Strengthen Your Strengths
By Ron Marsh
Isn't it ironic that when men and women hear the call of God on their lives to enter the ministry, it is most often a very specific call—undoubtedly rooted in their unique design and purpose or destiny in life? Yet as they answer that call, they most usually are led to seminary, where their focus is often blurred with the wide range of scholarly material they are expected to master. Then they either take a staff position in a church, or the pastorate of a small church as they are exposed to the realities of ministry in the church today. Or maybe they take a cross-cultural position with a foreign mission organization. All of which carry a number of tasks, duties, responsibilities, and expectations, which further dilute or blur their initial focus. Then we wonder, write articles and books about, the increasing level of dissatisfaction and burnout that we see so rampant in the ministry ranks today.
A couple of years ago, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton wrote a best-selling business classic entitled Now, Discover Your Strengths based on a Gallup study of over two million people. In that book, which we heartily recommend, the authors contend, "Most organizations [including faith-based organizations] are built on two flawed assumptions about people: (1) Each person can learn to be competent in almost anything, and (2) Each person's greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of greatest weakness." When you think about it—isn't that the very foundation of our present day educational system?
The question that needs to be addressed is, when God formed us, gave us our gifts, skills, and abilities, ostensibly for a rather specific purpose or calling, was it part of the plan that we should strengthen all our weaknesses, in a vain effort to achieve a higher level of mediocrity? Or was the plan that we strengthen and leverage our strengths so that we could excel, rise above, break through, make contribution to our fellow man, leave a legacy, etc.?
One of the keys to being able to focus on your strengths is the ability and willingness to delegate. That's what our coaching tool is all about this month. How do you decide which of the many things that are clamoring for your time you should focus on? Even when you find that answer, from a practical point of view it is not always easy to hand off some of your tasks to others. It is still very important to know which items are the most important and which you should give your greatest attention to.
This Prioritization Tool can be the start of a more concerted and informed decision to focus on your strengths. Here is an area where a coach can help you work through your options.