weaknesses

A Picture of Strength in Weakness

A Picture of Strength in Weakness

The most important influence to my pastoral counseling is from David Powlison. Powlison was a professor at the seminary my wife Angel graduated from and has had an indelible impact on her counseling. I had the chance to meet Powlison face-to-face a handful of times and was deeply impacted by his ministry both through Angel and through his writing. Seeing with New Eyes is the most important book I’ve ever read on Biblical counseling.

A month ago David Powlison died of cancer at age 69. He lived his last months as he lived his life: full of grace. In the midst of diminishing strength, Powlison used his trial with cancer as a trumpet for the gospel. In my Angel’s words, “He longed for God’s glory and God gave him that gift early.”

Weeks before Powlison died he wrote the closing comments at Westminster Theological Seminary’s graduation where they were delivered by his friend and colleague, Mike Emlet. Powlison’s call to step into God’s grace in the midst of our weaknesses is doubly powerful because it is a truth spoken in the midst of an extreme trial. It is a very picture of what he is speaking of: strength in weakness.

May we too be unafraid to be weak for the sake of the revelation of the strength of God.

Here is what Powlison said:[i]

Compensating for Our Weaknesses

Compensating for Our Weaknesses

I have slow feet. One of my favorite sports to play is basketball. I’m a decent player; over time my game has improved. I’m a better shooter, ball handler, and passer now than when I was when I was younger. But I’ve still got slow feet. If I play you and you have any quickness at all, I’m going to give you the three point shot and do my best to close out on you if you take it. Otherwise, you’re just going to go right around me to the hoop every time.

I compensate for my weaknesses on a basketball court. If I’m lucky and you haven’t played me much, I hope that you won’t know about this weakness. I hope that you don’t have quickness and a three point shot.

Boxers who have been hurt do the same thing. They might drop their gloves to compensate for a bruised rib or over-rely on their dominant hand if their non-dominant shoulder is hurt.

We all have weaknesses and insecurities. Where are your weaknesses? How are you compensating for them? How are you closing yourself off relationally or spiritually from having those insecurities addressed?

Most of us try to hide and compensate for our weaknesses. We are afraid of what others will think of us or we are embarrassed we haven’t been able to get ongoing sin under control. This is one of the great lies of the enemy: that masking our inadequacies is the best way to deal with them, that sharing them will make things worse, and that we can fix them on our own.