I enjoy taking personality profiles and strength assessments. I find that they reenergize and refocus me. They clarify for me the things that I should invest my energy in, and they help me say no to other things. This is quick post to introduce you to a new book and to highlight a helpful point that brings some clarity to pursuing your personal uniqueness while fulfilling Jesus’ call to die to self.
I recently read Stand Out: Find Your Edge, Win at Work by Marcus Buckingham. Buckingham became well known in the business community with the publication of his book Now, Discover Your Strengths and the accompanying StrengthsFinder assessment. His goal in that work was to help people find out what they are good at and learn to operate in those areas of strength. Instead of fighting to overcome your weaknesses (which you will always struggle to do), you should focus on developing your strengths. His main idea is that you will work harder at things you do well than at things you do poorly.
Buckingham describes StandOut in this 2 minute video.
His new book extends that focus by helping you figure out how to put your strengths to work. It includes an access code to the online StandOut Strengths Assessment. The Assessment reveals your “strengthsroles” – the roles where you can best leverage your strengths for impact. He offers the following nine strengths roles:
For example, my results showed that I am a Connector – Pioneer. That means that I’m good at launching things. I love to imagine a better world and get a group of gifted people together to try and do something to make a difference. While I’m struggling a bit to understand how it connects with my creative endeavors, I think that the description is about right. These things happen naturally for me, and I find myself doing this visioning/connecting/engaging work in whatever group I’m working in.
If you are new to assessments, this isn’t a bad place to start. If you’ve taken multiple assessments, StandOut will help refresh or refine your understanding of who God made you to be. Nothing radical or revolutionary here, but a helpful tool to put in your toolbox.
I sometimes hear Christians shun personality or strengths tests because they feel they focus too much on us and our happiness. While I understand what they are getting at, I think that they are missing the point. Buckingham makes a statement in the book that I think is important for us to consider:
To be truly your best, it isn’t sufficient merely to understand that you’re unique or even to understand what makes you unique. Sustained success come only when you take what’s unique about you and figure out how to make it useful… Your strengths, in essence, are value neutral. They can be put to good use, or they can…be put to bad use.
I think this statement points us in the right direction. Our uniqueness is undeniable. I think we know this practically, but I think it’s true biblically as well. The God who fit us together in the womb, who ordained our arrival in this world, who meticulously counts the numbers of our brown, blond or greying hairs, who gives us gifts and talents, who redeems our hurts and brokenness, who calls us friends certainly knows that I am not exactly like you. We are each one of us unique.
Spiritually-minded leaders will recognize that our uniqueness can be used for our personal glory or for God’s glory. When Jesus calls us to die to self, he’s not saying “stop being who you were created to be.” He’s saying something more like “Stop using who you are for selfish purposes and learn to use who you are for kingdom purposes.” This is the redemptive and transformative work of the gospel in us. We are saved from our self-focused life and saved for a God-directed life.
One of the guiding rules of my life is the belief that our deep and forever joy comes from leveraging all of who we are to honor God and extend his glory in the world. Because of this, I enjoy learning from all kind of resources that help me to develop as a person and as a leader. StandOut is another resource to help me along that path.
Do you know your greatest gifts, strengths, and roles? How has this knowledge helped you be more effective?