Knowing Your Strengths (when everything changes)

Much like a athletes on a team, each person should know and use their strengths for the benefit of others.

Much like a athletes on a team, each person should know and use their strengths for the benefit of others.

Those of you in the business world or members of Grace Church are probably very familiar with Strengths Finder. I was first introduced to Strengths Finder as an intern at Grace Church in the Summer of 2010. The basic premise is that you should, as much as possible, operate out of your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Rather than focus on improving your weaknesses, the majority of your energy should be spent on maximizing your strengths.

As an athlete, this concept makes so much sense to me. We first learn the “basics” of a sport with everyone playing lots of positions. Then, as the work and skills required become more difficult, we specialize and maximize the specific talents of each individual on the team. Henry Ford’s assembly line manufacturing also took advantage of this principle. Still, it wasn’t until I was almost finished with college that I learned to think about it in terms of my personal and professional life.

I recently took the Strengths Finder test again for work and I was surprised to find 4/5 of my strengths have changed, probably reflective of my seasons of life. I’ve listed my strengths below. Learner was the only crossover (duh, I’m a nerd no matter the situation), but it moved from first to third.

2010 Strengths:

Learner
Achiever
Individualization
Developer
Discipline

2015 Strengths:

Strategic
Relator
Learner
Analytical
Command

Last week, we asked all of the Mill Community Ministry interns to take the test and then we shared our results with the group. We defined strengths as something when you do it, you feel strong. You may be good at it, but if it drains you and makes you weak then it may not be a strength.

Joey Espinosa led our conversation and we talked about how our strengths are to be used first for God’s glory and purposes and second to serve others. When we are aware of our strengths we can actively seek out ways to use them for God’s glory and others’ benefit while also finding people whose strengths match our weaknesses. Together, we are a complex masterpiece reflecting God’s image on humanity.

So what do we do when the game changes? We’re no longer a baseball player, but a soccer player. (You know I’m refraining from making a snide soccer>baseball comment!). Our previous strengths may not be as applicable or we may need other strengths. The risk of knowing too much though, is that we can use our strengths (or lack thereof) as an excuse. It’s not in my gifting, we say. I’m not called to do that; it’s not how God made me. Yet sometimes, we must serve and work outside our strengths knowing God is most present in our weaknesses.

For me, in my new job, this has included thinking a lot about the best way to grow Nasha Lending. The main part of my job is working with entrepreneurs to help them start their businesses, including connecting them to resources (personal and financial). Perhaps this is why strategic and relator are now busting through the top.

Now, more than ever, I’m thankful I have clarity about my strengths, community to bolster my weaknesses, and grace to cover all. After all, my greatest strengths are often also my greatest weaknesses.

My Summer(s) as a Kairos Intern

Do you ever have the urge to do something, but you don’t know why? You are compelled to act, but it doesn’t make sense; not necessarily because what you are doing is wrong, but just makes no sense.

Fall 2010 I was studying abroad in Spain and applied for an internship at a local church. *sidenote* I NEVER wanted to work at a church. In fact, I specifically did not want to work at a church. So, why I applied for an internship at a church I attended, but wasn’t too familiar with is beyond me.

To make a long story short, it was one of the best decisions of my life. I met one of my best friends, my mental conception of God was challenged – probably for the first time in my life, and I became part of a community that has been invaluable to me over the past few years.

Why am I reminiscing about this now, you ask? Well, 20+ interns are about to descend on Grace again this summer and it brings me back to my first summer as an awkward intern (see the above video), naively fumbling through life. I am really excited for each of them, but especially the 4 with whom I will be working most closely. I hope they are challenged and find community like I did. I would not trade my summers at Grace (or my job now, for that matter) for any amount of money in the world.

Hey Mom and Dad, aren’t you glad I didn’t listen to you and get a “real job” that first summer? 🙂