I Am Not Strong
People often use that word to describe me.
But honestly, I’m anything but strong.
That’s a vulnerable statement as a leader. Leaders are supposed to be strong, right? Everyone looks to a leader to be strong. And once you’re described as strong, that’s the role you play for everyone in your life. You’re counted on to be strong.
But the pressure of needing to be strong ALL THE TIME is enough to make anyone implode.
That’s because strong is a facade. People who are strong are perceived to be strong for one of two reasons:
1) They rely on God’s strength. It’s not their own, it’s His. They find their peace and rest in Him and discover immense strength in the moments they need it… because they realize it’s God working through them rather than them working in their own might.
And then there’s the other type of strong…
2) Those who rely on their own strength. Those who pretend to be strong and have it all together because they are afraid of appearing weak, lacking control or incompetent. These people make themselves crazy trying to be strong all the time for everyone. They put on a great show but underneath it’s empty… shallow… fragile… anything but strong.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6
Where do you find your strength? In your own power or God’s?
Thanks for the post, Jenni, because I can totally relate. I used to play the part of "strong" very well. I lost my father 5 years ago, and everyone looked to me to be "strong." I was strong on the outside, but it was a facade to be sure. I hid my emotions and put on the front for the sake of my family. What I understand now is that real strength isn't a show for the perceived benefit of others. It's the willingness to be open, honest, and visibly broken. It's the utter reliance on God to redeem and empower us to endure, no matter what the struggle. I still play the part a lot more often than I should, but I'm realizing that the weaker I allow myself to be, the stronger I am in Him.
Thanks for sharing some of your story, Kenny.
Jenni, more often than not I find myself swinging like a pendulum between these two extremes. I think my default is my own strength, energy, and passion. But it always runs out…and I'm left in need. It seems like that's when I remember (or am willing) to beg God for strength and to do it his way. Out of order, I know…but I'm learning.
Nicole, we are too much alike! 🙂
as a homeschooling/full time working single mother….i often have to take on the role of being the "strong one'…because in reality, there is no one else who can take on these burdens for me.
often times i am thankful that God has made my shoulders strong in the natural and the physical to carry the load that i do…. but i also know that my strength to live this life doesn't come from me.
this post reminds me one of my favorite songs by twila paris called "warrior is a child". this is my heart song to Jesus everytime i feel overwhelmed by life's circumstances.
"Lately I've been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears
They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child"
Wow, that song takes me back! But it’s such a true lyric. Praying for you. You are carrying a lot – may God truly be your strength!
As always, I really admire your transparency and love to learn from you. Thanks for this post!
Thanks for chiming in Jonathan. Thanks for letting me be transparent.
I feel this tension ALL the time as a leader. Feeling the pressure to be strong, while feeling incapable of being so on my own power. Thanks Jenni.
Yeah, I think it’s one of the greatest tensions for leaders. Thanks Tyler!
Of course we know we can only be strong IN THE LORD! When we attempt to do things in our own strength then we demonstrate our real weakness. As I wait on the Lord in certain areas of my life, I am tempted at times to move things along faster by “helping” God in my own strength–using the abilities He blessed me with. Thankfully, God’s grace keeps me moving in the right direction and so I wait and trust in Him.
I like to try to help God along too, Jim. Thanks for commenting!