A Platform of Power(lessness)

By Danielle Hance

The world tends to idolize the rich and powerful. We look up to Donald Trump, Angelina Jolie, Justin Bieber, and Oprah because they represent some aspect of success, accomplishment, fame—images we aspire to attain.

Rarely do we look at a star and think, Wow, she is one of us! We are more likely to think, I could never be as beautiful as she is. I could never sing as well as he does.

At some level, we cannot relate to stars. They belong to another class, another category of superior people. As much as we might relate to a character they play or a song they sing, we don’t actually make a connection. Unless we are lucky enough to get a passing autograph or a backstage pass, stars are inaccessible to ordinary people of the world.

03_Hance_JNNow consider the story of our redemption as Christians, and the relationship looks a little different. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Jesus, even though he had the status and power of God, “made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7). In becoming incarnate as a baby on earth, he literally became one of us. Although he was still fully God, he was also fully human.

By descending from the heavenly throne to our earthly level, he became knowable like no other god could be. His body went through the stages of human development. He felt the entire spectrum of human emotions. He was with the people. He was so close they could touch him and be transformed.

On the cross, Jesus exposed his weakness for all to see. When he was resurrected from the dead—something nobody had thought possible—God’s power was revealed in him.

Members of some churches don’t act as though they are part of the world. Granted, we are not supposed to be “of the world,” but we are supposed to be in it (John 17:14-16).

When we are in the world, it is much harder to hide our weaknesses—and this is a good thing. A platform of powerlessness may be just what we need to witness God’s power at work in us, and to tell the world of our deliverance.

What is it about weakness that gives us a platform?

Weakness Makes Us Accessible.

“Can I interrupt a moment and just tell you I love how inarticulate you are right now?” my friend told me as I shared a vulnerable experience with him. “You are more human now.”

As much as I don’t like fumbling over my words, a willingness to let my weaker spots show allows others to relate to me. Many people believe the church accepts only perfect people, but in showing I am less than perfect, this stereotype starts to crumble.

Weakness Keeps Us Looking in the Right Direction.

I am a marathon runner. When I hit the wall during a long run, and everything hurts, and I have nothing left to give, I keep my eyes on the finish line, and my thoughts turn toward the only one capable of powering me through. When we feel stuck or incapable in and of ourselves, we tend to look up. And when he comes through for us, the world takes notice.

Weakness Keeps Us Humble.

When we are weak, we are dependent. When we are dependent, we look beyond ourselves for help. When we receive help from others, we can’t take all the credit. When we can’t take all the credit, we are more likely to give glory to God instead of ourselves. Humbling, yes. But when we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, he lifts us up (1 Peter 5:6). And that’s a whole lot better than struggling alone, to no avail.

Weakness Gives Us Something to Say.

As a writer and an avid consumer of books, I know any good story contains obstacles to overcome. A story of a person who buys a ticket and wins the lottery is not very interesting. However, the story of a child born into poverty who is the first in his family to go to college, and who works his way up from flipping burgers to founding his own business—now that’s interesting!

Likewise, when we beat the odds in spite of (and not because of) ourselves, the world wants to hear our story. And it’s these kinds of stories that fill the Bible.

Recall that Moses was slow of speech and a murderer, but God used him to lead his people out of Egypt. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and then was falsely accused and put in jail, but he later saved a foreign land and his own family from starvation.

Esther belonged to a people considered to be inferior, a race set for extermination, but she was put in a position to help save her people—and she did. Ruth lost her husband and was childless, but she chose to follow her mother-in-law to a foreign land, where she eventually was redeemed and became part of the genealogy leading to Jesus.

Weakness as strength seems paradoxical. Yet God is clearly in the spotlight when the world sees unexpected results from the weak.

So how do we build platforms of powerlessness?

Drop the Facade.

It is human nature to try to cover up or disguise ourselves. We’ve been doing it as a race since the first fig leaf undergarments were crafted. Now I am not proposing we go around naked, but I would challenge you to ask yourself, What am I hiding from the world, and why? When we allow ourselves to be transparent and vulnerable before others, we allow our whole person to be loved, even the parts we consider shameful.

Accept Your Own Limitations.

By accepting our limitations, we free ourselves to accept the limitations of others. Insecurity goes out the window, as does a need to judge others; both of these are usually rooted in our pride and our need to feel superior. We must dig deep and find that part of ourself we can’t accept, and then consider that we have a God who takes us “just as we are” and transforms us by his unreserved love and mighty power. By being our God-created, limited self, we give permission to others to be who God created them to be. Then we can both give up on trying to be the superhero we think the world expects us to be, and begin to live free.

Tap Into God’s Limitless Power.

When faced with our own limitations, we often realize how much we need God’s power working through us. When he is our source of strength, we become power tools in his mighty hands and can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

What have you always wanted to do that seems beyond you? Has God called you to something you thought impossible? Are you willing to be weak so his strength will be seen?

Danielle Hance is a communications professional, writer, and editor living in Germany. Read her ministry blog at dmarieingermany.weebly.com.

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