Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)
Paul, a man used greatly of God and also a man given many advantages and special privileges (like personally seeing heaven and the glory that awaits all who believe), also had a great struggle. He confesses that these wonderful things that he experienced could become a root of pride within his life. Therefore, the Lord ‘gifted’ him with a ‘thorn’ that he might not become conceited.
This difficulty-weakness-handicap was something physical that limited Paul and made him depend upon the Lord for ability to accomplish his mission. While not clear what this was (perhaps poor eyesight or partial blindness – see Galatians 4:15 and 6:11), it was burdensome enough for Paul to ask the Lord to heal him and remove the handicap from him. Three times he asked the Lord for help and three times he was told ‘no.’
Finally Paul came to understand that this thorn was not something to be removed, but rather something to be gloried in. It demonstrated his weakness and therefore, his total dependence upon the Lord for help. Therefore, he says, I learned that in my weakness God’s power is manifested more clearly.
What is it that comes to your mind as an impediment to your leadership? What physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual weakness do you wish were changed or removed in order for you to better serve His purposes?
Perhaps, like Paul’s thorn, what you see as weakness is a gift from the Lord to help you demonstrate His power in and through you.
Are you wishing it were removed from you? Are you just tolerating it – gritting your teeth and grinding on? Or are you boasting in your weakness, knowing that He is glorified through it and His power now more evident in you?