If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:30)
I am weak.
There, I said it - and in our society, that is not an easy thing to say. We don’t tend to delight in being weak. It’s not something we put on our resume or CV. It’s not something we chose to mention at a job interview. When we are at sucn an interview, we tend to be asked “What are your strengths?” I am not aware of any job interview where the interviewer has started with the question, “What are your weaknesses?”
It’s not fun to be weak. Weakness means being deficient in some area and dependent on others. That isn’t something that is easy to admit, or easy to live with. We like to be self-sufficient, even in the world of Christians and the church. I would much prefer to be the one helping others than being the one who is helped. I would prefer to be strong and helping those who are weak than admitting I am the one who is weak and needing strength from others.
I am going through a time of particular weakness at the moment and so I am particular aware of my weakness and the need to be honest about it. But that awareness of weakness and honesty about admitting it is not something for this season alone. It is something that marks out the Christian, and the Christian life.
The apostle Paul puts it this way: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Corinthians 11:30) Again he says, “for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” (2 Corinthians 12:10). He goes on to affirm that, in Jesus Christ, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” But it begins with admitting, even boasting, that we are weak.
You can come across a great deal of writing from Christians about leadership and calling and gifts, much of which is very helpful and encouraging. But there is a danger that it can lead us to focus on areas where we feel we are strong and equipped and gifted. The apostle Paul would lead us down a different path. He was certainly called, equipped and gifted in a lot of different ways. But he invites us to boast not in calling, or gifts, or strengths, but in weakness. To be willing to be weak and to admit our weakness and find in that the first steps of a new way of living.