It’s the interview question that leaves candidates in a cold sweat. Most people looking for a job know that this question’s going to be asked, and yet, they’re never prepared for it. “What’s your greatest weakness?” This question is usually met with silence at first. Hiring managers probably have contests over who can induce the most sweat with this question. They ask the question and then start the timer to see how long it takes you to answer this question. There are many wrong ways to answer this question, and most people use them: “I’m a workaholic and I get lost in my job.” Perhaps job-seekers ought to have a contest on how many times they can make the interviewers’ eyes roll. That answer is so cliché and obviously meant to sound humbly perfect for the job that it’s an immediate job killer.
The question is meant to make you think, to examine yourself. We don’t like to admit to weaknesses because that makes us seem…well…weak. On the job, though, recognizing your own weaknesses means that you’re recognizing a chance to learn and grow so that you can become a better employee and a better person. As Paul deals with the Corinthians, who seem to have a grasp on Paul’s weaknesses, especially compared to other preachers, he notes that his health is an issue. He has what he calls a thorn in the flesh. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
Some of the rabble rousers in Corinth must have been attacking Paul with a vengeance. They chided him for his weaknesses and compared them to the strength of other preachers. Paul turned that narrative on them, though. “Do you call me weak? How right you are, and I’ll boast about my weaknesses because that’s where God steps in to work.” Paul mentioned a semi-specific issue that he called his “thorn in the flesh.” I believe it was a physical condition; it may have been a thought or an attitude. What is really was is not as important as Paul’s reaction to it. Paul prayed to have it removed. He asked God to take it away from him. When something is wrong in your life, it’s best to turn to God to deal with it. It didn’t happen. He prayed three times and God told him to stop praying about it because God would glorify Himself through that weakness. God uses our weaknesses to teach us lessons and Paul learned a great lesson here: God works in our weaknesses. God reveals Himself in our weaknesses and He is glorified when people see Christ working through our weaknesses.
If you talk to some in the “Wellness” community of Christians, those who believe that sickness is a result of sin, they might scoff at Paul today. “Three times? Paul, you need to learn to pray through the problem. God wants you healed. He doesn’t want weakness in His followers!” The truth is that God works through our weaknesses. He takes those who aren’t public speakers, like Moses, and speaks truth through them. He takes those who aren’t very good at relationships and creates followers who show God’s love in relationships with others. He takes those who are shy and makes them bold warriors for Him. How often do we think about serving God and do an inventory of where we’re strong, thinking that God will use our strengths? If we’re trying to figure out how God will use us, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves the question “What is my greatest weakness?” If we did that, and committed to serve in the area of our greatest weakness, we might discover that God can work through us in mighty ways.
Oh Lord, I am weak, but You are strong. Work through my weaknesses and show Your glory to others through me.