Indeed many congregants, they have expectations for the sanctified life. They have assumptions and they expect the pastor to embody them. And the assumptions are fairly simple: the pastor is sinless and the pastor is self-sufficient. He needs nothing. Now that is indeed a difficult expectation, but it gets a little bit more complicated, and it gets more complicated in this way: pastors want to be strong. Congregations indeed have inaccurate expectations, but pastors would prefer, if possible, to appear a bit sinless and self-sufficient. And I know this because it takes one to indeed know one.

Well, this is not the way it can be. We know this. The problem, of course, is that the church can follow the lead of the pastor. And a church that is not weak is a church that doesn't pray, is a church that is lacking in faith and dependence on Jesus Christ. Incomprehensible.

So, great question, and we want to grow in this. Here are a couple ideas. One: small step. Ask for prayer from your congregation for your sermon preparation. Let's say it's a challenging passage. It's a tough nut to crack. You want to understand it well and accurately. Ask for prayer for such things. You want to go a little bit farther, a little bit more into this land of weakness. Say this: “This passage has been slow to just grab my own soul. And would you pray for me that this would become in some way my passage that I can offer to others?” That's a small step. Simply following the Apostle Paul's tradition in saying to the church in Thessalonia, pray for us. Pray for us.

Second thing you can do: are you open with your own spouse? Do you speak about your own fears? Fears are one way to speak about our weaknesses and that we are created to be dependent on another. Does your spouse always have one way to pray for your soul? Have you been that open with her?

A couple other thoughts. Consider a series on the normal Christian life. Normal Christian life—what is it? It's a life of faith. It's a life of intense trouble every single day. It's a life of battle. It's a life of endurance. It's a life of thankfulness. It's a life of groaning. It's a life of growing contentment. It is a life of weakness day after day after day, wondering if we can even go on. That's the normal Christian life.

A fair paraphrase I hope of 2 Corinthians is this: Paul says, “Weakness is the new strength, and you will like it. You will even boast about it, because when you are weak, we are all directed to the one on whom we are dependent.”