If I boast in anything, I boast in this– that I was weak.
Even now you’re protesting. I can see your encouraging heart on hyperdrive, ready to comment below about all the strength I have, all it took for me to lead a team in the Himalayas. Don’t. That would defeat the purpose of this blog post. Please, for this moment, just read. Put down your good Christian morals– if only for a couple minutes– and listen without thinking of how you’ll respond. Yes, you may want to protect me from “discouragement”. I know you all. You love me in wild ways– and I always need encouragement. But if you want to love me right now, and if you want to love me well– do this– shut up and listen.
Growing up as a missionary kid, there’s certain things you avoid like the plague: travelling without good headphones, staying in the same country for too long, and doing anything that smells like a YWAM cliche. These cliches include things such as playing guitar in the backyard, posting photos of orphan children, and doing a Discipleship Training School (DTS). And if you succumb to those, heaven forbid– staffing a DTS! That was my attitude, however undercover I kept it.
The irony of it all, if a missionary kid accomplishes all those cliches (even staffing a DTS), nine times out of ten they find that they actually love it (and are really quite good at it). There’s something normal about leading a team of young people to tell the nations about Jesus– far more commonplace than going to university or getting a job. Things come naturally– whether it’s talking to contacts who have twenty mutual friends with you, or bargaining at the market to get that scarf for half price. It’s not anything you did– you just grew up on a YWAM base and travelled from a young age. You’re the kid in class who “just knows” the answer to the question, and wonders why no one else raised their hand. This made it really easy for me to slip into the “I know what I’m doing” mentality, which can end up sounding just plain bratty. Well, what am I talking about, I was bratty– if only in secret.
When I boasted in anything, I boasted in this– I grew up in YWAM, did my DTS, and staffed a DTS once before.
That was my strength.
Not for long.
Are you still listening? Have you kept your mouth shut? Secretly, you might think those things really would make someone strong, experienced, wise. Maybe you don’t think that. Maybe you understand that everyone has their own journey, even YWAM kids. But least I thought that way. Oh, may I encroach on your time just for a little bit longer– to show you it’s not the case.
I was weak.
In the course of this DTS, from staff training to debrief week, I seriously considered giving up altogether, I complained about leadership styles, I didn’t want to go on outreach, I constantly compared this school with the last (for better and for worse), I wouldn’t shut up and let my co-leader talk, I didn’t hang out with the students when I could have, I even turned my back and walked away from people in the middle of conversations that overwhelmed me. I bawled on my roommate’s shoulder, didn’t rest well when I needed to, and lost vision for what I was doing, countless times.
I know, it’s a discouraging self-diagnosis. But– please don’t rescue me and tell me what I did well, at least not in this exact moment.
I want to tell you what someone else did well.
Because when I was weak– He was strong.
Jesus was there when I wanted to give up, picking the right song and playing it on repeat. He was there in my complaining, reminding me that thankfulness isn’t grown in good circumstances, but hard ones. He listened to my concerns about outreach, knew I really wanted to go underneath it all, and provided some sweet leather hiking boots to add! He showed me that all schools are different– and taught me to embrace the joy in the present season (summed up in two words: oatmeal parties). He taught me be my co-leader’s biggest fan– a.k.a. friend– and guided us every day (remember choosing the hotel?! Best ever). Jesus was my real-life example of “Love is patient, love is kind”, even when I wasn’t. He comforted me in my choked-up tears, gave me supernatural rest, and wrote the best outreach stories– all when I was at the end of myself.
Friends, can’t you see it’s a happy ending? That someone can be so weak, and yet still so victorious? I write this not because I am discouraged about this school and outreach, far from it. It was successful from Heaven’s perspective as well as my own. However, I asked you to listen because I would love if you got what I learned so forcefully during the past six months:
If Jesus knows how weak we are, and still asks us to lead, surely He is okay with our lack of strength.
Maybe, just maybe, He likes it.
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)