I am terrible at saying no. It’s a huge weakness.
I don’t want to miss out on opportunities, which is why too often I’m distracted by my iPhone. I don’t want to disappoint people which is why my plate is normally (too) full. And in the past, I’ve struggled to create boundaries and lived in the margins between my “yes” and my limits.
Luckily, I married someone who loves saying no! My default is yes and my wife’s default is no. Each of our weaknesses are a place where the other has a real strength. After 7 years of marriage, I know she has helped me get better at saying no, along with realizing my limits. I’d like to think I’ve helped her get better at saying yes to important opportunities.
Struggling with Our Weakness
But neither one of us has flipped our weakness into a strength and I’m not sure we ever will. I think each of us are wired uniquely. As humans, I believe we often deal with the same struggles for our entire lives.
Weakness regularly wins. Too many of us are dominated by our weaknesses because we are unaware of them. Self-awareness is not common enough today. We regularly fail to connect the dots between our frustrating experiences and our weaknesses.
So, how do we figure out what our weaknesses are? And once we discover them, what do we do with them?
4 Steps for Discovering New Strength
I recommend taking four steps – all of which you could do today or even this week! And if you keep reading to the end, I have bonus exercise for you – I think it could be a life-changing process!
1. Admit and own our weakness.
A huge part of serving others is learning what we really have to offer. Effectiveness is tied to self-awareness. And self-awareness is in short supply today. While it is a rare quality, self-awareness can be developed. Author and social-media maven Gary Vaynerchuck talks about self-awareness in this video. I love the process he encourages his audience to go through to gain self-awareness. (Warning: He uses profanity regularly, so if that’s a deal breaker for you, I would just keep reading. If it’s not, I think he has an interesting perspective.)
2. Engage in honest and vulnerable conversations.
Writers Jon Acuff and Anne Marie Miller call this “the gift of going second.” The gift of going second involves jumping into the deep end of vulnerability first, showing someone else they’ll survive and enabling them to go second. Confession makes the space for community. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul admitted a struggle and the insight it has given him about God. Within his second letter to the Corinthian church, he shared how his struggle never went away. I have to wonder if the first time this letter was read, an incredible conversation erupted.
Not every space is safe for vulnerability, though. You shouldn’t share something when you haven’t processed it. When our healing becomes dependent on other people’s responses – people we don’t know, we should hold back. Where it’s safe, honest conversations can lead to profound healing.
[Tweet “Confession makes space for community. @scottsavagelive”]
3. Recognize our greatest offer may not come from our strengths but our weaknesses.
Gary Vaynerchuck would likely disagree with this, but I think we have to hold the idea of focusing on our strengths in tension with the biblical narrative about weakness.
In Exodus, God calls Moses to speak before Pharaoh even though Moses felt insecure and “slow of speech.”
In 2 Corinthians, Paul articulates his sense that it is his weakness where he experiences God’s perfect power.
We all deal with weakness. Many of us say things like, “I’m not enough – for these kids, for these expectations, for this project, for this situation.” We aren’t supposed to be enough. We’re not supposed to have what they need. We’re a conduit, a gateway. I believe we discover a new sense of dependence on God when we act out of our weaknesses, instead of your strengths.
4. Reframe your past as preparation.
Everything we’ve been through before today was preparation. We’ve been gaining the raw materials we needed for this moment. Yet, many of us gloss over the gold mine of learning found in our frustrating past experiences. If we reframe it, anything can be preparation. I love what Pete Wilson says about our past. “You have to find a way to celebrate God’s faithfulness in your past or you’re never going to trust Him with your future.”
Learning from Our Past: An Exercise
Consider this. Was your current reality even on your radar 5, 10 or even 20 years ago? Is it possible you were unknowingly being prepared for this moment?
Several times over the last ten years, I’ve gone through a powerful exercise which has produced incredible clarity for me about my own life. I’ve seen how God has used heartache, people, failure and education to prepare me for a future I couldn’t have expected.
You can download the steps for this exercise by clicking on the link below.
Instructions for Post-It Note Timeline
I’d love to hear what you learned from your timeline. Feel free to comment below, reply to this post if you’re receiving via email or reach out via social media!