By Bob Bumgarner
Just because you have experience as a leader doesn’t mean you have learned the benefits of applying your God-given strengths to what you do as a leader.
Your strengths are unique to you. And using your strengths sets you up to make the biggest contribution over the longest period of time in your career or ministry.
As the Gallup Organization has helped us see, a strength is a recurring and God-given way of thinking, feeling , or behaving that can be productively developed and applied in what we do. It also can be described as an activity or set of activities that make you “feel strong” as you do them.
Ironically, a strength may not be something at which you are already competent. But a strength is an area in which you have the most potential for developing sustained excellence over time.
Here are five clues you can use to identify your strengths.
Clue Number 1
Pay attention to yearnings. A yearning is an internal force that attracts you like a magnet to a particular activity or experience again and again. As you think about the things you look forward to, what patterns do you see? In what areas are you naturally curious? To what activities are you naturally drawn?
Clue Number 2
Notice the areas in which you learn rapidly. Strengths tap into your ability to learn quickly or naturally. Your brain seems to switch on at higher levels than normal, and gaining knowledge and skills in this area almost seems intuitive. What activities tap into your ability to learn quickly?
Clue Number 3
Observe what causes time to fly for you. Tapping into your strengths seems to make time pass quickly. When you find an activity that fully engages your mind and imagination it is probably a strength. What activities cause time to fly for you?
Clue Number 4
Note what causes you to feel energized and replenished. When you take on projects and successfully complete them using a strength, it generates feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment. What activities bring you the greatest satisfaction? Which activities energize you?
Clue Number 5
Watch for flashes of personal excellence. When we tap into our strengths, we see glimpses of high performance in the activities we do. In what areas have you or others noticed flashes of excellence in the things you do?
Take these three steps to begin to put your strengths to work for you.
Identify your strengths using the clues provided. Our strengths tend to fall into four broad ministry or work activities.
- Strengths that help people get things started.
- Strengths that empower people to get things accomplished.
- Strengths that equip people to build relationships.
- Strengths that enable people to act strategically.
Evaluate the activities on your calendar in light of your strengths. Which activities on your calendar would allow you to use your strengths this week? Try to apply your strengths in what you do on a daily basis.
Look for ways to develop your strengths every day. You can do this by looking for places where your strengths can be applied in your current role. Our strengths grow as we apply them day-by-day and task-by-task.
For most of us, learning to operate from our strengths requires new levels of self-awareness. It means we have to take Scripture seriously as we re-read Psalm 139:14-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:14-20 and learn to value our uniqueness in the body of Christ. It also means that who we are as specially designed people should be considered in the execution of what we do in our role as leaders.
To lead well, we have to know how God shaped us and how His design sets us up to make our greatest Kingdom contribution. We can all find ways to live to a greater degree through our strengths. What can you do in the next week to put your strengths to work.
Bob Bumgarner is a Gallup Strengths Coach and executive pastor at Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville.