“He….encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” Acts 11:23
A sizable share of my ministry over the past several years has been to assist churches find pastors. The question that I am often asked regarding prospective candidates is, “What are their strengths and what are their weaknesses?” Strengths have a tendency to be more observable while often weaknesses more imperceptible. Strengths are generally visible while weaknesses are more hidden. Strengths often can be detectable through casual acquaintance, weaknesses, on the other hand, usually only surface when there is a more familiar relationship. It is not uncommon to converse about our strengths while discussing our weaknesses lies outside our comfort zone.
A careful study of Scripture reveals the weaknesses of many of God’s most faithful servants. There is something about serving the Lord, and the enormity of the task, that makes us feel so inadequate. I have certainly felt that way in every ministry that has been placed on my doorstep. And that is the way we should feel for as our Lord declared in John 15:5, “….without Me you can do nothing.” Earlier John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). David, distraught after the death of Abner said, “I am weak today, though anointed king, and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me…” (II Sam. 3:39). You well recall the story of Israel’s battle with the Amalekites in Exodus 17, and how they were victorious when Moses’ hands and rod were raised, but how the Amalekites gained the edge when his hands became heavy and were lowered. So Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill to support his hands, which they did until the going down of the sun and thus Joshua defeated the Amalekites. Interestingly, each of these openly admitted their weaknesses.
Any true servant of the Lord knows that his weaknesses are many. It is impossible to run away from them therefore we must run to the One who can help us. This is one purpose of the throne room made available to us in Hebrews 4:16 where we may obtain mercy for our failures and grace for our fears in the time of need, or more aptly, in the nick of time. The prayer of an unknown puritan preacher has been of great encouragement to me during times of weakness. May it also hearten you.
O Spirit of God, help my infirmities; When I am pressed down with a load of sorrow, perplexed and knowing not what to do, slandered and persecuted, made to feel the weight of the cross, help me, I pray Thee. If Thou seest in me any wrong thing encouraged, any evil desire cherished, any delight that is not Thy delight, any habit that grieves Thee, any nest of sin in my heart, then grant me the kiss of Thy forgiveness, and teach my feet to walk the way of Thy commandments. Deliver me from carking care, and make me a happy, holy person; help me to walk the separated life with firm and brave step, and to wrestle successfully against weakness; teach me to laud, adore, and magnify Thee, with the music of heaven, and make me a perfume of praiseful gratitude to Thee. I do not crouch at Thy feet as a slave before a tyrant, but exult before Thee as a son with a father. Give me power to live as Thy child in all my actions, and to exercise sonship by conquering self. Preserve me from the intoxication that comes of prosperity; sober me when I am glad with a joy that comes not from Thee. Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom, not asking whether the road be rough or smooth. I request only to see the face of Him I love, to be content with bread to eat, with raiment to put on, if I can be brought to Thy house in peace.