Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lead from Your Strengths, But . . .

One of the concepts of leadership that I have found helpful in recent years is the idea of leading from your strengths.  This approach is based on that idea that God has gifted each of us in special ways.  Each believer has particular spiritual gifts, skills, backgrounds, and experiences that make that person unique.  Because of this, there are certain things that person can do in the Kingdom of God that others cannot do.

If this is true, why would we want to spend time identifying our weaknesses and trying to improve on them?  No matter how much I work on it, I am not going to be an accomplished musician.  I do not have the temperament or skills and it is a little late in life for me to begin!  This is not meant as an excuse to revel in complacency or irresponsibility; rather, it emphasizes that we can be more productive if we build on what God had already given us.  God has “wired us up” in a particular way, so let’s make the most of it.

This is the basic thesis of Marcus Buckingham, Albert Winseman and others whose research and writing encourages us to identify our strengths and to make the best use of them.  You can find more about this in Living Your Strengths and Now, Discover Your Strengths.  

Although I support this approach, I was reminded that exercising this approach requires a certain amount of wisdom and humility.  Terry Linhart of Bethel Seminary makes this point:  “Your gifting has a shadow where your greatest weakness lives.” When we operate out of our strengths, we need to recognize that in doing so we are leaving some other things undone.  You may be a great people person, but someone has to balance the books, for example.  Or you may like to take care of the “behind the scene” details but someone needs to provide encouragement to the staff.  We need to know where our “blind spots” are.  The danger comes in not recognizing the vacuum that may be left even though you are using your strengths to the greatest advantage.

Certainly this is reminder that we need other people on our team.  They not only keep us sharp, but they can deal with the things that may be left undone otherwise.  Although each part of the Body of Christ is unique, each and every one is necessary for the Body to be whole.

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