This past Saturday looked nothing like my previous post. Actually, I could label this past Saturday as Extreme Casual Saturday, so that kind of fits.
I turned down a quick 24 hour trip to Dallas with a friend, wrote out a long list of things I needed to accomplish and then promptly sat on my couch with my computer propped up on my coffee table and my Bible and journal in my lap and unintentionally joined in on the IF:Gathering all day long from the comfort of my own home. Thank you, Internet. Thank you, Livestream. Although I didn’t plan to do that, it was good, very good in fact, but my to-do list still sits stagnant waiting for me to cross things off my list.
But that’s okay. Sometimes it’s good for me to throw out my list of things to get done and just be. I’m a way better Martha than I am Mary.
The IF:Gathering consisted of a handful of leaders and teachers, all women, who came together despite (I’m sure) their many differences and opinions to encourage women to do what they’ve been called to do. They each brought their own word, their own teaching style, their own wisdom, and their own calling. It was a beautiful picture of what Heaven will look like; each one of us loving and serving Jesus in our own unique ways and encouraging others to do so.
I walked away built up in my faith and with a journal full of notes to look back on in the coming weeks.
But there was one theme that kept pressing in on me. One word.
I don’t think this was any coincidence, because the past few months one thing I’ve really been observing and learning is how our fearless leader points out, speaks to and encourages what strengths she sees in her coworkers. She does so as boss and friend in the gentlest way. It’s not every day and it’s not all the time, but it is very specific and let me tell you, it is life giving, encouraging those strengths. That Beth, what a lady, I’m thankful for her wisdom and kindness.
Especially as social media continues to grow wider and bigger, we as a society, and we as women, do a really great job at pointing out one another’s weaknesses. It’s sad, really. We can go day in and day out and talk all about how this person or that person struggles with this or that when never once mention the strengths the Lord has given them and the good they do. Without the fruit of self-control, our tongues are killing each other one by one and we’re okay to let it slide. If we were brutally honest, we could admit that it’s easier to talk about what one is lacking out of our jealousy, insecurity and pride rather than what one is thriving at. Not only does it make us feel better, but it allows us to keep our distance without getting called out. Ouch.
But can you imagine what unity we might take back if we capitalized on each other’s strengths instead of weaknesses? If we used our tongue to encourage what good we see in others as opposed to blasting what we think could be worked on to our people? We are called to build each other up, not tear one another down. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of the latter. And I am making myself sick to my stomach.
Last I checked, the Lord’s power is made perfect in our weakness, so it would be wisest for us to leave those weaknesses in His hands and trust Him with that. He will do a far better job of working those out than any of us ever will. He capitalizes on our weaknesses to show Himself powerful and sovereign. It’s our weaknesses He carries. It’s our weaknesses He heals. When we capitalize on each other’s weaknesses it only reveals our pride and lack of honor. Pharisees look for weaknesses while the humble and lowly look for the strengths. If anyone is going to boast about weaknesses, let us boast about our own so that God’s glory might be seen.
I’m not saying there is no room for correction if the Lord has given us that authority, but how about we go back to the rule of if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all, or for heaven’s sake, find something nice to say. Not everyone is your enemy and not everyone is your competitor. And news flash, you are just as sinful as your next-door neighbor! We are all so deeply flawed. Help us, Jesus.
Humbly edify in private and in public and expect nothing in return instead of publicly or privately humiliate. That’s something we could all work on.
I have a new goal that should have been put into practice long before today: To capitalize on people’s strengths instead of their weaknesses and leave those up to Jesus. To see them as Jesus sees them! Imagine the unity! Join me, would you?
Let it be.
Forgive us, Lord, for our pettiness, our slander, our pride and our sin. You are a gracious and merciful Redeemer.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10