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I’ve been on a journey these last few months to really embrace and step out into the life of adventure God has for me. I’ve become more of a goal-setter, but always seeking His will when making these goals. His glory and a life of vitality are my constant pursuits.
Some fabulous resources have come my way in this journey, many of which I will be sharing with you soon because they are too good to keep to myself. One such resource was mentioned by person after person, in several books and blog posts I read, and I finally had to break down and get it for myself.
That book was StrengthsFinder 2.0.
I like to take free personality tests and such online, so I balked a little at paying for a book and test that would probably tell me more of what I already knew about myself, but I finally caved. You have to buy the book to get your special code to take the test – I have to admit that is kind of top-secret and fun.
I read the intro of the book and was quickly inspired by the words I was reading. Tom Rath points out that so many of the learning and development programs we encounter are based on pinpointing our weaknesses and trying to improve in those areas. When you think about this, there is SO much truth there. And I’ve generally seen that as a good thing – trying to get better at the things I’m not so good at – but not after reading this book.
When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, extraordinary room for growth exists.
Putting most of our energy into what we’re already good at? I’ve had a basic understanding of what I’m “good at” for a while, but this understanding was just surface level. In this culture, we want to fix our weaknesses more than we want to make our strengths stronger. And those strengths end up being under-utilized.
Our natural talents and passions – the things we truly love to do – last for a lifetime. But all too often, our talents go untapped.
After reading quotes like this…
Across the board, having the opportunity to develop our strengths is more important to our success than our role, our title, or even our pay.
…my desire to know more about my strengths, or natural talents, grew quickly, so I tucked myself away at a coffee shop on my “writing night” and took the test. And as I read the results thirty minutes later, I cried.
No, I wasn’t disappointed with what I was reading. I was overwhelmed. These test results – extremely accurate results – felt in that moment like a little note from God saying, “I created you exactly as I wanted, with these beautiful gifts with which to love me and love others. Stop focusing on what you lack and use these talents to change the world around you.”
Yep, I was welling up, dabbing tears at the little coffee shop table, realizing how little we love the good things about ourselves. I’m not talking about anything we can see, but about who we are. I think so much about how I wish I wasn’t so absent-minded or selfish or messy. I don’t like it when I’m reminded of my tendency toward laziness or my inability to finish projects on time. Our culture of “self-improvement” has probably made us dislike ourselves more than anything else.
I had a similar emotional reaction last week when, as part of an “assignment” from one of the great resources I mentioned before, I had to ask several people close to me what I do well. As they texted me back, I almost wanted to stop reading because I found myself not believing what they had to say. “They have to say nice things because they are my friends and family,” I told myself. But when two or more people start pointing out the same things they see as strengths in you, it’s hard to push that away. And I cried on my bed in that moment as well…lots of good tears.
Romans 12:3-8 lays out so well what God intends for the gifts He places inside of us:
Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
This whole process of discovering of my strengths is not about puffing up my ego, but an honest evaluation must include good with the bad. If I were to continue to only focus on my deficits, I would never get to what He lays out next – using my gifts, natural talents, strengths for the body of Christ.
And as Rath points out in StrengthsFinder 2.0…
We’ve discovered that the most successful people start with dominant talent – and then add skills, knowledge, and practice to the mix.
Success looks different for everyone, but for me it is a life that points to Christ and exudes love. And I’m going to start focusing on and using my dominant talents with that success in mind.
I’m not going to go into detail with my StrengthsFinder 2.0 results because I just got them and I’m a newbie to all of this, but I will tell you what my Top 5 strengths were:
I’m sure this is not the last you’ll hear from me on this topic! And if you’ve taken it, I would love to hear what your Top 5 are as well!
So let’s talk about this… when was the last time you really thought about or focused on your strengths? Is it easier for you to focus on your talents or your weaknesses? If you can’t think of any natural talents, ask some friends and/or family to help you get started!
I had a similar reaction when I saw my results and when people specifically tell me what they see. I think it’s because it’s true, and I know it…and I am finally believing it and not running away. Our God likes to give good gifts to his children…even gifts that are our strengths and skills to serve him and others. So glad you found this resource! I am a little obsessed with it lately. My top 5 are: Harmony, Connectedness, Belief, Individualization, Relator
I’ve been a little obsessed lately too! 🙂 And wow Libby, you have connectedness AND belief! That is really interesting!
This makes so much sense. All too often I focus on the things I want to fix about myself and not about what I’m good at. Honestly focusing on the negative brings me down. If what I’m good at makes up the foundation of me, it makes sense to strengthen that before working on other areas. I would like to look into funding my strengths. I don’t really know what gifts God has given me. I would love to discover them. Thanks for the encouragement and motivation!
What a great point…and one we should especially remember every January (and Monday…and…)! I also wanted to tell you…my church staff takes this assessment, and when we took it last year our pastor mentioned how rare – and valuable – woo is!!
What a positive way to see ourselves! I love the concept of this book, but I love your post about your experience even more. What amazing revelations. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for this beautiful testimony. It reminds us why we at Gallup do what we do every day. Many people have found a connection between their religion and Strengths. We actually wrote a book specifically for use in churches called “Living your Strengths.” If you email me your mailing address, I’d be happy to send you a copy.
It sounds like you might have a calling to be a coach. If so, I’m happy to help you do that. Otherwise, if you want to learn how to really develop your natural gifts, you may consider finding yourself a coach here: https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/Coach/Index. You’ll see that a couple of our certified Strengths coaches work mostly with Christian organizations to help people discover fulfill their God-given talents.
Thank you again for writing such a touching piece. I was extremely moved, and would be honored to help you continue your personal Strengths journey.
Okay, we are definitely gonna have to talk about this! I just recently took the strengths finder too! Val took it for a college class like 4 years ago, and several other friends have taken it since then, so we have talked about it a lot! Very interesting to see things identified that you sorta already knew about yourself and others, but at the same time did not recognize as top strengths at the core of who they are.
Mine are: Empathy, Developer, Connectedness, Intellection, and Adaptability.
Les and I took this test when we lived in AL and I had the same response as you—WOW! THIS is what God made me to do!
I got “relator” instead of “woo” which means when I walk into a room, I look for the people I already know so I can relate to them and make a stronger/deeper relationship with them. This was SUCH a relief as half my job then was to walk around church and talk to people I did NOT know–which stressed me out! To find out that I’m more of a people builder than a people wooer freed me up from guilt about not doing my job right. (Probably also led to us leaving that job!)
I can’t remember all my other strengths, tho’. Maybe I should take it again.
ps–Is “input” about wanting to give input into everything? Like being a problem-solver? I think I’m that one, too.
pps–every time I leave a comment I get an error code from CommentLuv. Is it just me?
Input was about collecting information and always wanting to know more! This was my favorite line from that one: “Making discoveries that can help others brings you much joy.” YES!
And I love the fine distinctions they provide – woo and relator could be seen as the same thing, but they are really not!
That is weird about the error code! Your initial comment came through just fine, but I’m seeing that CommentLuv is not showing your latest post! Thanks for letting me know so I can try to figure out what is wrong!
I love this. When I took mine I felt like I really needed to know who I was. I think that it is spot-on. I am.. 1. Input 2. Connectedness 3. Restorative 4. Harmony 5. Belief.
I bought this book about a year ago and my strengths are spot on. I found it on my bookshelf this past weekend and reviewed again. I still think the strengths are accurate.
My strengths are Input, Empathy, Deliberative, Restorative, Connectedness.
AAMEN ! Love the article. Good word. <3 <3 <3
I work at a college with a leadership development program, and I use Strengths Finder with my students. It is transformational! When I took it, it was transformational for me – that’s why I’m the way I am. As a Christian, it is amazing to see how God designed me so uniquely…the probability of someone else having the same top 5 strengths in the same order as me is 1 in 33 million. Amazing. Discovering and utilizing your strengths make such a difference in daily life; it’s wonderful to see students grasp this in college. It’s such a gift to partner with them.
I would second the comment about the book “Living Your Strengths” – it is an excellent book to do in small group format.
Thanks for this great post; I believe in the power of Strengths and speak in “Strengths language” constantly. I just cannot help it!
Achiever, Responsibility, Discipline, Relator, Belief