A couple months ago, I gave the devotional at our Colorado Baptists’ State Executive Board meeting. I’m not sure how other Baptist state conventions work, but sitting in a room surrounded by godly men and women who love Jesus, love His Word, love Colorado, and love the mission that God has placed on us to saturate the Centennial state with the gospel of Jesus. I was the least of the least sitting around the table.
What had churned in my heart was how God often calls us to lead through weakness so we will see that Jesus is enough! Second Corinthians 11:28-12:10 has become a close friend to me in moving through the various chapters of life: death (today was my father-in-law’s birthday, who passed away in 2009; along with one of my best friends who committed suicide back in 2014), illness (my wife was diagnosed with lupus in 2009 as well), plus the daily anxieties that come with pastoring a church.
Why do we as pastors specifically and leaders in general find such difficulty in owning our weaknesses? Let’s take this question a step further: why did Paul seem to rejoice so much in his weaknesses?
1. He owned the notion that ministry is hard. Paul spoke in 11:28 how the churches filled him with anxiety daily. Yes, the Philippian church brought him joy, but the thread of disunity was sewn all through the book, so he warned them to be of one mind and heart. But there’s the Corinthian church who brought their pagan practices in the body, the Galatian church who so quickly deserted the gospel, and so on. Ministry is hard–make no mistake about it.
2. Christ leads us best through the hardness of situations and the weakness of leaders. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:30, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weaknesses.” In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the grace of Jesus is enough because His power is made perfect in weakness.” It is perfectly natural in or own nature to lead from power and strength. It is a supernatural work to lead in weakness so we do not receive the glory, but Jesus does.I struggle with this at times. I pastor a church that is what many call ‘established.’ It’s fifty six years old. Our churches do not get much press. The new and the big get the press. They receive this because they are throwing long pass completions, while most churches are three yards and a cloud of dust. But when I realized that Jesus is enough, regardless of whatever comes our way, I’m good. Regardless of what other staff, other churches, other anybody or anything says or does, Christ is enough even in weakness–especially in weakness.
3. Find contentment in His call. How many times do we hear of pastors and staff who are serving in churches but who question their call? What begins to sustain them is people liking them, or successes (“wins”). But when people struggle liking them or the successes don’t come, they have nothing on which to fall back. We all walk around with containers. Do we want others to fill ours, or do we wish Christ to make ours the way He wishes, and we be filled in Him by Him?
Christ leads us best through weakness. And it’s through this that we may lead with joy.
Matt Perry serves as the Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, Colorado. He earned his M.Div and D.Min from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.