Human weakness has a marvelous way of revealing God’s strength.
When we finally stop focusing on what we can accomplish, it is then that God’s grace becomes most visible. When we finally acknowledge that we cannot do it by ourselves, God shows his presence in new and surprising ways.
This is also true for a pastor, that when he finally admits his limitations and acknowledges that he is far from perfect, Christ will make him a strong and effective servant. As Christ said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9,
My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
This truth is essential to embrace, because there will be many moments when a pastor realizes how inadequate he is, just how little he knows, and that he really has no idea what to do or say next.
Looking back on the years of ministry, a pastor will also see that a multitude of mistakes were made. Criticism simply puts these things into focus more clearly.
Sermons were flubbed. People were rightly offended. There were bloopers, slipups, and there was many a faux pas. Worst of all, a pastor knows how far he was personally from meeting the holy standard of God’s Word, the same Scriptures that he was privileged to preach every Sunday.
But if a weak pastor humbles himself and remembers that effective ministry is not dependent on his interpersonal abilities, his wise and persuasive words, or on his own holiness, then the strong Christ will lift him up with all-sufficient grace.
When a pastor admits that his work is about glorifying Christ and not defending or promoting himself, he will be able to carry on in good courage and new purpose.
Every weak servant of Christ can cling to the ancient words of Zechariah 4:6,
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.
These are God’s words to Zerubbabel the priest as he led the people through the trying time of rebuilding a ruined temple. Military strength or human ingenuity would not be the keys to accomplishing their daunting project, but the Israelites had to depend entirely on the Spirit of the almighty God.
These words are still a much-needed message about whose strength is absolutely essential for being a preacher and pastor. When they are filled with a proud spirit of self-reliance and overconfidence, pastors need this humbling reminder.
Likewise, when they have been deflated again by criticism and a keen sense of their own weakness, pastors can derive much strength from this sure promise of God: “You will do it by My Spirit.”
This is where true power is for every imperfect pastor—and for every imperfect Christian—so it has always been, and will always be.
[Excerpted from Weak Pastor, Strong Christ]