When we fail….or when we take a hard look at our weaknesses…..it can be to our advantage…if we have the right perspective. John Maxwell calls it failing forward. I so believe our destiny can be found in our history and in our perceived disadvantages and weaknesses. I don’t have to look far for an example of perspective–my father.
If you know him, you probably know he did not go to college. If you hear him attempt to read out loud (which is rare), you realize that reading is a weakness. He has trouble pronouncing his words—something I noted on those rare times I did hear him read out loud. You see, growing up I never saw him teach Sunday School or read in front of anyone. His formal education was lacking–disadvantage. He missed much school to work to support his family.
Today, I look at his disadvantage and know that God used it in his life to work in his favor. He is one of the most successful men I know personally. He was driven to work hard and knew he had to because of lack. He worked long hours and surrounded himself with people who knew what he didn’t.
His lack of education drove him hard. I also know that he grew up poor–8 brothers and sisters. They were farmers and loggers….and he did without many times. He proudly tells me he never went hungry though. He makes sure to add that he didn’t get to pick what he ate. He just lets me know…he never went hungry. Adding that pork and beans were his daily menu and he didn’t know chickens had breasts until he was an adult. So growing up without…also motivated him.
Today, I love reading God’s word and psychology. I believe they go together and I also believe the Bible is the best book on psychology. There is a psychologist named Alfred Alder who proposed the counterintuitive theory. He believed that perceived disadvantages often proved to be disguised advantages because they force us to develop attitudes and abilities that would have otherwise gone undiscovered. And it is only as we compensate for those disadvantages that our greatest gifts are revealed.
It has certainly proved true in my dad’s life and mine. I have dyslexia. I can remember as a child spending summers working with a tutor on my reading. My mom noticed I wasn’t learning as fast as others. When I read aloud, she realized I was reading from right to left off the page. NO wonder what I read didn’t make sense.
When I was in second grade, the teacher assigned us to reading groups. I was placed in Group #4, the last group the ones who were slower. Kids laughed when I read out loud for the first time! Coming home with tears of humiliation alerted her to a real problem! Funny thing…I look back now and after reading and learning much about Alder’s theory, I see that it worked in my life. Studies show that if you have trouble reading or have dyslexia, you develop better verbal skills.
Many public speakers suffer with dyslexia, …that would be me. It was even noted at the Miss South Carolina pageant by the judges who judged me. They loved and were persuaded by my ability to articulate…which was validated again at the Miss America Pageant by a different set of judges. I marvel now– to look back and see that my weakness helped me to develop a strength!
Point of post…God doesn’t waste a thing. He uses our weaknesses. He does. It can bring about a Holy Confidence and propel us towards our destiny!
I love the life of David. He was put out in the pasture while his brothers were drafted for the army. He was overlooked as being fit for battle. David was by himself, out of the “limelight,” and left to do a job that drew no attention or notice. David could have easily allowed the bear and the lion to take a sheep or two but he was faithful on the job. He took his job seriously. He went after a sheep that was endangered even when it meant he had to go up against a ferocious lion or bear. He learned to fight and defend.
When he happened to go check on his brothers in battle and came upon the threat of Goliath, he was perceived as being an unlikely candidate for the job. But what people didn’t know, especially his brothers, was that David’s perceived weakness by the majority had become his strength. He was only a shepherd but had become a “warrior”. He had confidence, a holy confidence. I imagine him googling through the files in his mind of his past experiences as he stooped to select some smooth stones. He brought up how God had propelled and enabled him to defeat the lion and the bear….and even gave credit where credit is always due…to God. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (I Samuel 17:37)
So today….let’s embrace our failures and our weaknesses.…”our lack!” Realize God doesn’t waste anything and uses it to move us to our destiny….our created purpose. His word holds true…”He causes ALL THINGS to work for Good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28–emphasis mine]
If you are at a point of failure…weakness….look at them as DIVINE DELAYS…God’s training ground….for His Good works that he prepared in advance for me/you/us to do. Understand…God is in control but He gives us free will. We can’t always control what happens to us but we can always control how we respond. Our response is key and vital to our SIGNIFICANCE and our created purpose.