Acknowledge weaknesses, Build on strengths, Confess mistakes

No ice cream + wifi at Dairy Queen. Trumped it with local flavor, after hearing an Austinite talk about Amy’s Ice Cream. Went to its Arboretum location, and got a cup of Mexican Vanilla with a chunk-in of cookie dough. Most of Amy’s other locations has wireless Internet.

This just dawned on me about personality and assessment tests. Lots of those tests point to a person’s preferences and tendencies; they describe how a person does things and perceive things. And what I love about the StrengthsFinder profile, one of the more recent iterations of assessment tests, is that it describes what a person does best (mine are: ideation, input, strategic, adaptability, woo). Knowing what a person can do well naturally is much more helpful than knowing a person’s natural style.

I’ve always been cautious about not boasting of myself, very aware of my own weaknesses and inferiorities; I’ve never been driven for things like success or excellence or accomplishments or goals. Stereotypically, many people grasp for power and money, name and fame. None of the above entice nor motivate me. And verses like “boasting in my weaknesses” and “God’s power being manifested through my weaknesses” reinforced my thinking, and that in effect has “held myself back.”

I’m reading Tom Paterson’s Living the Life You Were Meant to Live. And these words grabbed my attention:

Your potential for excellence lies within your uniqueness. When I facilitate the discovery of a LifePlan for a person, I always give the person permission to explore fully what he or she can do well. The emphasis is never on what a person cannot do. I never address “weaknesses.” You contribute through your gifts. This should be your focus. God doesn’t give you weaknesses. In a real sense, they are a manmade, destructive myth. (p.12)

How does that fit with those Bible verses that ring in my head: boast in my weaknesses, coming in weakness without eloquence of speech, God’s power is made perfect in weakness, et al? The Bible does say that God gave gifts to men (mankind). And, God is not the source of evil, and perhaps, also, not the source of weakness. Our being human means we’re finite and limited, and weakness is the absence of strength, in certain areas. And to rethink those weakness verses, maybe it is to recognize that we, in our humanity and finiteness, that God can still work in and through us. We don’t boast in God’s gifts to us, but we can use them, and develop them, as stewards of those gifts, and offer them to the glory of God.

And then, (hat tip: Alex McManus) just found out about Chip Anderson‘s book, StrengthsQuest: Discover and Develop Your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond. I heard Chip speak of his aliveness theory several years back, and how every person has a metaphorical bucket, that’s been damaged over the years, as if with leaking holes. And if that person can find healing and grace, those holes are covered, and the bucket fills with aliveness, then a person has something to pour out, to offer, to share life. If the holes remain, the person will likely put other stuff in the bucket and make noise, clanging around. Brilliant insights.

And just Goggled for his name, thinking I had blogged about this before, and didn’t find my previous entry. But, I did find a series of great articles by Chip Anderson, on the Theology of Strengths: Dr. Anderson’s Summary, Christian Concerns, Dr. Anderson’s Conclusion, Foundation for a Theology of Strengths.

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