I have been reading through the Bible at a really quick pace (10-20 chapters a day) trying to get a 30,000 foot of Scripture rather than controlled, 3,000 foot view. If you have never done something like that before, I would highly recommend it–especially if you have not read the entire Bible all the way through. You begin to notice patterns and similarities you would not have seen otherwise. One of which, for me, was in the letters of Paul.
Paul talks in multiple letters about his weakness versus Christ’s strengths. In one instance he lists of a pedigree that is the equivalent of Harvard-educated, young professional who has a family empire waiting on him to take the reigns, yet in another instance he reveals a thorn in his flesh causing a devastating weakness. Throughout it all, Paul points back to Christ’s strengths. He does not boast in his own accomplishments or strengths. He boasts in the grace, love, and mercy of Jesus Christ.
To read this parallel as I was going through the Strengths Finder questionnaire and book really had me thinking through how my strengths would line up with my conviction to preach. After my results, to be honest, I was a little disappointed.
If you have not read the summaries of my top five strengths–relator, strategic, belief, learner, achiever–I would encourage you to read my previous post, otherwise this might not make too much sense.
Strengths Finder splits up the strengths into four major categories: Executing, Relationship Building, Influencing, and Strategic Thinking. The strengths are grouped together with other strengths that seem to have a similar theme running through them. If you look at the breakdown of my strengths, I am spread out mostly in the Executing and Strategic Thinking sections–aside from the one loner in Relationship Building section, which happens to be my top strength.
The lone area I do not have any strengths is the Influencing category. If you look at the strengths that make up this category–and read their descriptions–there is a clear correlation to jobs that are communication heavy. For someone who wants to be a professional communicator, more specifically a pastor, for the rest of his life, I feel like these are important strengths to possess. I have to say, I was disheartened after seeing this chart.
I am not naive enough to think that just because a personality test says you do not have this strength or that strength that you cannot succeed in one area or another, but I do know that some things do come naturally to people who are wired certain ways. Some people are wired to speak in front of large crowds; some people are wired to persuade the hearts of others. Some people are wired to think through every possibility that might arise; some people are wired to find the common ground and connect with others. We are all wired uniquely for the opportunities God has given us. But, if you are like me, I wish I was wired differently sometimes, not too much, but just a few things. I would want to have better communication skills and a better ability to help others understand connections. But, no matter how much I pray, wish, or want something else, the truth is: that is not who I am.
It never will be.
God has wired me a certain way for a specific purpose. I have to learn to capitalize on strengths and gifts that He has given me because He knows better what the plan for my life looks like than I do. I have to learn to be content with who I am rather than jealous of who others are. We are all created by God with the ability to do certain things with excellence. We cannot be so focused on what we want to become great at one day and neglect what we are gifted at doing in the moment.
If you spend your time putting yourself in situations where you are feeling like you are contributing your strengths the best, not only do you feel more fulfilled but God is most glorified because you are being a good steward of what He has entrusted to you.
But, as we all know, life is not always that smooth all the time. Many times we are placed in situations where our strengths are not quite enough. We seem to come up short or are not qualified enough to be in the position we are–yet we are in them. We are not prepared because it seems like our strengths have failed us.
What Strengths Finder helped me realize is, yes, I have strengths and I should prioritize to use them as much as possible, but my God is not limited by a personality test and puts me in situations that I cannot survive solely on my own abilities so I am forced to rely on His strength.
All throughout the second letter to the Corinthians Paul boasts not in his fleshly accomplishments–although he had every reason to do so. He boasted in his weaknesses so that Christ might be glorified in them. Paul understood that humility is laying aside what you are gifted at and understanding what is more important is where God bridges the gap between your failures and His plan.
While I wish for the opportunity to rewire myself with the abilities that would make me a better communicator, I would not even come close to jumping at the option if it meant the Holy Spirit would be cut out of the equation. I have realized that God has given me a longing and desire to communicate, teach, and preach not to glorify myself, but that in my weakness the Holy Spirit might strengthen me to glorify the Son.
Strengths are valuable resource to know for team-building purposes and understanding the dynamics of how people interact, but weaknesses are the most important because we know how to pick each other up and allow the Holy Spirit to shine in and through us.
While Strengths Finder tells me my top five strengths are Relator, Strategic, Belief, Learner, and Achiever, I propose my biggest strengths are my weaknesses, because in those, Christ is most glorified.