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Don't Blow Out Other People's Candles

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Just recently I heard this great quote about people not needing to blow out other people's candles so that theirs would shine brighter. I believe the source of the quote was a grandfather passing down wisdom to his grandson. That'll preach!
Anyway, whose candle have you been thinking about snuffing out lately?
It sounds so harsh, doesn't it? I mean, not too many people would care to admit their ill intent on a co-worker's performance, so that their chances of getting a promotion would increase dramatically. But, it happens. At the same time, all of us have heard people diminish the strengths and accomplishments of others to make themselves look or sound better.
Is that really necessary, though? It isn't. There's a better way. 
Romans 13:7 says, Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 
And there it is. If someone you're competing with is worthy of encouragement or a compliment or some sort of an award, then give it to them. We're called to give honor when honor is owed. 
Life is a series of thousands upon thousands of moments. You're not going to be the hero of every moment. That's okay. Sometimes other people are going to shine brighter than you, and when they do, pour celebration and praise and honor all over them. 
Your time will come. Your moment to shine will arrive soon. God's grace is large enough and His plan is brilliant enough to allow your gifts and talents to make a huge impact at the right time. 
So, trust the Lord. Your time will come. There's no need to diminish the brilliance of another person to hasten your moment of shininess. 
After all, God gets all the glory, anyway. Anything that's worthy of praise in our life or in the life of another is because of the grace and greatness of God. 
So, no need to snuff out anyone's candle today to make yours shine brighter. Your success doesn't depend upon the success or failure of another person. It's all in God's hands. 
You are Loved! 
Posted by Brent Halvorsen with

When Your Strength Becomes Weakness

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How many times have you heard people say that your greatest strength can also become your greatest weakness? I've heard it said or taught countless numbers of times. 
What does it mean, though, really?
I mean, how does being really, really wise at some point become a weakness? How does being incredibly merciful turn into something harmful? Where could one possibly go wrong from being unusually intelligent?
It's actually a confusing teaching. 
Here's what I think people mean when they teach this catchy saying. First, it's not true that wisdom, in and of itself, can somehow become a negative or a weakness. God is all wise and there isn't a point in which His wisdom is going to become weakness. It's His wisdom, in part, that helps to make everything that He chooses to accomplish perfect. God's wisdom will never become a weakness. 
You can say that same thing about having a strength like mercy. Mercy in and of itself is not weakness. It's amazing. God's mercy will never become a negative. It will never prove to make Him weak. Never. In fact, someone has to be very strong in order to relent from giving someone the full weight of the punishment they deserve. 
So then how does it happen? How does a strength become a weakness?
Well, God's strengths never becomes weakness because He's God. Enough said. Our strengths, however, can become weakness because we're not God and we don't always know how to apply our strengths or tune down our strengths or quit using our strengths. 
Here's what I mean. If we always use our strength in every context, then we're going to find that our strength will almost certainly reach a point of diminishing returns. At some point our strengths run out of strength. It all depends upon the context and the timing. Not every difficult or challenging situation in life is alleviated by the strength of your strengths. 
Think about it this way. If, as a parent, you are strong in mercy and you are only and always merciful toward your child in every circumstance, then your strength will eventually become a weakness. If a child is only given mercy and never given the chance to understand justice, then your parenting will fall short. Your child needs mercy but they also need to know that their actions have real and sometimes very heavy consequences as well. 
One more illustration. If someone who is wise, and quite fond of their wisdom, wrongly believes that their brand of wisdom is the only useful wisdom in the marketplace, then their overly confident outlook is going to eventually come back to haunt them. No human strength is perfectly strong. Our strengths have limits and holes and imperfections. 
So, use your strengths and build on your strengths and be thankful for your strengths, but be careful that you don't falsely believe that your strengths are the answer to every solution. 
God knows this and that's why He wants you to be fully pressing into His strength at all times. You need Him. You will always need Him. When you and I rely too heavily on our strengths, we'll eventually hurt ourselves. 
You Are Loved!
(Part of the 'Into the Depths' series.) 
Posted by Brent Halvorsen with