When I was a youth pastor one time I decided to try to lead worship in my normal worship leader’s absence. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly David Crowder! I had practiced my guitar and knew the songs, but honestly, it was ugly. I have realized that singing or being musical is not something God has created me to do.
As a leader, our weaknesses can oftentimes be extremely obvious. In fact, the higher up we get in leadership, the more obvious those weaknesses become. Look at all the Presidential candidates right now – they’re being picked apart. That’s part of leadership. The truth is, we all have weaknesses. There’s not a leader on the planet that doesn’t have some blaring weakness. So what sets certain leaders apart? Leveraging weakness to become strength.
Knowing your weaknesses allows you the opportunity to do a few things:
- Develop strength in the area you’re weak. Oftentimes, when an athlete breaks a bone or pulls a muscle, following months of rigorous rehab, they can come back even stronger then they were before their injury. Realizing your weakness gives you a focus for what to work on.
- Delegate and empower others. This allows you to involve others in your pursuit of excellence. By definition, leadership is leading others. What an opportunity! Surround yourself with quality individuals that fill your weakness gaps.
- Look for the positives with your apparent weakness and exploit them. Let me give you a personal example. Being a single youth pastor right out of college, many asked me how I could possibly be effective without a spouse? For me, I took that as a challenge. That apparent weakness actually turned out to be one of my greatest strengths. I had more time than most to pour into my students. My attentions weren’t split. I worked harder and longer than any youth pastor you’ll encounter. I don’t say that to gloat, but to show you that what others might consider a weakness can actually be a strength!
If you’re feeling like you’ve been buried in a pit of weaknesses as a leader, let me give you a suggestion.
Take out a piece of paper and make four columns. In the first, list all the weaknesses you feel you have as a leader. In the second, number those weaknesses you feel you can work on, starting with the most important. In the third column, identify weaknesses you can empower someone with to become a strength and list the individual. And in the final column, look at the remaining weaknesses and process what the positives are in those weaknesses. Then think through how you can exploit those positive aspects. It may be a good idea to involve a respected mentor/friend in this process to give a valuable outside perspective.
With that said, now it’s just a matter of leveraging those weaknesses to become strengths. It’s not easy, but those your leading and the cause you are working for will be forever impacted.
May I suggest a fifth column that perhaps should be the first column? Name your strengths, are you empathic, are you a good orgqanzer, are you able to win others over to your point of view…what are your strengths? Play to your strengths. Successful people play to their strengths, not forgetting their weaknesses but by using their strengths they frequently find that their weaknesses become “less weak”.
Just a thought.
I really like this article because unlike th concept of “Focusing on your Strengths” it illustrates the idea of an athlete building on his weakness to strengthen himself overall.
Have you ever seen the movie “Cinderella Man?” In this movie, the time is set to the depression, and this athlete has to box to earn a living. When he breaks his right hand he can’t box anymore, so he works down at the docks to make a living. Ironically enough, because he has used his left hand so much to let his right hand heal, he strengthened his weak arm and now he’s a powerhouse! And that won’t preach I don’t know what will! (Focusing on our weaknesses isn’t popular at all, but in any sport, trade, ministry, or career, it’s a necessary evil).