Expose Your Thorn in the Flesh

Being honest about your own shortcomings can be encouraging to those you're leading.

In a facility for the mentally challenged, a resident said to the chaplain, "The reason everyone likes you so well is because you're one of us." The chaplain smiled at the insinuation, but took the remark as a compliment.

While self-confidence and a polished presentation are desirable leadership qualities, sometimes a too-perfect image can be intimidating to those struggling with human imperfection. To build a rapport with followers, pastors or leaders may sometimes need to reveal their struggles as well as their strengths. If the pastor conquers a weakness, congregational members will realize they, too, can rise above failure.

When the Apostle Paul prayed three times that God would remove his thorn in the flesh, God replied, "My power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9, NIV). People could interact better with one who shared their frailty of the flesh.

The following examples from actual leaders may suggest ways you can expose your thorn in the flesh:

Admit wrongdoing. "I was a jerk last week," the pastor said as he confessed being insensitive to his family. His report of the improved atmosphere in the home after he apologized encouraged anyone in a strained relationship to do likewise.

Turn a negative into a positive. Just as he was ready to open his home for mentally challenged adults, the leader had an accident that severed both arms. After he learned to deal with his own limitations, he said, "I can better understand those I serve. They will relate to me because now I'm more like them."

Reveal your struggle with sin. "I sometimes have the urge to wring someone's neck," the pastor said. He did not excuse his proclivity to anger, but rather, emphasized the importance of yielding human flaws to the power of the Holy Spirit. ...

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