When I was in college, I worked at a day camp at a church near Atlanta. I had these three awesome summers of work, each better than the last. The last summer I had the opportunity to be the director of one of the sections of camp. I feel like I was in the sweet spot of my strengths. Being involved with kids, leading other leaders, big picture vision casting, and administration of one section of the camp. I remember thinking I could do for the rest of my life. It’s pretty amazing to see God use the strengths He has given us for His glory!
But what about when He doesn’t? Hear me out. Have you ever been at a point in life or working on a job or in a situation where you have asked God, “Why?” Or maybe something to the extent of, “God you have given me xyz gifts, why do you have me doing this? This doesn’t fit my gifting.” I have to admit one thing I have said, “Why did you give me these gifts and then not have me use them? Am I doing the wrong thing?” If I am honest, these are glimpses of my pride and confidence in my own abilities over God’s perfect plan. We often think our ways are better and make more sense. This is far more dangerous than we realize, we are essentially relying on our own power and independence instead of God’s love, wisdom, and sovereignty. When scripture calls us to only boast in the Lord as it says in Jeremiah 9:23-24
‘Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, let no the mighty man boast of his might, let not the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, the I am the Lord that practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”’ (Jer 9:23-24)
When I start to think about being in situations where someone didn’t get to use their strengths, I can’t help but think of Joseph. From scripture we see that he is clearly a man of great gifting, but also a man of great reliance on God. Joseph had a life of high highs, and low lows. In Genesis 39-41, he is in prison. Surely this was not the vision Joseph had for his life. But in the weakest and lowest states of his life, God uses Joseph to reveal His power and to redeem Israel.
Personally, I find myself working out of my weaknesses instead of strengths more often than I would like. I find myself living in situations that are hard and uncomfortable. Maybe you are in the same boat. Be encouraged, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says,
‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”’ (2 Cor 12:9-10)
When we are weak, Christ’s power shows through strong! As Paul David Tripp puts it in his book New Morning Mercies, “The delusional assessment of independent strength locks you out of the place where strength is found. The hopelessness of weakness is the only door to real strength.” Dwell on that for a minute, our weakness leads us to the Lord, the place where true strength is found. On the contrary, when we rely on our strengths, we are not letting the power of Christ in. So whether it is a situation, a job, a personal sin, or a tendency in your own personality leaving you feeling weak today, remember it is when we come to the Lord in our weakness that we are made strong in Christ’s power.