Weak? Broken? Damaged? Great!
Now God Can Use You!
Dr. David W. Miller
Rocky Hill Community Church, Exeter CA
I much prefer strength over weakness, smooth over dented, shiny over scratched, perfecting working order over broken, self-confidence over doubts, brilliant over stupid, and flawless over cracked. We all do. But God doesn’t. If He did, none of could be used of Him.
We are all weak, dented, scratched, broken, doubting, stupid and cracked! Some of us just don’t know it, so God cannot use us.
The church should be a place where we get real. No pretending. Vulnerability. Transparency. Admitted imperfections. And this starts at the top. As a pastor, I’m learning to lead as God would want me to lead—out of my weakness.
Jesus refused to remove the great Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (The Message paraphrases it — “gift of a handicap”), even though Paul pleaded with God over and over for it to be eradicated. The great apostle with the gift of healing was left unhealed. Why? God’s answer to Paul’s prayer was this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Now get this, Paul then learned to “gladly boast” and “delight” in his weaknesses (note the plural) because that meant “Christ’s power” rested on him! He was handicapped and happy! Paul understood his weakness released God’s power. He then spoke this true paradox, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8).
I began my first full-time pastorate at the age of 26 with all-out passion for God. The church of 250 more than tripled in less than two years. I stood in front of my denomination at the national convention to receive an award for the fastest growing church in my bracket.
But my marriage was a mess. Those warm strong feelings of love were gone. And it was all my fault. I guarded myself against other women, but made my ministry my mistress. My church and denomination saw a great success, but I knew differently. Other pastors wanted to know my secret. The real secret was a sick workaholism dressed up in spiritual ministry. I resigned that church after just two years of exploding growth. I wept before my wife, telling her she would be my earthly priority love, not the church. God broke me. I invested time and attention to my wife. God restored those loving feelings many-fold!
I now share that failure and that weakness. I’m a better pastor for it. I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I now admit it. It’s God gift to make me more dependent upon him.
I have some faults that I don’t admit. As a leader, one can overdo transparency. One wise pastor advised me, “Be honest, but don’t go too far–when a preacher gets naked before his church it becomes a distraction that will dismiss!” We all should keep some clothes on as we admit our dirty laundry. On the other hand, a pastor who never admits any weaknesses or failures is a fake and grows a flock of pretenders.
God’s word calls us earthen vessels. Not iron pots, but clay pots. We crack easily. in a real sense, we are all crackpots!
There is a fable from India of a water carrier who suspended two large water pots from the ends of a pole across his neck. One pot had a crack in it, the other flawless. The cracked pot arrived at the house half full each day, while the perfect pot was always full. The perfect pot bragged of his fullness. The cracked pot told his carrier he was ashamed that he leaked so much water out. The water carrier then told the cracked pot to notice his side of the path from the stream on the way home. The cracked pot saw the many lovely flowers. The water carrier said, “Your flaw has watered these colorful flowers so that I can bring them to my master’s table. Without your crack, there would be no flowers. You bring water and flowers. You are more useful to the master.”
Job used a broken piece of pottery to scrape his sores. Broken people are better healers.
The world says, “Get your act together.”
God says, “Get ‘a broken and contrite heart’” (Psalm 51:17).
© 2014 David W. Miller