Can you identify your strengths? Or, do you spend more time thinking about the areas in which you are not gifted?
Can you identify the strengths of your church? Or, do you spend more time thinking about the faults, shortcomings, and inadequacies of your church?
Can you identify the strengths of the fellowship of churches of which you are a part? Or, do you spend more time focussing on the quirks and the peculiarities of your group?
Far too often we allow weaknesses, faults, and deficiencies to define our story. The headline is centered around negatives.
Think for a moment about what you say about yourself, your congregation, and the larger fellowship of churches of which you are a part.
- Some focus on how they haven’t gotten the breaks they need. Or, they zero in on areas in which they are not particularly gifted.
- Some talk about their congregation by focusing on its quirks or an individual who is getting in the way of progress.
- Some speak about their fellowship by immediately making a few digs at the larger group or a couple of jokes that expose the group’s silliness.
What you allow to become the lead story in your life really does matter. It matters what your story line is going to be.
It is difficult to build a future based on where we are lacking or feel inadequate. It is hard to build a future based only on our ability to express how we are not like others. Yes, it is important to be honest and to describe reality as it is. Focusing on strengths is not about ignoring problems, failures, shortcomings, etc. Rather, focusing on our strengths is a reminder to all that no matter how we might seem to be lacking, we – by the grace of God and his power – really do have something to offer.
It is very important to see how God has given you gifts. You really do have strengths. In fact, individual congregations also have strengths and a history of how God has been at work.
What if I were to focus on my strengths? What if our congregations were to play to their strengths?
Instead of always talking about the faults of my congregation (or the larger fellowship that I am a part of), what if I pointed out the strengths of my congregation? In fact, what if I pointed out the strengths of my fellowship or tribe?
Maybe the best headline focuses on how God has worked in me and how he is working in the church where I am. Maybe I can talk about how he has used certain strengths to work through me and the congregation I serve. Maybe I can see how he has worked through a few strengths of the congregation.
For example, suppose one of the strengths of a congregation is their love for children. Perhaps I can see how God has worked again and again through this church to love children. Maybe these people need to hear how God has worked and is continuing to work through loving children. Maybe God will open new doors to love more children, etc.
Three suggestions for focusing on your strengths:
1. Make note of several of your strengths. Look for feedback from others that reveals a common theme regarding one of your strengths.
2. Make note of several strengths of your congregation. What does your church do well?
3. Make note of several strengths of your fellowship of churches. What does your group do well? If you come to the table for a discussion regarding God, the Bible, Jesus, ministry, etc., what positives can your group contribute to the discussion?
Both my self-talk and my conversations really do matter. What is it that I focus on? What about you?