Developer

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”–2 Tim. 2:2

I’ve always enjoyed teaching.  It feels good to know that someone else can now succeed where they couldn’t before because of what you gave them.  I see the real, true potential in people, and I rejoice with each step of progress they take(whether I was a part of it or not).  Of all my top 5 strengths, I believe that this is one of the most important of them all.

I think it’s good to realize, this world is much bigger than you and I.  What we accomplish only really makes a difference if others can take it and run with it.  If we can give them the opportunity, then why not?  Are we really so selfish as to keep all our knowledge to ourselves?  Not me.  One day I’ll be dead, and if no one learned from my life, well then what was the point?

But it’s not really about my life.  It’s about the lives of others.  Can we enrich them?  Can we love them enough to tell them the truth?  Can we be be wise enough to give good advice, to lead them to God?  I hope so.  I hope that every person I meet will be better when they leave.  It’s the least I can do, for Jesus said to love one another as He has loved us.  Jesus is the one who created our giftings, our strengths.  He’s given them to us for a reason: to love.  And love is not selfish.  Love means relationship.  He loves me.  I, therefore, will love others.

“…Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”–1 Corinthians 8:1

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Input

“The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”–Eden Phillpotts

Life is interesting, and it’s full of interesting things: facts, theories, ideas, tools, music, dirt, beauty.  We can all use some of it, real life.  We can all enjoy the benefits, reap the rewards and learn from the mistakes.  What we have learned, the experiences we have experienced, all work together to shape both who we are now and what our future will hold.

What are you learning?  What kind of people do you surround yourself with?  What are you putting into that amazing framework of nerves called your brain?  And is it helping or hurting your soul?  It’s important to know these things, because we can so easily be deceived into patterns of worthlessness.  You stop thinking for a minute, and then it’s four years later, and you’ve accomplished nothing.  I strongly believe we’re all here for a good reason; are you, right now, becoming the man you were created to be?

If you are a Christian, how much time do you spend in prayer each day?  How often do you read the Bible?  Do you let the Holy Spirit teach you?  God is the greatest teacher in the history of the universe.  If we’re not learning from Him, then what is the point of anything else?  I need great relationships, books, tools and knowledge, but without God, I am nothing.

“I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.”–Psalm 119:99

Connectedness

“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.”

Of all my five StrengthsFinder themes, this is the one that seems to me to be the foundation of all the others.  I believe very strongly that we are all connected somehow.  And, you know what?  God created it that way for a reason.  When Cain asked God in Genesis 4:9, “Am I my brother’s keeper,” the answer was a definite yes.

What we do affects everything else on the planet in at least some small way.  Did you ever see the movie The Butterfly Effect?  Yeah, it’s like that.  So, consequently, everyone is important.  Everyone should be loved, even if they don’t deserve it.  Seriously, if God can still love us in all our sin, the least we can do is forgive and show mercy to others.

God has a greater purpose for this world, and we each have a part of it.  Every prayer can shift the heavens.  Every act of kindness done can save lives.  Every word of truth spoken can pierce the darkness in hearts.  You and I matter!  And we will probably never know how much we really do.  So, I’m going to do my best to make this world a better place.  I hope you do the same.

Although, some things are impossible to do on our own.  In fact, some things are still impossible even if every human on earth were united in it.  But with God, all things are possible.  We must ultimately stay connected with Him if we are to be truly useful.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”–John 15:5

Includer

“I wanna take your Word and shine it all around, but first, help me just to live it, Lord.  And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown, for my reward is giving glory to you.”–Keith Green

At first glance, some might think that I’m kind of a loner.  I am pretty shy and quiet most of the time, definitely not outspoken by any means.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t value good groups of people.  In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Includer is actually my second-greatest talent according to the StrengthsFinder test.  I see the goodness in groups, the benefits that we can all give to each other.  And the more people the better.  One of the saddest things in the world to me is seeing someone on the outside, excluding themselves because of some silly predisposition, judgement or small hurt from the past.  Together, we are stronger.  We can do greater things.

You know, Jesus accepted all kinds of people.  The religious ones were the exclusive, elite group.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be like Jesus.  He loved everyone.  I have this heart, to see others come to know that love as well.  That’s what evangelism means to me.  It’s an acceptance, a conversation, a demonstration of that Love, an invitation to a better way, the best way: to be a part of the family of God.

I’m really glad I have this talent.  It really is who I am at heart, but I still need to develop this one so much.  I need to find new ways of expressing this side of my personality.  It’s exciting, having an evangelistic heart.  And now that I know I have one, I see the responsibility set before me.  I must love as He does.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”–Matthew 19:14

Adaptability

READY:  Ready for anything!  Ready to work, play, serve, obey, worship, live, etcetera.”  That’s the Royal Ranger motto.  I guess, growing up, I really took it to heart.  Adaptability turned out to be my strongest theme, according to my StrengthsFinder Profile.  And here’s the reason why: life is crazy.  You never know what’s going to hit next.  I don’t care where I am or what I’m doing; if something unexpected happens, I need to be ready and willing to change plans at a moment’s notice.

Of course, not everything unexpected is good, but if I can’t deal with the bad quickly and efficiently, it could be worse.  I used to think of myself as a pessimist, always expecting the worst from life.  It works, you know.  You’re never really surprised by anything bad.  The surprises are the good things, and the fact that you’re surprised by them makes them seem extra good.  The problem with pessimism was that I wasn’t really happy ever, so I kind of shifted my mindset to more of a realist.  Good things happen; bad things happen; it’s life, so deal with it as it comes.

And that’s about where I am today, although I think now I have a much more positive view of reality than most.  While it’s true that horrible things happen, God is love.  Even if I’m grinding it out in the pit of despair, even if I die in it, I’ll be with Him.  I have enough faith to know that no matter what happens along the way, no matter what changes are made to my plans, God is there, and He’s watching over me always.  I can’t be trapped in any sort of box I’ve created for myself, because God’s plans are so much bigger than anything I could ever imagine.  If I’m not open to anything, I’ll miss out on some serious blessings He has in store for me.  In every crazy, random situation, I look for the good part, because God created the good in me.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”–Romans 8:28

Strengths

In honor of my new Reading List page(see the Pages column on the right), I want to talk a little about a book I read last summer.  It’s come up in conversation with various people recently, so I started thinking about it again.  The name of the book is Now, Discover Your Strengths, and it’s by a couple guys named Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.

Anyway, based on a ton of research, The Gallop Organization came up with 34 different positive personality themes.  Here are some examples: Achiever, Empathy, Focus, Learner, Belief and Command.  There are a lot more.  They also devised a test to discover which of these strengths you possess the most, your top 5.  That’s what the book is about.  You can take the test, read the book and find out a little more about yourself and the others around your business who also took the test.

Here are my top 5 themes, according to the StrengthsFinder test:
1. Adaptability
2. Includer
3. Connectedness
4. Input
5. Developer

I plan on doing a mini blog series, one post for each of these themes.  I’ll talk about how I value each strength, and how I’ve seen it play out practically in my life.  In case you’re wondering, I highly recommend this book.  It’s really interesting.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”–1 Peter 4:10-11