In this time of political bombast, few will admit any weakness. Most want to burnish their electability by trumpeting unparalleled accomplishment. Candidates quickly pounce on the perceived vulnerability of a competitor, arguing that such disqualifies him or her from service.
|Agony in the Garden – Andrea Mantegna c. 1460 Creative Commons Image|
In stark contrast to this contemporary jousting is the portrait of Jesus and his followers in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The writer narrates a figuration of the Son of God as the one who learns through suffering by “tasting death for everyone.” Thus, God’s own redeemer lives in solidarity with the reality of human life.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-19).
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Humans are finite, imperfect beings, both fearfully and wonderfully made. We are better when we recognize this and seek the support Christ offers.
Central offers a Doctor of Ministry seminar entitled “Vulnerable Leadership,” which is taught by Amy Butler, Senior Minister of The Riverside Church in the City of New York. She has introduced the class to the fine work of Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Suppose to Be and Embrace Who You Are.
|TED2012: Full Spectrum. February 27 – March 2, 2012. Long Beach, CA. Photo: James Duncan Davidson|
Brown’s lectures and writings contend that it is a courageous and connecting opportunity for persons when they reveal their vulnerabilities. Rather than such an admission being a source of weakness,
Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity . . . If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path (Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead).
She is articulating a deep truth that she has gleaned from clinical research and spiritual wisdom.
There is a reason why many churches have a time of confession every Sunday or, in the case of the Benedictines, each evening at Compline. It is a clear reminder of our propensity to sin as weak and vulnerable human beings. God does not love us less because of this frailty; rather, the real condition of our lives draws forth God’s tender compassion. Our striving for perfection can become a form of denial, an attempt to disguise our true condition.
I am finding that when I admit weakness, others are more able to articulate their own. There is healing in this, and God showers mercy in abundance.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares leaders to craft the future with God.