Are You a Failure, or Are You Flawed? - Kris Vallotton

December 28, 2016

No PhD for Me

A few years ago a friend of mine, the chancellor of a Christian university in the United States, called and offered me an earned doctorate from his university. I have no formal education beyond high school, so I was very interested. I think he offered me the degree mainly because his university uses several of my books in its ministry track, which I helped to develop.

The plan was for me to write a dissertation and challenge all the subjects that made up the ministry track. I was very excited about the opportunity to earn my doctorate—and in less than a year. To make matters better, the university agreed to use the manuscript I had written about empowering women, which I had just completed, as my dissertation. All I had to do was reformat it.

I called my mother to give her the good news. She wept on the phone and told me how proud she was of me. Several months passed, and things progressed quickly. Then one night I woke up out of a dead sleep, and I heard the Lord ask me a question: “You never talked to me about getting a PhD at a university. What do you think you’re doing?” I responded, “Lord, I am kind of excited about getting my degree. You know I have no education to speak of, so this will give me a lot of credibility with people.” He continued,

“Kris, if you have letters after your name, people will think you can be great on your own, and we both know that you can’t! You were born to be an example of what I can do with weakness. When people observe your life and see who you have become and what you have accomplished in the midst of your faults, failures, flaws, frailties, and weaknesses, they will know that your greatness is rooted in Me. Your life was meant to be an inspiration for the weak and the broken. Many people will put their trust in Me because of what I do through you. Now call the university, and cancel your doctorate!”

I cried the rest of the night. I didn’t realize how deeply rooted my desire was to be admired by people who were highly educated and intelligent. But I knew the Lord was right, so I cancelled it.

In Our Weakness…

The fact is, I’ve written eleven books, four manuals, and developed five curricula to date, and I absolutely can’t spell! To make matters worse, I can barely type. Nine years have passed since I wrote my first book, and in my defense, I have learned quite a bit about writing. But I still can’t spell, nor do I type very well. Yet something phenomenal happens to me every time I sit down to write; I see concepts and pictures in my mind. Then I often hear this inner voice that tells me to paint with words. At the risk of being misunderstood or being thought of as hyper spiritual, I have to say that the Holy Spirit actually taught (and is still teaching) me to write!

To be clear, I’m not stupid, but I am flawed and weak in certain areas. The difficulty is that the places where my flaws and weaknesses show up the most are in the areas I am called to. I guess this is sort of obvious. I mean, if you can’t sing, and you don’t sing, then your weaknesses are covered in that you stay away from the stuff you’re not good at. But if you can’t type, and you can’t spell, yet you are called to be an author, then you are working in your weakness, not ministering in your strength. And though it might not make sense according to worldly logic, somehow it does in light of God.

The apostle Paul put it best: “[The Lord] has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses . . . for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–11).

I’m certainly not promoting a doctrine of ignorance or a policy of anti-education. I would never go to a medical doctor who was “taught by the Holy Spirit” and hadn’t graduated from medical school! So, please, if you are called to a vocation that requires higher education, get a degree and pursue it with all your heart, and with all of your mind, and with all of your strength. What I am saying is that you need to do the world a favor and be an original! We have enough cubic zirconia Christians hungry for diamonds whose beauty was created from the pressures of life (not images manufactured by some marketing campaign). The awe of believers with all of their flaws exposed under the microscope of public inspection is indeed attractive. It’s in our flaws and weaknesses that the intrinsic beauty of our Creator shines through our brokenness: light refracting through humanity manifesting in the many colors of His nature. When and where we are weak, He is strong, and His strength is revealed by our weaknesses.

Where do you see God using your own weaknesses to shine through you? Are you comfortable with your flaws, or do you find it challenging to let your imperfections show? What helps you to embrace your weaknesses? Let me know in the comments section below!

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