Knowing Your Strengths

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Perhaps it’s backlash against two generations of “self-esteem” emphasis that remains popular despite having been proven to accomplish little beyond generating attitudes of entitlement. Many Christian spokespeople are calling for a recovery of one-on-one confession, increased acknowledgement of sin as sin, and commitment to recognizing where we as individuals are most frequently led into temptation.

I recognize the value of these disciplines (and will talk about them in more detail next week), but for those of us whose weak spots include chronic perfectionism, often the last thing we need is to look even closer at our imperfections. Rather than being spurred to turn to God in confession, we’re tempted to withdraw from Him even further, assuming He wouldn’t want anything to do with losers like us.

Besides, every fault is simply a misuse of a good gift from God: the devil can only corrupt, not create. So it pays to keep aware of our natural strengths (and our spiritual gifts) as well as our natural weaknesses.

Here’s how:

Consider What You Enjoy Doing

The idea that God disapproves of our taking pleasure in our activities is completely fallacious. He certainly disapproves of our making idols of our pleasures (which can happen with wholesome-in-themselves activities as much as sinful ones), but He Who “richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” can hardly be accused of labeling enjoyment a vice. Chances are your greatest personal strengths are tied to your favorite creative and productive activities; consider how you might channel those activities into service for God and others.

Consider What Others Compliment You For

I don’t mean “compliment you” in the sense of constant “I know we can count on you” requests; that’s the sort of thing that drives people to burnout trying to keep up with others’ expectations. Instead, think about where you hear spontaneous “Great job!” or “Beautiful!” remarks from others, especially over work you genuinely enjoyed doing. When your strong points center on things you enjoy, things you have experience with, and things others already appreciate in you, that’s a surefire recipe for success in God’s service.

Make a Regular Habit of Thanking God For Your Strengths

The main reason recognizing our personal strengths gets a bad reputation among Christians: human nature, in believers hardly less than unbelievers, has a tendency to forget Who gave those strengths and fall into “I have achieved this with my own strength and energy” pride. Not only does this accomplish little of eternal value, it robs us of deeper joy and security from using our gifts in awareness of the Giver.

Conversely, many people forget to rejoice in their strengths at all. Whatever they do, they do under the shadow of worry it won’t be “good enough”; however admirable the finished product, it never meets their standards. They make themselves miserable, and they imply that God made a mistake in not making them more “perfect.”

The best way to avoid both extremes is to thank God daily for the work He gives you to do and the power He gives you to do it–and for trusting you to serve Him, however imperfectly, in ways He can use for great purposes.

In the Source of all strength, we can accomplish more than we imagine, in ways we may not yet see. And we can discover that one purpose of the strengths God gives us is to increase our own joy!


COMING SOON! My e-book, 100 Ways to Live as an Optimist in a Pessimistic World, will be available this spring. Sign up for updates and get in on the best offers!

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1 Comment

  1. Jo Swank

     /  February 15, 2019

    Amen! ❤️


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  • A blog for naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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    I am the go-to writer for people with tough stress issues and special emotional needs—and for those who love them, organizations that serve them, and anyone who just wants to better understand the world of mental/emotional struggles. Or who just wants to pick up some good stress-management tips! Visit my main website at

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