Shared vulnerability and offered strength.

What if the life I describe is not the life I offer?

Paul writes, “do not think of yourself more highly that you ought.” It feels like a statement about pride. It feels like a statement that should be followed by, “who do you think you are?” It feels like a statement that should go on a wall plaque with others designed to demolish our ego and strip away capacity to answer the question, “What are you best at?”

But Paul follows the statement with a discussion of the different gifts that God has given people. And suddenly, his statement feels different. It leads to a series of remembrances.

Remember that you don’t have to know everything, don’t have to be able to do everything. Remember that you have the freedom to not solve everyone’s problems. Remember that you have permission to ask for help.

img_1679Remember that everyone around us already knows that we are human. And the people who care about us are waiting for us to enter into the community that they are offering. Because they don’t have the vulnerability we have which allows them to offer their gifts to strengthen us in our shared work. 

And it’s a reminder that in community, we have permission to identify the things that we can do best and offer them to others. Because they have vulnerabilities, too. And if they have to spend their energy making you feel better about yourself so you can contribute, you are wasting opportunities. And you are making more of your humility than you ought to make.

Try this: What’s one thing that you know how to do? Even it it doesn’t seem to be large.

“I can keep my mouth shut long enough for someone else to finish sentences.” “I can notice when my friends are sad.” “I can write notes.”

And today, when you are about to think you can do nothing, do that. Because it’s possible that your sober assessment just allowed you to identify the thing you were made to offer into someone else’s vulnerability.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.