Saturday, June 11, 2011

Be Yourself

“God expects nothing more from you than to live that life for which you were created.  He [sic] wants you to be yourself.”   This is the simple but profound message of Living Your Strengths, a book based on the Clifton StrengthsFinder ® and the research of the Gallup Organization.

I was first introduced to the idea of Strengths Psychology through First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman and Now, Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Donald Clifton (the designer of the inventory).   My attention was focused on the concept once more when I heard Marcus Buckingham speak at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit several years ago and began thinking about this in relation to the church.  Living Your Strengths by Albert Winseman, Donald Clifton, and Curt Liesveld makes the application of the idea directly to the believer and the  life of the church.

The approach is summarized in this way:

“God has created the one and only you, uniquely gifted with undeniable talents that are the foundation for your strengths.  Claim who you are, listen to God, celebrate your talents, begin living through strengths.  And start transforming your life—and the life of your congregation”

Strengths are based on one’s innate talents plus developed skills and acquired knowledge.  Talents are basically God-given; skills can be learned and knowledge obtained.  We are encouraged to embrace the talents that God has given each of us and develop them into strengths by developing appropriate skills and knowledge. 

Using the web-based Clifton StrengthsFinder 1.0 assessment, the reader can discover his or her five “signature themes” out of 34 possibilities and then reflect on how these can be used to maximize one’s engagement in church, work, and family life.    The primary emphasis in this book, however, is on church.  If a person is to be fully engaged in the church and growing in devotion and service, then he or she must embrace and use what God has provided.  This idea is developed further in Winseman’s Growing an Engaged Church.

Although the stories and testimonies included in this “expanded and updated” version tend to encourage investing in the training program offered by the Gallup Organization, the reader will gain significant personal insight by just completing the inventory and reading the book.  In fact, I found it so interesting that I worked through it in an afternoon. 

The philosophy and theology behind a strengths-based approach to leadership and service are sound.  I think you will find applications both to your own life and to that of your church or organization.

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