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Monday, February 2, 2015

Weakness & Meekness

Today is Ground Hog Day. Supposedly, if it’s cloudy in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the groundhog Phil is telling us spring will come early. But if the sun is shining on Phil, and he sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter. In this case, the sun causes him to retreat back into his burrow.

In a job interview, questions that tend to make us feel awkward or embarrassed cause us to retreat as well. One commonly used question of this ilk is, “What is your greatest weakness?” AWKWARD! Let me go hide.

Forbes contributor Liz Ryan has no regard for this personal interrogation. As she wrote in Forbes a few weeks ago, “It’s an unspeakably rude question for one person to ask another. We don’t hear the impoliteness in this question on a job interview, because we’ve been trained to think it’s normal for recruiters and hiring managers to ask job-seekers very personal things.”

People often respond with comments from career coaches explaining that their weakness might be they work too hard or are perfectionistic. Hardly real weaknesses. Just a mild self deprecating spin to make the weakness a strength.

Liz attempts to wisely help those who will still face this job interview question. If asked about perceived weaknesses, she suggests a reply that explains that you don’t focus on your weaknesses, but on your strengths. I like that. It’s really a good philosophy for life.

Sharing our weaknesses can make us feel more timid, mild, broken, and even spiritless. All of those words are interestingly synonyms of the work meekness. But meekness is actually a much more healthy word. It should bring to mind a godly sense of humility, recognizing our true place in the universe.

With this is mind, we should feel freed up to admit, in a more honest and lighthearted fashion, our weaknesses. For example, I am clearly out of my league on virtually anything mechanical. No natural skill. No interest. I am also not a meeting kind of guy. Long classes, sermons, etc., must be truly compelling or I want out. I could go on.

But I also bring strengths to the workplace. A healthy self perspective requires I not boast, but neither should I retreat from sharing what I believe I’m best at. In fact, the more that my best abilities can be identified and put into practice in the workplace, the more valuable I can become to my employer or those I serve.

Here is the way the apostle Paul advised followers of Jesus to live life. “I therefore, …appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service, living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.” (Ephesians 4:1-2, Amplified Bible)

My counsel? Be grateful to God today for your strengths. Recognize they are gifts from Him. Admit you have weaknesses, but focus on your strengths. Don’t overestimate or underestimate who you are. Live…meekly. Not weakly.

I will now return to my burrow. Let me know when winter is over.

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Catch “Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand" weekday afternoons from 4-6pm on AM 1160 Hope for Your Life. To listen to the live broadcast or a podcast of previous shows click here.

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