Growing up, were you told to eat carrots because they're good for your eyes? Were you instructed not to swim after eating because you might get cramps and drown? Both admonitions are false, as is the belief that God needs us to excel and butt up against perfection in order for him to achieve anything through us.
"[There are] things we grow to accept as truth that need to be challenged with reality," said Kyle Idleman during his keynote address at WFX titled, "Weak to Be Strong: How Celebrating Our Insufficiencies Creates Space for God's Glory".
His essential point was how God's power works best in our weakness, "When we are weak it leaves space for God's power to be displayed most dramatically," said Idleman, who is the Teaching Pastor at Southeast Christian Church and the author of three books. He also implored attendees to look at perceived problems, such as limited resources and outdated facilities, as realities to rejoice in, not lament over, and urged church leaders in the room to always focus on the "why" and not the "what" when planning for their facilities and equipment.
"We want people to come and be blown away by what they see and feel [in our churches], but we often achieve excellence at the cost of authenticity," he shared.
Authenticity, along with vulnerability and humility, were the characteristics Idleman said we need to develop most as we seek to embrace our weakness, lay down our pride and allow God's strength and power to work.
He issued three challenges to help:
1.) Make a commitment as a church not to do things to keep up appearances:
It's hard not to do things to impress, especially with social media beckoning us to share and show off our "best selves", but that practice takes glory away from God. Idleman implored churches not to hold the value that being picture perfect is the ideal. "[God] intentionally chooses the weak," he said.
2.) Personally practice vulnerability:
Practicing intentional vulnerability can be as simple as being transparent when sharing prayer requestsby being authentic with others about our struggles, failings and insecurities. Idleman reminded the audience that spiritual transformation occurs through vulnerability, not self-sufficiency.
3.) Ask for help:
Make a habit of asking others for help and being transparent about your weaknesses and struggles, both with others and especially with God through prayer. Idleman shared that it took him years to ask God for help in his roles as a husband and fatherso long he was embarrassed by itbut when he finally asked, he realized God's strength was flowing through his weaknesses.
In summary, Idleman encouraged every individual in the room to use the resources at their disposal, including facilities, equipment, talents and more, to communicate and spread the Gospel, but to remember that God works in our weakness and dependence. "Whatever God accomplishes is not because of usit's in spite of us," he concluded.