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Ministry Should Make You Weak


“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” they say. But I may have to respectfully disagree. Actually, what doesn’t kill you simply lets you survive. It really has nothing to do with strength. Anyone who has fought for their life at one time or another will tell you. Whether a real battle of military proportions, a battle of physical illness, a spiritual battle, an emotional or mental battle….I guarantee that those people don’t feel strong.

I’ve had a brush with death myself. Maybe calling it a “brush” is too gentle of a word. When your body shuts down and you begin to lose consciousness, and the nurse tells you that if you had waited one more hour to get to the hospital you would have died- you know.  I knew before she told me that. In the hours of extreme suffering beforehand, I wondered if it was the end. Said the goodbyes in my heart. Apologized to my unborn baby for not being able to carry him well. Wept over the pain and helpless desperation in my husband’s eyes. Hoped for it to be the end. “Please,” I begged in my heart while too weak to speak, “Let this be the end.” Heaven sounded wonderful.

God chose to spare my life and my baby’s life- something multiple doctors agreed would never happen. My body was severely allergic to the pregnancy hormone. It was my life or the baby’s life. But God.

So my disease didn’t kill me after all {it does kill some every year}. Did it make me stronger? I’m not so sure.  Almost nine years later, I live with residual affects, and doctors say I always will. My heart was weakened, my adrenal glands were completely exhausted. Recovery from this type of of near death experience can take years, and for some it never really happens. Though I am considered healthy, my health will never be the same. I live with a physical weakness. I am not strong. No one would know this better than I.

Surely this article is not about my health issues, is it? No. It’s about our perspective on strength and weakness.

Soldiers come home from battle weaker than ever before, and in some ways, destroyed. Their lives will never be the same.

People are released from hospitals and sent home to recover. It takes a long time. Some physical effects typically remain for years or a lifetime.

People {even ministry wives} battle depression or other mental illnesses. They feel fragile much of the time.

Ministry couples leave one ministry for another, for a sabbatical, or for good.  Or, they stay in a ministry for many years. Either way, they often become battle weary and worn down in every possible way.

We live in a culture that drives us to be strong, to be capable, to be self sufficient. I can do this! You can too! No room for weakness. If you’re weak you won’t amount to anything!

But what if it’s actually the opposite? What if, in God’s upside down ways, the weak are the ones who prosper?

Some of you dear pastors’ wives, ministry wives, missionary wives- you feel like you’ve been on a battlefield in ministry. And indeed, you have. You may still be there. You feel anything but strong. You wonder if you ever will. And no one knows how weak you are better than you do.

Something I have observed since beginning our sabbatical: We are only strong because we survived. In reality, all that we have faced in life and ministry has made us weaker.

We are only in our 30s, but we have had a shockingly wild ride during the past 10 years. A few people have heard our entire life story thus far. When we finished pouring out our waterfall of experiences to them, some said “Wow. You’ve been through a lot to be so young. God has something special for you.” But others said, “Wow. You’ve been through a lot to be so young. You must be so strong now.”

And I think to myself….’so strong now?’ If you only knew. We are weaker than ever before. Can I say that again- I don’t want you to misunderstand-

We are weaker than ever before.

We are more broken, more needy, more dependent, more grasping for God than ever before. We know more than ever that we can’t do anything without God’s enabling. Nothing. Not have a Godly marriage, not raise Godly children, not be a Godly pastor’s wife, not minister through music, not teach or counsel, not comfort the grieving or do a funeral, not run a church event, not handle criticism and expectations, not fight the intense spiritual battle that ministry is.

Not exist. This is what brokenness does. It shows how weak we are, yet how strong He is. And friends, this just cannot be a cliche anymore with those of us who are serious about following God!

In many, many places in Scripture we are told to be strong in the LORD, to let Him go before us and fight for us. We are told that we have no strength of our own. But do we really know what it is to live like this? Have you ever let yourself be that weak….or even admit that you are that weak?

What if, instead of us getting stronger the more trials we face, we actually saw ourselves getting weaker? And we knew, we knew, that this is the way it’s supposed to be?

It is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather, this kind of weakness becomes your greatest joy.

The weaker you become, the more you know it’s His strength, and not yours. This is real, friends. This is the God of heaven, taking over with bold strength when we allow ourselves to be weak. Is there anything else more humbling in ministry? And ironically, is there anything else that infuses us with joyful confidence to serve and give back to our strong Enabler?

Do you feel like trials in life and ministry are making you weaker instead of stronger….like they are stripping away your threshold of stamina and are wearing you down? Like you are losing control on life instead of learning how to gain it? Like people and problems and long days and short nights and phone calls and demands are whittling away all efforts to be strong? Like the older you get, you have life less figured out than ever before?

Take heart. You’re in good company. And there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s actually something very right with you.

You’re becoming weaker. And that’s more than okay.

You’re right where God wants you.

Because He has an ocean of strength- not only to give to you so that you’ll be strong to do His will {Psalm 29:11 “The LORD will give strength unto his people”}- but to BE for you in weakness, to BE strength in your place.{Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and shield”}

This place of utter weakness where you find yourself? It’s a wonderful place to be. Dwell there today. And ever after.


A Kindred Spirit


7 thoughts on “Ministry Should Make You Weak

  1. Oh yes please and thank you! This truth about being weak reminds me of the image I have of a shepherd picking up and carrying the weakest lambs. The weaker we become (of our own attempts at being strong) the nearer we are to The One who loves us best.

  2. Yes, absolutely….I was sobbing halfway through because I KNEW what was coming…, ‘His strength is made perfect in my weakness’ is what I heard resonating in my spirit….yes, I know it is true. So comforting and infusing to read… thank you for articulating this so well, Leah.

    1. I re-read this again tonight and once again was moved to tears….how amazing it is to actually embrace this truth…it just washes over me and cleanses me over and over again.
      Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful gift of encouragement that He has given you, Leah.

  3. You really touched hearts with this devotion, Leah. We are truly amazed and proud at what God has accomplished in you and Jonathan. Love, Mom Moore

  4. Wow, what a story. I’m sorry for your health trials Leah. So many of the great hymn writers experienced the weakness that you write of. Both my husband and I have chronic health problems. Over the years, I can see God’s hand in this . . causing us to be more dependent on Him and less on ourselves. Also, using us in a way we wouldn’t have been able to do if our health was optimal. Elizabeth Prentiss who wrote the hymn “More Love to Thee” had this to say about her suffering: “Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price and I wish to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls.”

    Thank you for sharing and for your ministry. You are loved and appreciated.

  5. Thanks for sharing, I really needed this today!! I’ve been battling various health issues the last 10 years and I completely agree that it has made me weaker, in the sense I’ve had to rely totally on Him for everything!

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