It happened again. You’re working hard at church and no one seems to notice. Or, you know you are really good at what you do, but people don’t seem to listen or pay attention. People don’t seem to appreciate your work. Maybe they aren’t listening to you. Frustration creeps up on you….again. This is getting getting old. This ministry is yours to get done, and you’re going to make sure it’s done right. If you are using your gifts and strengths the way God gave them to you, then why do you feel overrun and underappreciated?
Could it be, friend, your strengths have turned into weaknesses?
How is that possible? Strengths are the skills and talents where you excel. Your gifts are the abilities given to you by God.
How can strengths become weaknesses?
Strengths become weaknesses when we rely on our abilities more that our relationship with God. Doing things on our own power instead of relying on Him is a sure-fire way to turn a strength into a weakness. It’s so easy to do because…well… it’s a strength! How can this be?
Strengths become weaknesses when we blow past relationships with people in order to get stuff done or to make sure the rules get followed just the right way.
Instead of helping us fulfill God’s purpose, strength turned into weakness will actually hold us back.
Strengths become weaknesses when our task or ministry becomes more important than our relationship with Jesus or the relationships with the people around us.
Here’s Two Ways Strengths Become Weaknesses
- Strengths are not surrendered.
- Strengths are out of alignment.
When strength is not Surrendered.
Martha’s strengths were not surrendered.
We know the familiar story of Mary and Martha. Martha was so busy getting supper ready. She wanted it to be perfect. It was her responsibility. She knew exactly how it was supposed to get done and exactly the best way to do it. She was good at hosting dinners like these, and everyone knew it. She was known for amazing meals, and people always raved about the delicious dinners at her house.
However, Martha found herself stressed and frustrated…again. How could her sister leave her hanging like this when Jesus was an important guest this evening? Martha was pushing and forcing in her strength to get it all done. Sound familiar? (yeah, me too)
Yes, it was what she was supposed to do. Yes, it was what she was equipped to do, and she was good at it. But, her strengths weren’t surrendered and put in their proper position. Her strengths were not submitted and surrendered to Jesus.
What surrender looks like
Surrender is recognizing that Jesus is in control. Surrender is attending to and spending time with Him first. Instead of using our strengths in our own power, surrender is using our strengths with Jesus’ power. Working with Him by listening to him. Using strengths while being led by Him.
If Martha’s strengths were surrendered to Jesus, the meal would have still gotten done, she would not have been stressed and resentful about Mary sitting at His feet, and she would have probably spent some time with the Master herself.
When Strength is out of alignment.
The Pharisees’ strengths were out of alignment.
The Pharisees loved rules more than people. They were not only experts at following the Law, they were trained in knowing it, understanding it, and teaching it. Provided by God, the Law, at that time, was the foundation of their lives. It was their job to lead the people in obedience to the Law, so they were doing what God told them to do. However, they loved the law more than people. They followed the letter of the Law more than the heart of the Law. They loved the power and the status that being in their position afforded them, and they lorded it over the people that they were supposed to be leading with love.
What alignment looks like
I’m so thankful we don’t follow the Law; we are under grace. Even though obedience to Scripture continues to be a foundation of our faith as followers of Jesus, we still must make sure following the rules don’t overtake loving people. Our relationships with people must come first. We follow the rules with the best interest of people in mind. We allow for consideration of people’s needs, feelings, circumstances when following the rules.
The heart of the Gospel is to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
There’s the alignment right there- love God, then love people.
The rules are there to help us love people in the proper manner. The rules are there to help love the people better.
If you find yourself with strengths turning into weaknesses (like I have), ask yourself the following questions:
Am I doing this in my own power?
Am I working with Jesus or on my own?
Do I care more about the thing getting done or the people around me?
When strengths are surrendered to the Holy Spirit, we work in association with God. Being led by the Holy Spirit, He uses our strengths. Strengths surrendered are powerful and effective and much more gets accomplished for the Kingdom.
When strengths are in alignment, relationships flourish. People are more important than rules, programs or procedures. Rules and programs were made to make room for relationships to grow- not people for following rules.
What strengths do you struggle to keep from becoming weaknesses?