, and you dread going back into their presence to explain yourself. I was sorry, but didn't feel like I really deserved to be back in His presence, so I just didn't go for a while. But eventually, I had to realize that His mercies truly are new every morning, and that's one of the many things that make Him different and greater than any person. And He could stand there for as long as he wants with outstretched hands offering me His grace, but if I didn't reach out to accept it, I wouldn't have it. So I prayed, confessed and worshiped and let that be the end of that. Of course, that wasn't the last time I ever sinned, but I learned to not let Satan keep me captive because of it. And then finally this young lady opened up and told me that this was how she felt sometimes, just not wanting or being able to pray, or go into His presence, but that she was happy to hear that someone else felt that and was able to get over that, so she can too. This definitely brought a smile to my heart, and also a lesson that God can use anyone, and use what the devil meant for evil for good. It's just up to me to share and boast in my weaknesses to show the world how God makes me strong. I probably would not have been able to get to a place to discuss this with her or anyone else without first sharing, and putting a few cards on the table. It would have been a very theoretic conversation. But sometimes, showing a theory in practice makes it real, helps people understand it better, and how to relate it to their own lives. If every Math class was just a teacher putting an equation on the board, we'd probably be in trouble in the medical, technology and science spaces. But we know what we know because these teachers gave us the theory, and then walked us through examples and scenarios. Sometimes, its important to do this when talking about God's presence in our lives as well.

It's interesting to read just a bit earlier in 2nd Corinthians 12, where Paul says "I will not boast about myself except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say." - v5-6 I think this is interesting because he's essentially saying that he wants to stay leveled with others, where he shares his weaknesses, but [as v 9 alludes to ]everyone still sees good fruit and understand that it is God that is granting the correction and growth in His life. It's also interesting because anyone who know's Saul/Paul knows his story, and where God brought him from because he told it so many times, boasting to everyone about how God brought him from killing Christians, to preaching and spreading the gospel. We all draw inspiration from this, but how many of us inspire others in the same way? I know I don't really measure up. Like I always say, I'm blogging as I'm learning, not because I have it all right. The story above was one of the first, but by His grace it won't be the last, because I'm learning and growing in Him!

So back to the image above. Let's show everyone that God is merciful. That isn't to condone sin, or say anything that isn't true, but show people that it isn't too late to be free from it. Redemption, grace and forgiveness is for everyone. Remember THAT'S the good news that we'rechaLet's stretch out our palms and show everyone the grace that God has given us and how He makes us strong. There's so much power in that testimony. Amen?