Reflecting on Strong and Weak

Rev. Cliff WarnerCliffNotes, Frontpage News

Parishioner Scott Friesen’s reflections on the book we read together for Lent.

Andy Crouch’s Strong and Weak resonated with me in a way that no other book has in a long time.  Crouch says that as humans we are made to flourish and that requires us to be both “strong” (to take meaningful action – “authority“) and “weak (to expose ourselves to meaningful risk – “vulnerability”).  Andy includes this 2×2 chart showing the different quadrants that result from acting with authority and vulnerability.

As I read the book, God showed me through several experiences in the past few weeks with my family and friends how I sometimes withdraw (quadrant III) as a self-protective response. My avoidance of the risk of vulnerability and the risk of using my authority to act hindered flourishing.  Our Heavenly Father calls us to pursue Him, to take risks and use our best energies to love others, not to play it safe to avoid making a mistake.  I want to fully press into and use my best authority (skills, energies, focus, intellect) and choose to take meaningful risks (risking reputation, finances, time), so that my life can contribute to the flourishing of others.

This 2×2 matrix of Authority & Vulnerability is so helpful in my relationship with my wife, Karen.  Just the other day, we were talking on the phone while I waited in the Houston airport about the challenges my long work hours put on her.  I readied myself to explain the situation or to briefly acknowledge the issue and then change the subject (wait, does Karen get this eNews? ☺), but with Strong & Weak fresh on my mind, I was compelled to have the conversation with her (taking meaningful action) and to express my desire to understand her and to be understood (choosing vulnerability in both) rather than to just provide my three-point explanation.  As we both jumped into the conversation and shared how this situation impacted us, we also expressed our commitment and love for each other.  It seems so simple, and as you’d expect, this did lead to a more fruitful conversation.  I’m thankful for this call by Andy Crouch to choose to be strong and weak, which I’ll need a thousand times more in my life.

May God help us all to choose to be strong & weak!