Build on Strengths to Overcome Weakness, Says Bishop Caussé

  By Marianne Holman

  • 11 December 2013

Bishop Gérald Caussé, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, addresses students, faculty, and staff at the Marriott Center on the campus of Brigham Young University on December 3, 2013.  Photo by Marcos Escalona, BYU.

Article Highlights

  • Bishop Caussé gave four suggestions for strengthening weakness:
  • 1. Build on strengths.
  • 2. Recognize personal limitations.
  • 3. Rely on the Lord.
  • 4. Qualify to receive the grace of the Savior.

“Our problem is never that we have no strengths; the problem comes when we do not recognize our strengths and build upon them.” —Bishop Gérald Caussé of the Presiding Bishopric

Weak things can be made strong through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Bishop Gérald Caussé said during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University on December 3. As snow fell outside, students gathered in the Marriott Center to hear the words of the First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.

“Each of you has been endowed with a remarkable set of gifts, talents, and abilities,” he said. “As you build upon these strengths, humbly recognize your personal limitations, remain faithful to your covenants, and put your confidence in the Lord, you will see your weaknesses transformed into strengths through the power and grace of His Atonement. You will be able to meet the challenges you will face in your life.”

Bishop Caussé shared four principles that help “weak things become strong” and help individuals find strength to overcome the challenges of life.

1. Build on strengths

“When you look in the mirror each morning, what do you see?” he asked. “We are such a blend of multiple and diverse talents, traits, and attributes. All of us have abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and inadequacies. However, getting an objective and accurate evaluation of our own selves is difficult.”

While some take an indulgent and embellished look at themselves, others focus on their weaknesses and doubt their own abilities.

“One of the most comforting teachings of the gospel is that each son and daughter of God—every one of us—is born with an inheritance of gifts, talents, and abilities that can help us through our earthly mission,” he said.

Drawing from Doctrine and Covenants 46:11, which reads, “For there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God,” Bishop Caussé said, “We cannot be happy and successful in life without gratefully acknowledging those gifts and doing all we can to develop them. Our problem is never that we have no strengths; the problem comes when we do not recognize our strengths and build upon them.”

2. Recognize personal limitations

“For some, one of life’s greatest challenges is accepting their own limits,” he said. “Because of pride, they prefer to see themselves as bigger, stronger, and more capable than they really are. They want to create this illusion both to impress others and especially themselves.”

A choir performs during the campus devotional at BYU. Photo by Marcos Escalona, BYU.

Sharing an experience from his youth, Bishop Caussé spoke of the time that his vision started to get progressively worse. He did not want to recognize or accept that he needed glasses, and he suffered because of the difficulty of not being able to see. Several months passed, and a medical checkup proved his vision was not clear and glasses were necessary. The new glasses made his vision crisp and life more enjoyable.

“One reason we may not want to acknowledge our personal limitations is that weakness is perceived by society as a fault or a failure,” he said. “The world values the cult of the invincible. … We see people who want to hide their problems under the appearance of strength through boasting, aggressiveness, or abusive behaviors.”

Some focus so much on outperforming others that they turn to drugs or other stimulants in order to do so, while others lose themselves in egotism and self-admiration. These forms of pride lead to disappointment, ineffectiveness, or worse, he said.

“God is not the God of superheroes, nor of people without weakness—such beings do not exist!” he said. “He helps people like you and me, those who recognize their limits and their weaknesses and seek His help and guidance. Failing to recognize our limitations will block our progression. On the other hand, accepting them humbly lays the foundation for eternal progression.”

3. Rely on the Lord

“Pride leads its victims to their fall,” he said. “It whispers to them: You can get there all alone. You just need a little intelligence and strength. This reasoning may work in certain aspects of our lives. However, it is of no value in accomplishing the core purpose of our existence.”

Bishop Gérald Caussé, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, sits with his wife, Sister Valerie Lucienne Babin Caussé, prior to speaking during the campus devotional at BYU. Photo by Marcos Escalona, BYU.

Personal abilities, intelligence, and work are not sufficient enough to cause an individual to fulfill the measure of their creation and rise to the level of perfection required to return to the presence of God. It is through a complete dependence on the Savior that individuals are able to reach their full potential.

“Recognizing our personal limitations does not mean that we should put ourselves down and wallow in our weaknesses,” he said. “Accepting our limitations is not an excuse to limit ourselves.”

Disciples of Jesus Christ aspire to that which is better and more elevated, with the goal of their existence to be raised to a level of perfection that allows them to return to live in the presence of Heavenly Father, he taught.

Bishop Caussé also reminded listeners that great growth often comes while facing difficult, if not impossible, situations. “The acute awareness that we have of our own limitations pushes us to humbly seek the help of our Creator.”

4. Qualify to receive the grace of the Savior

“The power that allows us to raise ourselves above our mortal condition and our human abilities is called the grace of the Savior,” said Bishop Caussé.

Grace is one of the gifts of God made possible through the Atonement of Christ.

“This power of grace is of divine origin and is real and tangible,” he said. “Each one of us can access it on condition of receiving the ordinances of the gospel. As is said in the sacrament prayer, one of the promises made to all those who persevere in respecting these ordinances is ‘that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.’”