I’d like to dispel the feeling of failure when I see someone struggling in an area they are weak.
We ALL have them. It’s part of living in a fallen world. Part of being human. Non-perfect.
Can we have enough? We love them!! Our strengths make us feel like a hero!
We are all made in the image of God. Take a moment and think about that. Made in the image or likeness of a totally holy, perfect being. I like the sound of that! Who doesn’t have an innate desire to be perfect? To stop this madness of making mistakes?! It’s in us. That’s why we desire it. Can we be perfect? Not in this world….. but there’s hope.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and accepting them, can help. Let me give you an example.
We raised two sons. Each had different strengths. It became very clear at a young age that they were going to have an instinctive competiveness with each other. A natural sibling “mindset”.
But we had concerns because each one had very obvious gifts that the other did not. This could be bad…. It could have led to one feeling like a champ at the expense of the other feeling like a failure.
Take athleticism. Our youngest son was more gifted at baseball (and they both played). Hmmm, after trying a few sports –we found that our oldest was a gifted, natural swimmer.
Our oldest son is highly intelligent (as many firstborns are). Meanwhile, our youngest is quite smart and loves to learn – so he is hardly at a disadvantage. But if we had not addressed his older brother’s gift of intelligence (and called it a “gift”), his younger brother could have grown up feeling like he was dumb and not developed his own intelligence.
Here’s how my husband and I handled those differences. One thing we did, (every 6 months to a year), was make a list of their strengths and weaknesses. When they were too young to read, we would post them on the refrigerator so that we could refer to the list and affirm them in their strengths daily:
“It was so great to see you show compassion to your brother when he fell and hurt himself. That must have made your heart feel really good.”
“God gave you a very generous heart; it’s awesome when you share your toys.”
We continued the lists as they got older and we made the lists with their help/input. This way they were identifying their own strengths and weaknesses. There was no shame in the weaknesses because, if we’re all honest as parents, often we struggle in the same areas they do in one capacity or another. Think about it: The root of all weaknesses is the same – fear, greed, selfishness, pride. And to have a parent beside them, encouraging them and letting them know that we understand their struggles (weaknesses) because we have them too, takes away the shame and mitigates the feeling of failure they may feel.
“Johnny, it must’ve made your heart feel yucky when you raced to get the first serving and pushed your sister out of the way….. I wanted the biggest piece of pizza too… “
“You know how you and I like to please people? Sometimes we do things we shouldn’t do just to keep other people liking us. The other day when Alex wanted you to _____________, how did you feel? Did you really want to do that or where you just trying to keep him liking you?”
The conversations are teaching times. Teaching them that strengths are to be developed and weaknesses are to be watched out for.
If they/we know their weaknesses – then life just works better. We make wise choices. We make better friends, siblings, spouses.
My husband and first son are perfectionists.
My youngest son and I are efficient.
We’ve grown to appreciate that if we want a project done well – guess who does it?! My husband or first son. (but it won’t be quick)
If we want a project done quickly….my youngest son or myself are happy to just “whip it out! And get it done!” (but it may not be done perfectly)
You see? It’s wisdom to work around those strengths and weaknesses
Gary Smalley, a Christian author, says:
Our weaknesses are our strengths out of balance.
Think about it….It’s true. And that makes our weaknesses much more palatable. Not so horrible.
And it’s good to teach them that there is a God that cares intimately about them – so much that He can help them in their weaknesses and struggles without condemnation. What a wonderful opportunity to take a potentially bad situation and point them to the Lord who accepts and loves each one of them unconditionally…and us! And has an incredible purpose for each one – in spite of our weaknesses.