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  • Writer's pictureRenata Joseph

Strength in Weakness

Many of us in ministry or social work/development work struggle with what's called a Savior complex. We see the hurt in the world and can sometimes believe it's up to us to save it. Mahatma Gandhi famously said, "BE the change you want to see in the world." I agree with that wholeheartedly. It becomes a problem when we think that we have the answers without fully understanding the context of the culture or person we are trying to help. Even worse is to lose sight of the problems and weaknesses we have in ourselves, while focusing on "fixing" those around us.

Matthew 7:3-5 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

I love this passage because it calls out the sin of hypocrisy in me. It causes me to step back and look at myself; to take inventory of the things that blind me to my own shortcomings. If I am going to "be the change" I need to have an honest understanding of both my strengths and weaknesses.

Coming to Belize, there's equal parts opportunity to put on my Savior cape and parade through the streets and equal parts opportunity to curl up in a ball overwhelmed. There's beauty in that balance. I don't ever want to fly in to save the day, only to discover I'm wearing the Emperor's New Clothes. I need advisors and friends who will show me the truth, even if it knocks me down a peg.

Eddie and I have been so blessed in recent weeks to see a small circle of Belizean friends forming around us. They are neighbors, church members and fellow ministers who we've shown our weakness to and who have leaned in to become a source of strength. There are plenty of things we need help with, between navigating schools, real estate, culture and politics. By being vulnerable and asking for help, we are gaining so much from their wisdom and generosity.

Even more importantly, we are establishing relationships where we're not pretending to be invincible. We are saying from the get-go that we need others' strength to lift us when we're down and we need others to point out our blind spots too. Maybe when we take turns being strong for others and accepting their support, we will have the longevity and authenticity to be the change we want to see.

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