The following is the story of a very famous pastor and speaker…
One limitation I have, for example, is that I was born with a brain malfunction. I took medicine from the time I was a child until college, because I would often faint. I could be sitting in a classroom and just kneel over. I even had to take a year off from college because of this. It was a scary time. It’s complicated, but a simplistic explanation is that my brain has an unusual reaction to adrenaline.
Now anybody who speaks knows adrenaline is the pastor’s best friend. It gives you passion, alertness, and energy. The very thing I need to accomplish what God has called me to do acts like a poison for me. I guess it’s a thorn in the flesh. When I speak, I’m often unable to clearly see the congregation during the first several minutes of the normal adrenaline rush. People look blurry, I feel panic, and it is extremely painful to speak.
People ask me, “Do you ever get full of pride speaking to all those people?” Honestly, that’s the last thing on my mind. I’m praying, “God, get me through this. Use this weak vessel, and in my weakness, you be strong.”
Excerpt from Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration (Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2007), 36.
Guess who that is?
Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
We should say instead: “With great spiritual influence comes great thorns in the flesh.”
What does God use to keep you from becoming conceited?
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:7b-10)