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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!