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Strength (The Weakness Series)

Thanks to those who have responded with real concern to The Weakness Series (over at the Ridley blog as well), particularly in wanting to encourage me that God uses the weak and to just get on with ministry, trusting him. However, part of the reason I want to think about this is not because I lack confidence, but because I want to offer my best to God and I want to know what that is.

So I’ve been thinking more about clarifying my question. It’s not “Am I competent enough to be used by God?” Rather, it’s, “Am I weak enough to bring glory to God?” Before you start getting annoyed with the arrogance of such a statement, let me explain. One of the reasons that God uses the weak is that then when he works, he gets the glory. One of the most striking Old Testament examples of that is when God depletes Gideon’s army so that they won’t think that they won the battle. While I don’t think that’s necessarily prescriptive for Christian ministry, it’s an interesting principle to consider. As I add skill after skill to my ministry artillery at college, there’s a danger of coming to rely on my own abilities, or, just as dangerous, that even if I rely on God, that my competence may cause others to credit me with God’s work.

I don’t say that because I’m a particularly accomplished minister, but because I think it’s a question for any minister from the West. We are arguably the wealthiest, most educated, most skilled up generation since the birth of the church. We are strong and competent. And yet, I wonder if that is our, indeed my, greatest problem. Without a skill deficiency, do we fail to understand that ministry happens because God does it?

Maybe? What do you reckon? Tell me:

  • What would be the key indicators that we have worked out that God is the one who does the ministry, not us?
  • Do you think our skill profusion is a weakness?
  • If so, how ought we respond to that as our weakness? Accept that God can work throught it? Attempt to become ‘weaker’?

Categories: God Ministry & mission Written by Tamie

Tagged as:

Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.

2 replies

  1. We had a message from Stephen today about weakness in ministry, looking at Daniel 1. The 4 young Israelites were good looking, wise and learned(v3-4), but that wasn’t what mattered. What put them in the role of serving the king was what God did, in others (v9) and in them (v17) where God gave them all skill and wisdom.

    So thinking about some of your questions, it didn’t seem to be a problem that these were skilled young men. However, their real gifting came from God, and while it is not explicit in this section, I think that an awareness of that is key. Abilities can be a weakness if we rely on them rather than God. So the response I guess is to give God the credit he is due. Perhaps Paul’s comments about weakness are as much an attitude thing as a real lack of ability?

    I think, at least from personal experience, that prayer is the biggest indicator of whether we see God doing the ministry or us. We can all say that our gifts are from God, but where that comes out in practice is that if we see God doing the ministry, we will spend time talking to him about it. When we skip that, that is when we can see that we are relying on our abilities. It is also that we pray about what we are worried about; if we know we are able to do something, we don’t tend to worry about it.

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