Even the strength we think we have comes from our need to compare ourselves to others. We may be correct in thinking we’re much more gifted in a certain area or areas in comparison to others. But what is that in comparison to God? Even our strength is weakness, and until we’re willing to acknowledge that, even what little strength we have is useless to God.
Study the life of Abraham sometime. On a personal level, that may have been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in terms of understanding how God operates in our lives. Over and over, you see this cycle: God calls –> Abraham tries to do things his own way, and fails miserably –> Abraham finally “gets it,” relents and allows God to accomplish His will in His way and with His timing –> Abraham himself begins to truly reflect God’s will. Thus, in the end, Abraham gets where God wants him, but in God’s way and God’s way only. Abraham was an ordinary man, with an extraordinary God.
Likewise, we often want to do God’s work, but nearly as often don’t want to do it in God’s way. But unless what we do starts and ends with God, it’s worth nothing. Do we want to give birth to an Ishmael or an Isaac?
Our strength—or rather, our reliance upon it—is still pride. And likewise, it must be broken. Watchman Nee, in his book Changed Into His Likeness, put it this way, “The characteristic of those who truly know God is that they have no faith in their own competence, no reliance upon themselves.” When we reach that point, then we are truly useful to God.