God Put Strengths in You

Article by Allie Burkhardt, IPSAT Coach at Bloomingdale Church

Be More of Who You Are 

Tom Rath (author of StrengthsFinder 2.0) writes “You cannot be anything you want to be—but you can be a lot more of who you already are.

Basically, Tom says that it is a waste of time to focus all of your attention on trying to get better at things that you’re naturally not good at (like me if I tried to get really good at basketball – I’m simply too short and not speedy enough), but rather a better use of time to pay attention to what you naturally enjoy and to put your time and energy there (like me spending time roller-blading or going to the gym in order to be active).

This is not to say that we should ignore our weaknesses, and also is not an excuse to be lazy. For every strength, there is a weakness, and it is important to be aware of the basement side of our personalities and manage that side so that we don’t train-wreck relationships and hurt other people at the same time as being aware of the strengths that we naturally bring to our work and relationships.

A Devotional Reflection on Strengths 

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
-Romans 12:3 (NIV)

Thoughts adapted from a book I’ve been readingHow to Lead When You’re Not in Charge” by Clay Scroggins: 

A distorted identity will cause you to think too highly or too lowly of yourself. If you think too lowly of yourself, you’ll think of yourself as unqualified or unworthy for the influence and positions of leadership that God has given you. If you think too highly of yourself, you’ll overestimate your abilities and take credit for the work of others. You’ll hide your mistakes and live in constant fear of being exposed as a fraud. Finding the correct identity is a constant challenge for every person on the planet, but thinking of yourself rightly is what will help you best reflect God in your life. 

When your identity is rooted in something, you are much more likely to live in a place of stability and security.

Spend some time in prayer about this! Ask God to enable you to look at yourself rightly as a result of His Word and your relationship with Him, and also the CliftonStrengths assessment. Pray that God will use the ability to see yourself correctly in order to make His name great. 

My Experience

I took the CliftonStrengths assessment twice: once as a nineteen-year-old Wheaton College student donning a full head of thick, long, and wavy brunette hair, and one year later as a twenty-year-old college drop-out, living on her own, and donning a bald head and recent temporary tattoos of fake eyebrows on her face, attempting to re-engage in academia through a community college class after going through what had been one of the toughest seasons of her life. 

When it comes to psychology, I’m a nerd. I love studying people and learning about the way that they work, so I am naturally intrigued by tests that claim to help put words to how people behave in relationship to their work and the people that they interact with. To my surprise, the second time that I took the CliftonStrengths, all but 1 of my top 5 strengths had changed. At first, I was alarmed. Was I crazy? Is my identity unstable?

No. Research on the CliftonStrengths assessment taught me that the makers of the test have seen that your Top 10 strengths (out of all 34) typically don’t change. However, the research revealed that the makers see it as normal for your Top 10 strengths to shift around (in order of what is most dominant at the time) due to significant life changes. I definitely had experienced some major changes in the year between both times that I took the test! 

The second time that I took the test, my Top 5 strengths were the following: Input, Connectedness, Responsibility, Intellection, Adaptability. I see how these characteristics play out in my life, how they were part of who I was before and after alopecia (hair loss), and I can even name how some of them became more dominant in my life through that challenging time. 

I’m writing this story as a reminder that a test cannot tell you who you are; that is something that only God can do. These tests are simply tools that give you words to help describe what God already put there. And that’s good!

Allie Burkhardt is an IPSAT Coach at Bloomingdale Church. You can find Allie reading a great book, listening to Switchfoot, and leading a team at Chick-fil-A. You can view Allie’s IPSAT result here and email Allie here.