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We talk about ministry often, and we should. Usually we approach it from the standpoint of giftedness, anointing, resources, vision, values and mission. We train for it, go to school to study it, buy books on the subject—once again, as we should. After all, “ministry” is simply a fancy word for work or service.

Ministry is much more than a profession or occupation, however. It’s a way of life every believer should aspire to. In God’s economy, we are all ministers with a common goal of living the life Christ gives us through His Spirit, which brings honor and glory to our Father.

Yes, our knowledge, skill, experience, giftedness and training are essential tools in developing our ability to serve others. Where would we be without them? And how can we help others unless we hone our gifts and focus our efforts, leveraging the opportunities God provides to reap the abundant harvest all around us? Yet, I believe the most powerful tool for fruitful ministry we possess is most often neglected. That attribute is our weakness!

Human weakness is perhaps the most profound, yet misunderstood, ministry-related concept in the Scripture, and it’s understandable that we don’t talk about it very much. It’s like staring in the bathroom mirror first thing in the morning—not a pretty picture. Now, we can quickly fix the issues presented to us by the mirror on the wall, but how does the Lord help us with the flaws and faults revealed in us by the mirror of the Word?

Consider these indisputable facts:

  • God’s grace and mercy are His response to our weakness.
  • We are too weak to change our woeful condition, so He gave His Son.
  • Even our strengths and gifts are inadequate to achieve righteousness and holiness before Almighty God, so He gave us His Spirit.
  • Our best intentions are rife with selfishness, so He sheds His love abroad in our hearts.
  • Our wisdom is foolishness to God, and our knowledge simply makes us arrogant, so He gives us the mind of Christ.

Could it be God is attracted to our weakness? It’s in our frailty that we realize His strength, love and grace are more than sufficient. Suddenly, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” makes sense! (See Matt. 5:3, NKJV.)

Many of God’s great displays of power are clothed in weakness and utter foolishness. Think of it:

  • Abraham fathered many nations through Sarah’s barren womb.
  • Gideon’s army was whittled down from 28,000 to 300 before God could use them.
  • God chose a pitiful nation of slaves and called them His chosen people.
  • The King of Glory chose the womb of a virgin as His pathway into the world.
  • That King became the Lamb that meekly laid aside His life and power, that we might possess them.

Weakness is the theme that pulsed through the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. Consider the word Jesus spoke to him as he prayed concerning his infirmities: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Cor. 12:9).

I don’t suggest we pray for weakness, as it is our natural condition. But I am challenging you (and myself) to consider the awesome platform we give the Lord when we present to Him the weak things we’d rather hide. Those things are precisely the point of entry for His amazing grace.

If we do the spiritual math, the formula looks like this: My Weakness + His Strength = True Ministry! So, the next time you ask God to use you, remember He’ll show Himself strong when you are real enough to be weak.

a music minister at New Life, a Foursquare church in Canby, Ore.