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The secret strength of weakness


The Life Less Traveled


March 13, 2013
I have a friend who is brilliant at his job but stinks in interviews. The last time he applied for a job, they asked him two classic interview questions: What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? He did OK on the strengths one, but when they got to the weakness part, he froze up, just couldn't think of anything. You know how that is. The pressure is on and you go completely blank.

Eventually, I think he said he worked too hard, but by then they were trying to figure out if he was arrogant or just off his medication.

The whole weakness thing is one of the worst interview questions of all time and has turned even the most noble of saints into flat-out liars. Seriously, how are you supposed to answer that question? Weaknesses? Well, let's see. I never show up on time. I'm pretty lazy, ridiculously disorganized and, on a bad day, have been known to start small fires. Oh yeah, when my last boss tried to send me to anger management classes, I knocked out his windshield. Will that be a problem?

C'mon, they don't seriously expect you to tell them the stuff that you're hoping they won't figure out until they hire you, right?

Truth be told, the interviewer isn't really asking you to talk about your weaknesses. They're asking for you to talk about your acceptable weaknesses and how you've managed around them. Acceptable weaknesses include working too hard, caring too much and not being good at saying no. Unacceptable weaknesses include pretty much everything else.

But that's how it goes in America. Even apart from job interviews, we're a culture that despises weakness. That's why we treat celebrities and the super wealthy like gods and neglect the poor and elderly. That's why we're programmed from the earliest ages to hide our mistakes and pass the buck. The last thing anyone is supposed to do is admit they've blown it.

Ironically, God is really into weakness. It's ironic because, well, He doesn't have any. He is the source of all strength, and He knows just how weak we truly are. He sees every flaw, every shortcoming, every ounce of weakness. Yet, instead of despising or denouncing us, He treats this weakness as a perfect opportunity to show the world what He can do.

The Bible actually says that God's strength is made perfect in weakness. In other words, when I'm authentic about the weakness in my life, I set the stage for God to do something awesome with me. God doesn't choose the strong to change the world. He chooses the least of us so that at the end of the day, when He breaks an addiction or mends a marriage or turns a life around, there can be no doubt who gets the credit.

Why is it important God gets the credit? Well, first of all, He deserves it. Second, the more people who see what He can do with a messed-up life, the more messed-up people will bring their own weakness to Him. If God can do something with a guy like me, then surely there's hope for anybody.

So, the next time someone asks you about your weaknesses, use it as an opportunity to brag about God's strength. When you're honest about your limitations and dependent on His power, you'll create the right conditions where God can do things with your life you never would have thought were possible.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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