Why You Need to Get Real About Your Weaknesses

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Instead of hiding and denying our weaknesses, we need to learn to recognize them. We need to learn to share them. And we need to learn to glory in our weaknesses.

If God is ever going to use you greatly, you’ll walk with a limp the rest of your life. I have struggled with a handicap all my life. I was born with a brain disorder. My staff knows about it. My church knows about it. My prayer team knows about it. I was born with a disorder in my brain chemistry that makes public speaking excruciatingly painful for me. It is a genetic problem that is resistant to any medication.

In a nutshell, my brain over reacts to adrenaline. I’m allergic to adrenaline. First I get very dizzy. My vision blurs and then it blacks out. Sometimes I get headaches – severe headaches and sometimes severe hot flashes. Any of you who have ever seen me speak have seen me wipe my face. But the most common reaction to this is an absolute sense of irrational panic. Sometimes I’m speaking and I cannot even see the audience.

One of the things I’ve figured out is that God has used this to build a praying church at Saddleback. I wouldn’t think of preaching without having my prayer team praying for me during the message. And they pray for me during each service through the entire service. What’s the lesson? God uses weak people! Paul had a handicap and he said, “I glory in my weakness.” It is an absolute myth that you must be a super human being to be effective in ministry. The goal is to last. What kind of ministries last? Ones that are real and authentic and vulnerable and honest and non-hypocritical about our weaknesses.

I believe that there are two great pillars of ministry. Paul’s confession and Peter’s confession. These are the two great pillars of ministry. Peter’s confession was, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Obviously, ministry is built on that one, which is found in Mark chapter 8. But Acts 14:15 is just as important, which is Paul’s confession at Iconium where he says, “We are but men.”

I have met many pastors who are very interested in declaring their spirituality. But I haven’t met too many pastors in my life who are interested in declaring their humanity. But your humanity is actually one of your greatest strengths.

God loves to use weak people to work his life through and work His work through. Why? 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to put the wise men to shame. And what the world considers weak in order to put powerful men to shame. He receives glory.” God puts His greatest gifts in ordinary containers so that He alone gets the credit.

What are the benefits of weaknesses in our lives?

  1. Weaknesses create a dependence on God.
  2. Weaknesses prevent pride and act as a governor in your life.
  3. Weaknesses cause a greater dependence upon other people.
  4. Weaknesses expand our capacity to minister.

If you’re going to have a Christlike ministry, it means that sometimes other people are going to find healing in the wounds that are in your life. Who can better help an alcoholic than someone who is a former alcoholic? Who can better help a childless couple than a childless couple? Who can better help than the person who’s been there? I believe that our greatest life messages come out of our deepest hurts.

Your weaknesses can only help the people in your church if you’ll have the guts to share them. There are things that you have never told your church that they need to know so that they can pray for you. Vulnerability enhances your leadership. All of us are a bundle of strengths and weaknesses. I have some very great strengths. I also have some very great weaknesses. And so do you. Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. Humility is not me saying, “I don’t know how to preach.” I do. I know how to craft sermons. But humility is saying, “In addition to those strengths, let me tell you a few things about myself.”

We’re all combinations. Paul was honest about his strengths because he was honest about his weaknesses. He wasn’t claiming perfection. He was just saying, “At least I’m making an attempt to live for Jesus. Follow me.” How you handle the weaknesses in your life will determine whether they help you or hinder you. People want to follow a pastor who’s real. You don’t have to be super-gifted to grow a church, but you do have to be real. The more honest you are about your weaknesses the more you’re perceived as being real. The more real you are the more credibility you have. The more credibility you have, the more influence you have. The more influence you have, the more you can get done.

Maybe it’s time to get real.


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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 Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

  • BobOz

    Such wisdom & such humility. I still got a lot to learn in this area. Thank you for your sharing…. God bless you for your pearls of wisdom, which are always shared so generously, and always in such plain & simple words… I will uphold you in my daily prayer re your weakness too. Just want to thank God for pastor like you. God bless you & your family too……

  • College Grandma

    Thank you Pastor Rick for this encouragement. I’m not in any leadership role but have gone back to college as a very mature student to get the degree I thought I had missed out on. I was looking forward to enjoying study and I achieved good marks in my first year but on starting my second year I seem to have hit a wall and can’t concentrate to study. I have been facing the thought that I will have to give up and the thought that I am not as able as I had thought, in fact I have a disability and I’m week. But I just happened to click on your page and read of your disability. I needed to be reminded that I too am making an attempt to follow Jesus, and how I handle my weaknesses will determine whether they help or hinder me. And the Lord reminded as I read your post.

  • Steve Cooper

    One of my pastor friends just tweeted that this message blew his mind. I’m glad he agrees with me that the authenticity of your story leaves me in shambles, destroyed in all the right places. Thanks for sharing, and you do it so eloquently. Be well!

  • alvin

    It is refreshing when we are real and honest with God, with ourselves and others. I am a small group leader and i shared a weakness with our group. It is liberating ..!

  • Dennis

    It is good to know that in the pursuit of holiness we are not called to deny our humanity.

  • Brad

    This has been resonating to me more and more as I am coming closer to entering vocational ministry. We are not perfect and I know my weaknesses will be and are being used for God’s glory!

  • Bill LaMorey

    I’m teaching on weakness this Sunday and I just received this post via email in the midst of my prep. There are a couple great thoughts here that are not only helpful to me, but I’m sure will be helpful to our church. So, thank you!

    • Antoine Haddad

      Although i am not a pastor , those who pretended or claimed to be very spiritual to the extent that they can not sin, were stumbling blocks to my spiritual journey. Like Paul , i have learned to acknowledge my weaknesses and praise God for his immense grace.Thank you pastor Rick Warren

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