What’s your weakness? Seriously, whenever you’re reading this, take a minute and think about it. What is the thing that you *know* you need to do better at? Is it procrastination? Is it acting first and asking questions later? Is it opening your mouth too often or always keeping quiet for fear of rocking the boat? I know you have at least one; we all do! I would also say most of us are self-aware enough to realize what our main weaknesses are, especially the more we spend time in the revealing mirror of the Word.
When we come face-to-face with these weaknesses, it can be incredibly tempting to put all our focus on them to try and make them disappear or improve immediately. We think this will solve all of our hang-ups and roadblocks.
“If I could just do better at being a more big picture person instead of such a short-term thinker, I could be more valuable…”
“If only I could get myself to do big, exciting projects. I’m just not a visionary…”
Then we run as fast as we can, try to work harder, read more books, change our habits and our hobbies to try and squeeze ourselves into being a totally different person.
Sometimes those changes can work. We can teach ourselves to talk more respectfully, to wake up earlier, to look people in the eyes, to say no to brownies, etc. But there are some shortcomings that are tied to our personality, a personality that God gave us. It would be foolish to devote so much time trying to work against those tendencies. Instead, we have to allow God access to those weaknesses. They can even become our strengths. In fact, I would even be so bold as to say that God delights in it.
Jacob was shrewd, you could even call him conniving. He weaseled his way into the birthright blessing and was hated for it. Yet later, God changes his name to Israel and prevails mightily through Jacob and his lineage.
Peter was impulsive. He spoke out of turn and was rebuked by Jesus Himself. During Jesus’ arrest, he cut off one of the soldiers’ ears in defiance. And yet, on the day of Pentecost, there was Peter. He preached a powerful message of repentance that added thousands to the church.
I have heard often, “If you want to be mediocre, focus on your weaknesses. If you want to be great, focus on your strengths.”
If you develop the strengths God has given you, you will rise to greatness. Because along the way, God will give you wisdom and insight on how to overcome those handicaps. He’ll show you in the Word and through other people in your life. He’ll also reveal the root causes of why you do what you do. Sometimes that’s all you need.
“How do I know what my strengths are?”
That’s a great question! One way to find out is to ask people closest to you; a spouse, a parent, a mentor in the church.
Another way that is even more insightful is what’s called the “Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment” that you can purchase online or coupled with the book, StrengthsFinder 2.0.
We all took this assessment as a leadership team and were shocked by some of the results. People have been after me all my life to “FINISH WHAT YOU START!!!” (And they’re right, follow-through is important) but you know what one of my top strengths is? Activator. Essentially that means I’m really good at getting things started. I can take what you’re talking about and turn it into action. I can motivate a crowd, throw passion behind whoever’s leading and champion their cause. Put me at the beginning of your project. If you ask me to track the budget for your long term project, you done messed up. There won’t be a budget, everything will be on fire and we’ll be in jail for accidental embezzlement.
Sort of kidding. But my point is, if I struggle my whole life to become someone who’s good with numbers and who studiously tracks data, I’m going to be miserable and not very good at it. But if I throw my focus and my effort on getting the ball rolling, turning thoughts into action, I can be very effective and valuable to a team of others. My strength may complement their wise planning and academic strengths and vice versa.
This doesn’t mean I can avoid long term projects forever. Marriage is kind of a long term project. I work a job that requires long term tracking. I have to use wisdom to find different ways of doing things that will keep me from getting off track. We used to track a lot of things on paper, but the problem was, if it was on paper then I would just put it in a drawer and forget about it. Out of sight, out of mind. It would never get done. So I figured out how to categorize things on my computer that would show up every week, send reminders, and keep notes on my desktop to remind me. Boom! Improvement.
You have strengths too! Find what they are and run, baby, run!
There are few things more exciting to experience than knowing you're doing what God made you - you specifically - to do.
Know your weaknesses and use wisdom.
God says, “...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”