No one wants to be weak, so we find ways to appear strong. Some of us use the force of our emotions to manipulate people. Others use the force of personality to control people, and some use intellect to intimidate. Although these create an illusion of strength, they are signs of weakness.

When we are truly strong, we have the courage to admit our limitations and to acknowledge our dependence on God. As a result, true strength often looks a lot like weakness. When the apostle Paul prayed that an affliction would be taken from him, God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul responded with these troubling words: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (v.10).

Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, some of His disciples were striving for positions of prominence. Jesus used their argument as an opportunity to teach them that in His kingdom things are different: greatness comes when we willingly assume positions of weakness (Matt. 20:26).

This is a hard truth. I prefer the illusion of strength to the reality of weakness. But God wants us to realize that true strength comes when we stop trying to control people and start serving them instead.