While I’m mainly planning to do more reading about weakness, etc over the summer, I’ve still been thinking about it this week. I’ve had one thought as a result of talking to my pastor, Mark, and one thought as a result of watching a short clip about JI Packer.
Thought 1: Identifying weakness
The course of my conversation with Mark ended up in the question of what disqualifies someone from leadership, and, in particular, whether my own weaknesses and failings make me unsuitable for leadership. That’s a pretty confronting question, but it’s one I’m determined to ask honestly.
Mark said a number of helpful things that might contribute to my overall thinking on this issue but the one that stuck out to me was his suggestion that if a person is asking that question, it’s actually a cause for encouragement – because they see the weaknesses and want to grow in them. It reminded me of something from 1 John which I wrote an essay on earlier this year. The writer talks about how if you don’t see your sin, you deceive yourself and the truth is not in you. While many Christians are discouraged when they see sin in their lives, their ability to see it and their grief over it is actually a work of God’s Spirit.
So it’s not that weakness makes a person unsuitable for leadership but how they respond to it. One response is to be aware of it which leads to dependence on God – I suspect that’s part of what’s going on in 2 Cor 12 as well. I think there’s more to it than this but I wonder if this will be a helpful building block.
Thought 2: Greatest Strength = Greatest Weakness?
There’s a new book about the life and ministry of JI Packer. Carl Trueman contributes a chapter and argues (among other things) that JI Packer missed his opportunity to be THE leader in his generation – to write the definitive systematic theology of the 20th century and to become the leading light of non-conformist British evangelicalism.
Trueman argues that Packer’s insistence on remaining Anglican marginalised his views and that his reticence to ‘put himself out there’ meant that he didn’t gain the appropriate profile, in contrast to someone like Martin Lloyd Jones. It’s not to say he didn’t have a significant ministry but that his ministry was the faithful plod of a quiet minister. Trueman identifies that this was Packer’s greatest strength, that he didn’t seek acclaim for himself. At the same time, he identifies it as a strategic weakness in terms of thinking about what Packer *could* have done.
Is the old cliche that one’s greatest strength is also one’s greatest weakness correct? One could argue the case for Moses – his inadequacies meant God got the glory. I wonder how this would work for Samson though….
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.