The Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12).
We don’t know exactly what the thorn was, and I am certain it was more perilous than my own. But, like the Apostle Paul, I have found my thorn to be a reminder of the sufficiency of God’s grace and a source of his strength being made perfect in my weakness.
For years, I have utilized the PDP (Professional DynaMetric Programs) professional development report. It includes an assessment of the amount and type of energy a person has.
I have a lower energy level than most leaders. Years ago, I remember John Maxwell said he’d not hire someone below a certain energy level. That removed the possibility of ever working with one of my heroes because I definitely fell below his threshold. The PDP also revealed that almost all of my energy is “thrust” of conceiving new endeavors and launching new initiatives.
I’ve always had more endeavors in mind than I’ve had energy. This frustrated me as I believed I could accomplish so much more if I had more energy.
But God’s grace is sufficient and his strength more than adequate, helping me learn these lessons in the stewardship of my energy:
- This thorn developed my ability to focus, strategize and prioritize. Similar to a financial budget with less discretionary income, more discipline has been required, given I have less margin in energy.
- I’ve been blessed to serve on teams with higher energy members who have complementary gifts. I don’t have the energy to be a do-it-yourselfer, so it is a necessity to be an equipper.
- I don’t have the energy to be a celebrity. Fulfilling my core responsibilities takes most of my energy. That’s fostered a humility and realization of “the more celebrity-centered a church is, the harder for it to be Christ-centered.”
- A study of energma (Greek for “energy”) has prompted me to depend on God’s energy instead of mine. My energy limitation is not the lid but an opportunity to access his resurrection power.
- I have developed stewardship in other areas: talent, treasure, time. For instance, I do my scheduling more related to energy than time. Particularly intriguing to me (and the subject of my book Power Plays) is the stewardship of power.
- It has tempered my high sense of urgency (OK, impatience). It reminds me there is often a difference between urgent and important.
How about you? What is your thorn in the flesh? How has it shaped you? How have you experienced more of his grace and strength? If you’ve never asked for his grace and strength in regard to your thorn in the flesh, do so today. God is waiting with open arms to give you all that you need in him.