“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:10)
I’ve heard it said that life has three stages which most of us experience at various times: dependence, independence, and interdependence. Infancy is the most obvious example when we are totally dependent on our parents. Then at about age two children start to declare their independence which continues until around age twenty-two. (To the parents of my grandchildren, be forewarned.) And hopefully by the time we reach some level of maturity in adulthood we begin to realize that the way life functions most effectively is through interdependence, and the better we can master that the better off we will be.
It was this kind of interdependency the Apostle Paul was referring to when he claimed that “when I am weak, then I am strong,” for it was through his shortcomings and weaknesses that he recognized his need for help – from God – and by so doing actually transformed into strength. And how true it is for all of us that when we give up trying to be so self-reliant and hand it over to someone who is better or stronger, we in turn become infinitely stronger and more effective.
I can remember when for a time during my former career I began to think of myself as really good at what I did – I mean really, really good, if you know what I mean. Then I began to notice that many of the people around me were becoming even better than I was, which sort of deflated my self-image from “really good” to just “pretty good”. At first because of my competitive nature and ego I reacted by working even harder. No way, I thought, are they going to outdo me. Then I began to realize that if I am only “pretty good” compared to their “really good”, maybe it would be better to step out of the way instead of competing with my own people. A better idea might be to focus on providing strong leadership and an encouraging and supportive environment. The end result was win-win as they got better at their jobs and I attained better results in mine. It was a classic testimony for the value of interdependency. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”