Getting older stinks.
It's just not as easy anymore to maintain my physical health. If I'm traveling a lot for speaking engagements, and I can't keep up my exercise routine, I lose any gains I've made within days. Yet as soon as I'm off the road again, I'm back to sweating, trying to cover up any evidence of slacking off. Lather, rinse, repeat.
As broken, hurting people, it can be easy to fall into the perfection trap. That often leads us to try to hide our weaknesses. But that also means we rely on ourselves instead of God to overcome them.
Maybe the deficiency you're trying to mask isn't about your physical fitness. Maybe yours is relational, and your marriage is in turmoil, or it's financial, and you're drowning in debt. Maybe it's professional, and you're struggling to lead a united team; or it's emotional, and you're battling anxiety or depression. Whatever your weakness is, how often do you give it to God? How often do you not try to cover it up?
None of us will be perfect in this life, so striving for perfection is futile. Now don't get me wrong; I want to continually learn and grow. I want to always strive to do and be better. Those things are healthy and good.
But perfection is a pipe dream this side of heaven. I look forward to a perfect body and endless energy when I go home to Christ, but until then, I have to manage what I have in all of its messiness.
If we ministry leaders aren't careful, we can easily become perfectionists. We're so worried about what would happen if people found out we really don't have it all together we try desperately to make it look like we do.
The pressure to appear perfect can be emotionally—and in my case, physically—draining. And we often try to manage all of that by ourselves—without the help of Christ, who is perfect in every way. Most of the time, we don't even realize we're doing it.
Logically, we know that only Christ is perfect. We know He doesn't expect perfection from us, and neither should we. But for most of us, that logic doesn't translate to realistic performance expectations. We forget we can have God's perfect strength now.
It's ironic that we as ministry leaders need to be reminded of this truth more than many of the people who attend our churches or volunteer in our ministries. My hunch? We're so familiar with this idea—we hear it, speak it and teach it so often—that we have become desensitized.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul reminds us of how much God's strength has the power to transform us. He tells the people of Corinth what Jesus told him: "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
When I think of all the ways God has displayed His strength over generations, I'm embarrassed to admit I've not allowed that strength to rest in me. I want to be a leader who lives a life of God-sized strength. And from what the Bible says, there's no reason I can't.
I'm done being the kind of Christian whose life shows little evidence I have a powerful God working on my behalf—a God who makes me strong using the weakest parts of me. I'm tired of battling guilt from the enemy to the point of exhaustion. In this constant pursuit of perfection, I'm giving myself over to God. The enemy is no match for His strength.
How about you? Are you done pretending you're perfect? Are you done worrying that your flaws will cripple your ability to lead well? It's time to begin seeing our deficiencies as prime real estate for God's presence to take up residence. You might feel as though your greatest weakness is holding you back, but it's actually where God wants to show off in your life the most.
Today, you can be strong, not in spite of weakness, but because of it. Perfect strength shows up only in our weakness—if we allow it. If we're really serving and leading in ministry for His glory and not ours, let's rely on His strength—and glorify Him when He makes us perfectly strong.
Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor and speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stations across the country, "Chris Brown's True Stewardship" provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. Follow him at stewardship.com, on Twitter (@chrisbrownonair) or on Facebook (chrisbrownonair).
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