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I grew up in a wonderful home, but, like all families, we had our weaknesses. The line between what was considered backtalk and open conversation was blurred. As a result, I entered into marriage somewhat emotionally repressed, and I struggled with the hard conversations that keep a marriage healthy. I’ve learned a thing or two over the past few years, but it is still hard for me to express my emotions.

Working in churches has not helped me much in that struggle. There is enormous pressure to lead strong and minimize weakness. As leaders, we often minister in environments that can lead to burnout as we manage the high demands of our churches along with life’s stressors. We can easily become loners who have difficulty processing emotions. We struggle to foster trust or engage in raw conversations with real friends.

I could see myself becoming mechanical with those I led, still performing efficiently, but with cool detachment. Something needed to change in me.

Mark’s Gospel tells a story that has become foundational for me in these past few years. Four men, hoping for the best, took their paralyzed friend to Jesus (Mark 2:3-4, NIV):

Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

There is an important detail to catch. While it is certainly true that the men used their strength to take this paralyzed man to Jesus, it’s also true that it was the paralyzed man’s weakness that precipitated the event.

Throughout Scripture, especially as we look at the example of Jesus, we see that God is committed to revealing Himself through our weakness. When we glory in our own strength, we are in danger of building an unhealthy self-reliance. As we are open with our weakness, we can truly grasp our deep need for God’s grace and invite others into that need with us. In 2 Cor. 12:9-10, Paul wrote:

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Choosing to be a vulnerable leader will open the doors to genuinely lead others, and myself, into a desperate dependence on Jesus.

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is the senior pastor of Westside Faith Center (Eugene Westside Foursquare Church) in Eugene, Ore.