How to Lead (and Preach) Through Your Weaknesses


Rev. Thomas Chalmers, 1780 - 1847. Preacher and social reformer (shown preaching)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!

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Rick Warren About Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

  • Abel

    Am blessed by the message, is an eye opener to me, what is required from in to run a ministry. Also to know that it should be focused to bless others. A work that begins with relationship with God flow to others.

  • baboni

    Il fill more human, thank you, i’m so blessed with that word

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  • Jeff Aw

    Thank you Pastor Rick for the reminder. In recently years the Lord has been teaching this truth of staying truthful and humble while pastoring His church. I fully agree with your statement: when you share your weaknesses = Community. Experiencing that while sharing my weaknesses with the leaders under my charge and even with my congregation. Of course with wisdom we share appropriately.

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  • http://Howtoleadandpreachthroughyourweakness clementina levave

    Thankyou Pst Rick,
    I love the way you have communicated this simply and very effectively.I have drawn strenght from it and will reread from time to time as i need it.

  • Bee Smith

    Mr. Warren, Though these shared thoughts are indeed inspiring, the only way to they are of any immeasurable use is to act on them in faith to anyone at anytime. Welcome to the ordinary life of God’s extraordinary pulse to love our Creator, one another, and ourselves in every thought that pre-shapes our action.

  • Matthew Nelson

    Thank you so much for this. This will help me greatly in my future!

  • Lawrence Emmanuel

    Praying the spirit

  • Pastor Rajasekaran

    Dear pastor Rick,
    Truly Christian is he ministers to the heart ,because it comes from the broken and healed heart.
    We Christian leaders learn a lot to cope with our weakness.
    God bless you to be blessing to the world
    Pastor raj ,India

  • Lawrence Lamptey

    Hi Rick,
    Thanks so much for this article. you have really helped me to deal with my greatest weakness is anger and I think your article will help me to deal with it in my ministry.

    Thank you

  • JB Lim

    Great word Pastor Rick! Thanks so much!

  • Andrew Salameh

    Great article. As always from our dear pastor Rick

  • Brandon

    Great reminder. Just like Paul wrote, “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.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

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