This post is Part 3 in a 12-part blog series on humility and growth. (If you missed the first post, you can find it here.)
Our Culture Focuses on Finding Our Strengths
In our culture today, we are encouraged to focus on our strengths. You can even go online, pay 10 bucks, and take a Strength Finder test. The idea is that we each have a unique set of strengths or gifts. Instead of trying to improve the areas where we are subpar, a better strategy is to focus on our strengths, and make them even better. Maybe we can hire people or use our strengths to “make up” for our areas of weakness.
I’m all for hiring a plumber and taking my car to the mechanic. I still remember one time I tried to replace the starter on my Jeep Wrangler all by myself. I ended up doing it, but it took all day and involved a lot of struggle and frustration. And to be fully honest, I ended up having to call my friend to to come over and point out exactly which bolts I had to unscrew to get the thing off.
If We Want to Grow, We Can’t Ignore Our Weakness
However, if our goal is to grow or change something in our lives, focusing only on our strengths is a mistake. If we ignore or compensate for our weaknesses, it is impossible to achieve any meaningful growth and change in that area of your life.
Also, many of the things we struggle with the most are impossible to compensate for. For example, let’s say you are struggling in your relationship with your spouse or kids. You might try to compensate for your relationship issues by taking the family on an expensive vacation in the summer, but this strategy doesn’t work. There is no substitution for the hard work of facing your weaknesses with humility and working on your relationship.
The same thing is true about our most common and pressing problems, such as our physical health, emotional well-being, work and career, and spiritual life. There’s no plumber or mechanic to call for these issues. Life just doesn’t work that way.
Humility and Weakness
Humility says something different. Instead of focusing on our strengths and ignoring or compensating for our weaknesses, humility says to focus on our weakness. We don’t need to feel shame about our weakness, but we recognize that we have to focus on our weakness in order to improve. Humility involves having an accurate view of ourselves, including our weaknesses and limitations.
Your quest for growth and change will go nowhere unless you begin with an accurate assessment of where you are at right now. It’s impossible to get a good plan together for where you need to go, until you have a clear picture of where you are. It’s like looking at a map, trying to figure out how to get to your destination without knowing where you are.
Any kind of meaningful growth and change begins with an honest, humble look at your weaknesses and limitations. It’s uncomfortable and it doesn’t feel good. But it’s where you need to start.