Ministry Resources

Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing

Author: Angela Craig

There are few books that will change you forever.

Andy Crouch’s book, Strong and Weak: Embracing a life of love, risk and true flourishing may be one of those books.

It is packed full of “ah ha” moments just waiting to transform your thinking and your life. (No, I did not get paid for writing that.)

The theme of the book, Strong and Weak, is based on 2 Corinthians 12:9:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Second Corinthians 12:9 happens to be my life verse, so Andy Crouch had my attention at word one. Whether it is your life verse or not, the book is worth reading.

But if you are like me and have a pile of books stacked to the ceiling next to your bed or on your desk, here is a brief summary to get you going.

The word flourishing captures Jesus’ life purpose in John 10:10: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Who doesn’t want that?

Andy Crouch says, “To flourish we must act, risk, give ourselves to the world and pursue the authority of Christ” {Author’s paraphrase}.

The book centers around a chart that describes two dimensions of power – authority and vulnerability. (See a picture of the chart below with my notes.)

Jesus had all authority but took on all vulnerability to meet us and call us into REAL life! As disciples and imitators of Jesus, we are to do the same.

This chart gives an eye opening view of what happens when we live in different dimensions of power.

  • Vulnerability without Authority = Suffering, Poverty, Exposure to risk without being able to change it
  • Authority without Vulnerability = Idolatry, Injustice, exploitation
  • Neither Vulnerability or Authority = Retreat to safety, withdrawal
  • Authority with Vulnerability = Flourishing, meaningful action combined with meaningful risk.

Let me give you a few examples of how this applies to real life.

Personally, I have fallen into all four categories. As a child of divorce I lived in a world of high vulnerability and low authority. As a young adult I watched a friend wither under the pressure of mental illness and another fight cancer. But without authority (education) or emotional vulnerability (ability to walk with them in the suffering) I retreated and withdrew to a place of safety far away from the reality of their diseases leaving them to fend for themselves. (Not my most shining moments.) In college I saw the opportunities for leadership and took on all authority but had very little vulnerability with others. That is what I thought a leader was supposed to be. I was wrong. As a wife and a mother I have learned that to flourish I must have both.

Here are some other common examples of power dimensions we live within. Do you see yourself in any of these, can you add others?

  • Comparison {high vulnerability – low authority}

We compare to check and make sure we are okay. When we compare, we hand over any authority that Christ has given us by saying that what God gave us is not enough.

2 Corinthians 10:12 (Message)

“Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!”

Isolation/escapism {high authority – low vulnerability}

One of the most shocking statistics is that the average American spent 9.9 hours (yes, I said HOURS) per day on a screen in 2015.

I am barely awake that long!

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Without meaningful risk to enter community we do not build character or relationships.

  • Offense {high authority – low vulnerability}

Offense is a sign that we should earnestly seek to understand. Seeking to understand leaves us open to saying we were wrong or we didn’t have all the information. That is true vulnerability.

Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

  • Fear {no authority – high vulnerability}

It is true. There are many scary things happening in the world. But fear is rooted in our inability to claim authority in Christ and trust God.

We need to shift from the belief that F.E.A.R. is Feeling Everything’s Awful Real to Face Everything And Rise!

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

After reading these examples, what are some things you need to change to live a life of love, risk and true flourishing?

What's Next

We would love to answer any question you have or help suggest next steps on your journey.