KEYWORDS: lord, people, standard, others, restrictions, guidelines

Weaknesses, Strengths & Setting Standards

Karen Zerby

—Another Lesson on "Bearing the Infirmities of the Weak!"—Rom.15:1—By Maria Maria #106 DO 2558 7/89

1. I've said before that some people are just naturally strong. It's not like a supernatural miraculous thing, they just have it. Of course, the Lord's the One Who made them that way in the first place‚ so their strength is from the Lord nonetheless!

2. They're just strong, solid, soldiers! Their first reaction to changes or challenges is not, "Oh no!—This will never work! How can we possibly do this?!" Instead they respond with, "Praise the Lord! This is a great idea! Look how it will benefit the Work! Let's see how we can do it!"

3. People like that usually have a very high standard for themselves, & naturally, if you have a high standard for yourself‚ you also tend to expect the same of others. We should expect people to do well & we should expect people to do the best that they can. But a lot of people simply are weaker‚ & we must not require of them a standard that's higher than they can reach. (See ML#1141, "The Doorknob's Too High!")

4. When you as a leader are really strong in certain areas, it's very important that you realise that not everybody is as strong as you are. Your standard may be very high. Of course, you're human, & you still have battles & lessons you're learning, but your battles probably don't keep you from maintaining your standard. They probably help to keep you feeling weaker & more dependent on the Lord.—And that feeling of being somewhat weak is the very thing that helps you to understand & sympathise with others.

5. But sometimes those who have a very high personal standard find it difficult to decide exactly where the line is & how much they should demand or expect of others.—Should it be as much as they demand of themselves or should it be much less? When your own standard is right & you know it's right, it's hard to know just how much leeway you should allow others.

6. With most of our top leaders we've got to demand & expect a lot, but with other people down the line‚ so to speak, we sometimes have to give them a bit more leeway & we can't always count on them to come up to our standard. They should, but in many cases they're just not going to, not everyone can. So there's a fine line there, & a balance must be found.

7. We've written to some of our field supervisors about how they need to demand more from some of their people, how they need to administer more discipline to some of them. But on the other hand, our stronger leaders need to realise that not everybody is going to come up to their particular high standards, the sheep are not always going to have the same reactions & responses that they have. They should, but they're not always going to. They just aren't always that strong or dedicated. Just because you're strong in certain areas, you can't expect everyone else to be.

8. You've got to try to relate to your sheep & their trials. However‚ if you are weak in certain areas, you've also got to be careful when you can easily understand others & relate to them, that as a result you don't become too easy or overly merciful with them. Otherwise, you'll wind up allowing them to get away with too much.

9. I can often relate to or sympathise with people who because of their weaknesses go through big battles over certain things.—Perhaps it's something that they very much want to do, even though it may not necessarily be the thing that's best for the Lord's Work. I can feel for them, & I know I'd probably feel the same way if I were in their shoes. But even though I can understand what a big trial they must be having, I can also see what the Lord wants them to do.—And that's what we as leaders or Shepherds or parents must judge things by, not merely our own personal feelings of sympathy & mercy.

10. Whenever there's a discrepancy between our feelings of sympathy for people & what the Lord is requiring of them, we just have to say‚ "Well, this is what the Lord requires!—And if you yield to Him, He'll give you the victory!" Not‚ "Oh, you poor thing, I understand you & I know it's hard, so that's all right, you don't have to do such-&-such, it's too difficult!" It's true that it may be too difficult in the natural, which is why we have to have the Lord's help!—"The things that are impossible with Man are possible with God!"—Luk.18:27.

11. A lot of things are too difficult for us to overcome & conquer in our own strength, but we know the Lord has the power & we know the Lord can do it. That's why we can require of others what we know the Lord wants, because we know the Lord doesn't require any more of us than we can handle!—He always makes a "way of escape," & promises that His grace is sufficient!—1Cor.10:13; 2Cor.12:9.

12. So that's the battle we sometimes have when we understand & can personally relate to others' weaknesses & can feel for them in their trials. When we understand what they're going through & how hard it is, we feel a lot of mercy for them & it's difficult to relay a message to them like, "Well, here's what the Lord wants you to do, so you'll just have to do it!"—Even though we know He'll help them want His Will as they yield to it.

13. But when a leader is real strong‚ it's sometimes difficult for them to understand how somebody else could be so weak, to really put themselves in the other person's place. A strong leader like that will usually be much quicker to say, "Okay, this is what you're supposed to do, so do it!"—Without hesitancy or going through the battle of, "Oh, this poor person, how are they ever going to do it?"—Like I often do.

14. I sometimes wonder, "How can they do it?"‚ & I realise that the only way they can is with the Lord's help.—And that's what we have to hang on to when requiring people to do things that we know will be hard for them. Obviously‚ they can't do it‚ but if we have the faith & we know that the Lord can do it, then we know we can pull them up to the Lord's standard & require of them what He wants!

15. So in some ways, being weak or weaker has its advantages, because you really can understand & empathise & sympathise with others who are also weak. But it has its disadvantages in that you may be tempted to sympathise too much with them & say or think, "Oh, you poor thing, I know it's hard & you can't do it." We really have to watch out for that & look to the Lord & what His standard is & insist that people do what He wants them to do in spite of how hard it is.

16. It's a good thing to be able to sympathise with people & to realise & understand what they're going through. Like Dad brought out so beautifully in "Prayer for Love & Mercy" (ML #75), a good Shepherd needs to be sympathetic to people & realise when things are difficult for them. But you've got to find the balance. Your understanding & sympathy for others shouldn't prevent you from giving them the discipline the Lord expects you to give them. You've still got to correct people when they need it, you've got to require that they meet the Lord's requirements & standards.

17. Just remember, when you're stronger than they are you can't always demand or expect them to be exactly like you in every respect. But you can insist that they obey what God tells them to do & encourage them to strive to pass the tests that He knows are needed to make them strong.


18. In some cases, a person may not have the strength or willpower to overcome the problems or weaknesses that are hindering them. They could very well want the victory & want to meet the Lord's standard for them, but are simply unable to make the changes they need to make on their own.—In which case, they need others, usually their leaders‚ to step in & help them.

19. Many times people know they need help, & they even expect it. For example, someone might not have the willpower to take a definite stand on their own & say, "I know I shouldn't drink so much, so I'm going to stop!" But in their heart they wish somebody would just come along & take the bottle out of their cupboard, give them some restrictions & help them to overcome that weakness.

20. Or someone may feel like, "I know I need to break out of this unfruitful relationship that isn't doing me any good‚" but they just don't have the strength or courage to initiate such a change on their own. In their hearts they're actually waiting for their leader to come along & put their foot down & say, "Okay, no more! You two need to separate!"

21. In such cases, it's the Shepherd's responsibility to help their sheep by giving them the guidance & discipline that they desperately need. You can't always just say, "Okay, straighten up, do this, do that!"—You sometimes need to discuss their problems with them & then lay down specific rules, restrictions & guidelines in order to make it easier for them to overcome them. Unless someone really addresses their problem & lays down the guidelines & rules for them, they often can't make the needed changes by themselves.

22. Sometimes they don't have the strength to even say that they need help. Many times people would like to change, but they can't bring themselves to admit it or ask for it.—In which case it's the Shepherd's responsibility to step in & rescue them from the thorns or brambles that they're caught up in, to lovingly point out the problem or weak area‚ & then to give them some guidelines to help them overcome it.

23. Lots of us need guidelines & restrictions like that.—I even need help like that! For example, I recently had to tell our kitchen helpers that I simply lack the willpower to avoid overeating! I really enjoy eating & will eat too much if they serve it to me. So I told them to please give me a smaller plate from now on, & not to give me seconds.—Otherwise, if they put too much in front of me‚ the temptation to overeat is too strong, & I will!

24. So I had to recognise & admit my weakness in this area, & accept certain restrictions. Of course, in this instance, I instituted & suggested these restrictions myself, of my own free will.—And when people can recognise their weak areas & do something about it on their own, or ask for others' help on their own, fine. But a lot of people may be having problems of a much more serious nature, & they may simply lack the willpower to suggest or impose the restrictions that are needed upon themselves.—In which case their leadership needs to step in & lay down the needed guidelines.

25. Often, people really do want to change, but they're just powerless to make the changes on their own. They just can't make the break or stop doing something unless they're helped. Again, "We that are strong need to bear the infirmities of the weak!"—Rom.15:1

26. It's almost like what we have to do with our own children: Children don't usually come up to their parents & tell them, "I know I shouldn't do such-&-such any more!—So I'll avoid this temptation & that temptation!" It's the parents' responsibility to help point out their children's problems & weak areas, & when necessary, to lay down the guidelines & restrictions that the child needs.—And usually, in his heart‚ the child is happy for the discipline & the steps taken to help him get back on the right track.

27. God bless you & help you to lovingly uphold the Lord's standard in your own life, as well as with others! PTL! ILY!