When Strengths Become Weaknesses

Guh, this article was convicting... 

 Writing in Leadership Journal, John Raines cautions against "Expertitis." Here's a medical description of this spiritual illness:

Expertise makes it easy to spot imperfection...The technical term for the malady is expertitis. It's an inflammation of the expertise cortex, that, when unchecked, can lead to a chronic overstimulation of the pompous gland.
He also provides an example of the condition (which hit me like a Buick in the sternum): 

In graduate school and as I entered the ministry, I found that I and many of my friends became afflicted with expertitis either while listening to a sermon or immediately following one. Symptoms of this sickness include grimaces, sidelong glances, snide whispers, and pedantic monologues in the car ride home or over lunch. Or, sometimes the only symptom exhibited is mentally checking-out—disconnecting from the sermon, the preacher, the Word.

Tragically, this is an all-too-accurate diagnosis of my condition. My poor wife has been subjected to many a tedious sermon. And often, I'm not the one preaching. She must sit next to me, and endure my grimaces, body-language, and nauseatingly nit-picky remarks about Greek syntax or semantics. The Holy Spirit can barely get a word in edgewise. Oh, and rest assured; I've blessed her with plenty of post-sermon pedantic monologues.  

Raines diagnoses a specific mutation of a deeper malady: pride. Augustine said that pride is the mother of all sin. Pride gives birth to all kinds of vices. It runs deep, and it's deeply insidious. C.S. Lewis said,

There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.
And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.
The vice I am talking of is Pride. . . .
. . . In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, “How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?”
The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride.
It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise.

—C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952), chapter 8.

Our pride puts us at odds with God and his purposes (James 4:6). It not only offends him; it places us in opposition to him. Further, when we're opposed to God, our greatest assets can degenerate into our greatest liabilities. God has endowed each of us with certain strengths. Each of us has some area of expertise. But if we merely use those strengths for self-promotion or self-aggrandizement (or to convince ourselves that we're superior to others) their power has been nullified. Worse, we become obnoxious to others, and our strengths actually repel them.   

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Cor 8:1). Each of us has things that we love to do. Each of us has areas where we absolutely excel. The question I'm grappling with is this; how am I using my strengths to serve others? If I don't intentionally bless others with my strengths, they will turn against me. 

For instance, my first thought after a listening to a sermon should (probably) be this; "how can I apply this, and how can I help my wife to apply it?" If I don't aim to serve and bless, then all of my training and personal study are actually a debilitating weakness to me and others. 

How has God gifted you? What's your area of expertise? How are you using it to bless your brothers and sisters in the faith? Your neighbors?