In Mark 12:28-31 Jesus tells a scribe that the greatest and first commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” How to love God with all of my strength is perplexing to me. What exactly does it mean? Does it mean loving God with all of my effort, intensity, fervor, or energy? Or, might it mean loving God with all of my physical strength?
The first definition concerns me because it requires too much of my own effort and my energy and fervor for God can ebb and flow. The second definition is problematic because folks like me wouldn’t have much to give God if loving with all our strength meant muscle.
In her book, Christ Centered Coaching, Jane Creswell presents a third alternative…..the possibility the meaning of strength in this verse might include all of our gifts, talents, and personality traits. In short, all of the attributes that you are born with that combine to make each of us unique. I find this is a definition I can get my head around, embrace, and apply.
How Can I Find Out What My Strengths Are?
So, how can you know what your strengths are…..your gifts, talents, abilities, and personality traits? For most of us it takes a variety of inputs over time to explore and discover our strengths. Those include:
Assessments – A primary path of discovering your strengths is through the taking of assessments. Various Personality Profile Assessments such as DiSC, Myers-Briggs, and Keirsey are helpful as well as are Spiritual Gifts Assessments. Gallup’s StrengthsFinders helps identify, in order, your 34 strengths and how to focus in on your top 5.
Coaching – A Christ Centered Professional Coach can help you identify your strengths, leverage them, and orient your life and career around them.
Feedback – Trusted family members, friends, and co-workers can provide you valuable insights by sharing how they perceive your gifts and strengths.
Life Experience – Starting with our earliest schooling and throughout our education and career, we are frequently forced to work outside of our strengths and told to try and improve our weaknesses. We find little time to focus on our build upon our strengths. Taking the time to reflect upon those things we do poorly or with mediocrity, and those things that we do well can help you identify innate strengths.
Documentation – We all know well the overwhelming feeling of working out of your strengths. The Loved It Loathed It Exercise Template will help you document exactly those activities that energize you and those that deplete you. The 80/20 Rule is a good guide. Strive to arrange your work where 80% of your time is spent in doing things that strengthen and energize you and only 20% in activities that weaken or deplete you.
Once you discover your strengths, you will want to determine ongoing ways to build skills on top of those strengths and increasingly orient your ministry around them.
This discovery process towards awareness, understanding, and application of our strengths sounds overwhelming doesn’t it? Yet, Jesus didn’t offer the Great Commandment as a suggestion or recommendation. It’s not a choice or an option. It is a command. But, our attempts to operate in our strengths for God’s glory and purposes is not sufficient or fruitful without a constant connection to him and acknowledging him as the source of our strength.
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Posted on March 26, 2019