Something inside of me wants to pretend that it is better than it looks. When I struggle with fear, I may choose to appear strong rather than acknowledging my weakness. But I have seen vulnerability up close from leaders I respect. Their honesty about a broken marriage or an addiction to painkillers gives me courage to walk with transparency. Vulnerability releases grace.
Paul gives us freedom to be weak by modeling vulnerability in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians. They had broken his heart, comparing him to more superlative apostles, even though he had laid down his life for them. His letter invites us to join the 6F Club and talk about
our feelings (2 Cor.2:4; 6:11,12) our frustrations (2:12; 5:3,4)
our failures (4:7-9) our fears (7:5)
our fights (7:5) our frailty (1:8; 12:7-10)
Vulnerability means the willingness to be weak.
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom.8:26).
“God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (I Cor.1:27).
“I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling” (I Cor.2:3).
“It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (I Cor.15:43).
“Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Cor.11:29,30).
“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” (2 Cor.12:9,10).
Truths about weakness:
God can turn our greatest weakness into our greatest strength if we don’t run from it.
Weakness brings me God’s grace; it also encourages relationship and fellowship (I John 1:7).
Weakness overcomes the devil, who would rather see me glorying in my strength.
Christ’s time of greatest weakness demonstrated God’s greatest power.
God uses weakness to shame proud people.
Weakness encourages dependence upon God and interdependence with others.
Weakness facilitates healing (Js.5:16) and brings the Spirit’s help.
The tax collector cried out for mercy and received it, while the Pharisee bragged about his good record—and heaven was not impressed. Sometimes being positive just doesn’t do it (Luke 18:9-14). The prodigal son chose vulnerability and confessed his sins to his dad. The elder brother claimed obedience and didn’t know how hard his heart was. To pretend righteousness, as the Pharisees did, blocks our access to it. Righteousness is alien to us and not our possession unless God grants it to us. He offers it graciously to those weak enough to recognize their absolute poverty. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” All that heaven gives becomes theirs.
I became more vulnerable as I learned to deal with my pharisaism. Self-righteousness chokes out vulnerability because self-righteous people are in hiding, as I was. When I started coming out, I discovered that transparency was safer than running. It is one mark of health. “We have Abraham as our father,” is a sign of self-defense, not of weakness. As I tasted the fruit of vulnerability (trust from people, closer relationships, more impact in the pulpit, humor), I didn’t want to return to the old way. With brokenness comes openness.