Mention of disciples or discipleship generally associates with a local church. The fact of the matter is this: we are all disciples, followers of someone or some institution we perceive as authoritative.
A disciple is a follower of the doctrines of a teacher or a school of thought.
The disciples of Jesus Christ chose to follow him. No one put a gun to their heads. Becoming a disciple is a choice.
Each of the disciples who followed Jesus were unique in their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Those disciples who were fishermen had powerful muscles to manually haul in nets full of fish. They were able to withstand a lot of pain. Their thickly calloused hands would amaze you. A common strength was extraordinary physical endurance.
Matthew worked as a tax collector. His hands were not thickly calloused. His strengths were accounting, keen observation, discernment, and a high degree of literacy.
What about their weaknesses? Well, what about them?
Focusing on your own or another’s weaknesses discourages us. Can I say it? We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard. Discussing someone’s weaknesses discourages them. Now, can we move on?
1 Thessalonians 5:11 directs us to encourage each other and build each other up, not to discourage each other by wallowing in weaknesses. If there is no one around to encourage you, encourage yourself! I point to King David who, at one of the lowest points in his life, was nearly killed by his own followers. You probably know someone who committed suicide, perhaps due to an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Instead of giving in to depression and suicidal thoughts, David encouraged himself by means of the grace of God.
If you are suicidal or know someone at risk of suicide, refocus from helplessness to something you or the other person does well, some strength, some special ability. By no means should you focus on or discuss weaknesses or failures; doing so takes the situation deeper. It is said, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!”
Let’s choose to encourage others by acknowledging their strengths and by identifying the only true source of those strengths, the Living God.
The work of CARE Center Ministries and Hilltop Church in the Pleasant Grove neighborhood of Dallas is to move people from the pits of hell into the Kingdom of God through Overcomers equipping classes for people of all ages ensnared by addictions.