There is a legend in Greek mythology that details the story of a baby on whom a young death was prophesied. This baby’s name was Achilles.
To thwart this prophecy, Achilles’ mother, Thetis, took him to the River Styx, a river that supposedly offered powers of invulnerability. Thetis placed her faith in this river’s fabled power, and commenced to dip her son’s body into it. Because Achilles was still a baby, however, Thetis had to hold on to him throughout the event, and, as she did, held him by his heel.
Therefore every part of Achilles’ body was made invulnerable by this magical water, minus his heel.
Achilles grew up to be a mighty warrior and survived many battles, but one day an arrow happened to puncture his vulnerable heel, killing him shorty thereafter. Today, in light of this story, we often use the adage, “His Achilles Heel,” to describe, in spite of all of his strength, a man’s greatest weakness, a weakness that could ultimately lead to his downfall.
When it comes to the ministry, many pastors have their own “Achilles Heel.” That is, in spite of all of our invulnerabilities, we have an even greater vulnerability. And this, like the original Achilles, can lead to a devastating conclusion.
Many pastors–and I include myself in this camp–have things in our lives that we savagely protect. And if anyone, including God, threatens these things, we lose all diplomacy. Like a loose thread on a garment, the ministry can pull the right string causing everything to unravel. Some of these things include our ambitions, our reputations, our possessions, our rights, and our alleged greatness.
We are okay until we don’t get that raise. We are okay until we don’t get that new church. We are okay until we don’t get that book deal. We are okay until we don’t get that convention position. We are okay until we don’t have a certain amount of people in morning worship. And we are okay until Pastor X gets an opportunity over us.
The result is that we spend our lives building up our own name, but limiting ourselves from being able to share God’s name.
Leonard Ravenhill, in his book Why Revival Tarries, describes how Paul lived his life as if he had been totally dipped into the River Styx. That is, as if he didn’t have an Achilles Heel. He writes,
He had no side issues, no books to sell. He had no ambitions–and so had nothing to be jealous about. He had no reputation–and so had nothing to fight about. He and no possessions–and therefore nothing to worry about. He had no ‘rights‘–so therefore he could not suffer wrong. He was already broken–so no one could break him. He was ‘dead‘–so none could kill him. He was less than the least–so who could humble him? He had suffered the loss of all things–so none could defraud him” (emphasis mine, pg. 164).
In light of this, I wonder, what is your “Achilles Heel”? In spite of all of your strengths, what is the one thing you savagely protect that can unravel your life faster than Tony Romo in the 4th quarter of a football game? Is it your reputation? Is it your personal ambitions? Is it your stuff?
Paul shows us that when we are at our weakest, God is at his strongest. He had nothing to lose, and so he gained everything, because he gained Christ.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:7-8).