Recently, I have started playing ping pong again. Growing up, My Dad, my brother and I used to play ping pong all of the time! We would have tournaments at night before we went to bed. All three of us are pretty competitive people and none of us like to lose. Over time, we would constantly try to get better and exploit each others weaknesses. My weakness was and is my backhand shot.
I would spend hours trying to work on my backhand. I would spend so much time working on overcoming my weakness. Overtime, my backhand got a little better but has never become great.
I remember one day my Dad said to me, “Stop working so hard on your weakness and start focusing on your strengths.” Huh, it never even occurred to me to do that. My strength is my serve and forehand spike. I started to work on my serve and my forehand. What I found was this: if I could serve it really well people would be forced to hit the ball to my forehand. My serve would tee up my forehand spike! As I worked on my strengths I began to become a better ping pong player.
Why is it so easy to focus on our weaknesses and ignore our strengths? It could be because people tend to always point out our weaknesses and ignore our strengths. They tend to see that one bad grade on your report card, or that one day you got to work late, or the one time you lost your temper, or that one accident or speeding ticket on your record.
What if we decided that instead of spending all of our time trying to improve our weaknesses, we asked God to help us in the areas we were weak and we poured our effort into our strengths.
The apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 12:9, But God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Did he really say that he would boast gladly about his weaknesses? That sounds like a crazy idea! What if it were true? What if we could give our weaknesses to God and rely on His power? What if we focused our effort on our strengths?
Everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses.
My good friend Les Morrison recently said, “if you look for the bad in people you will find it every time.”
What if we started focusing on our strengths and the strengths of others around us?
Let me tell you what would happen. Our self-confidence would grow! Our self-esteem would grow! Our self-image would be positive! You would be able to say “so long insecurity” and “Hey there self confidence”!
Here is the challenge:
Make a list of five of your strengths right now. List one way you can work on each one of those strengths going forward.
Remember, your life is NOT small. You have so much to offer when you focus on your strengths!
Many times in our lives there seems to be a gaping disconnect between what we desire and what actually seems possible. That disconnect can ring true in a variety of different areas of our lives. From your most lofty of dreams to something embarrassingly simple and “first world.”
Maybe you have a goal to change your personal habits and get in shape, but are constantly defeated because getting there seems like an overwhelming task. Maybe there’s something you truly feel called to do and passionate about, but have no clue where to begin. Or maybe you want your house to look just like those Model Homes I’m always telling you to go walk through :) but every time you strut confidently into TJ Maxx, you leave 45 minutes later overwhelmed and with an empty cart. (Cue Debbie Downer music.)
Wherever that disconnect is for you today let’s hit it in the face with a little hope, shall we? Matthew 14 records the incredible account of Jesus feeding the 5,000, but what I want to take a gander at with you today is Jesus’ interaction with the disciples before the miracle took place. In verse 15 the disciples “alert Jesus” :) to the problem and come at it with their own solution: ‘We’ve got a big crowd of hungry people, and no place close by to get them food. So here’s what you should do…all knowing Son of God, dismiss the people and let them get dinner.”
I’m sure Jesus had to smile at this point. And it seems a little funny to us only because we can immediately read on to the rest of the chapter when Jesus does the miraculous and feeds 5,000 people with your basic appetizer from Red Lobster (…come on, you know you can scarf down more than your share of cheesy garlic biscuits. ;) )
BUT, how many times do we narrow-mindedly do the same thing? I’m guilty of it to be sure! “Here’s my issue Lord, and here is the only way it can be solved.” Yikes.
I just love how Jesus responds and that’s where we’re going to land today.
In a nutshell, He lovingly says, “You’re solution isn’t necessary. You’re going to feed them by bringing Me what’s in your hand.”
That’s powerful stuff isn’t it? You currently might not have everything you think you need, but that also might be exactly where God wants you. What’s in your hand? He isn’t worried or intimidated by your current situation and neither should you be. And trust me, I’m speaking to myself today too! We have every reason to be confident if we’ll bring Him what’s in our hand. He has the most beautifully surprising way of making nothing into something. And because He made you, you’re wired the same way. I hope that encourages your heart today, don’t ever let an intimidating situation cause you to feel small. You were made for more than that.
Ok, now lets take that deep, situation-altering truth and get UBER practical for a moment….What’s in your hand, or should I say your home?
Maybe you don’t have the budget to do major reno’s or even a budget to do ANYTHING.
That’s Ok. You can still institute change and refresh your space. What’s in your hand?
What if all you needed to feel a little better about your home was to spray paint a Root Beer bottle and stick a flower from your landscaping in there? C’mon, you knew I would sneak my undying love for spray paint in here somewhere ;)
OR maybe you need a little something for your coffee table, or in my case an AMAZING OTTOMAN OUR YOUTH LEADERS GIFTED ME WITH at our last service as youth pastors. Read more about that here & here. Seriously the best gift ever!!! I cried. Here’s proof:
Here’s how I’m adorning that perfect little gem: Take a gold tray that you picked up at a garage sale. Spray paint the heck out of it. Place on it a piece of scrapbook paper that you’ve had chillin’ in your desk for a year…even though you don’t scrap book.
Grab a vase from the other side of the room. AND add a small globe vase filled with clearanced out flowers from the grocery store. Take that Mr. Budget.
Speaking of Budget, say you’ve been eying a certain Jonathan Adler frame. Then, it happens to go on sale. Then, you have a coupon. Then, you may let out a small but unexpected squeal. Once your treasure is home you stare at it until it speaks to you and start digging around in drawers. You add another piece of random scrapbook paper, adhere a chalkboard sticker from the $1 spot at Target, and tape on, yep I taped them, some magnetic poetry you’ve been feeling “meh” about. That my friends is free “typography.” ;)
You know what else I’ve been really into lately? Branches. Know why? They’re free. Also, there’s pretty much a never ending supply. And depending on what kind of trees are growing in your backyard, they can add just as much warmth, personality and beauty as flowers. Exhibit A-Tree Branch in old jug:
See kids, you got this! So, what’s in your hand? I for one, can’t wait to see! :)
Until next time-