The book StrengthsFinder 2.0 is the bestselling business book of all time. Over twenty million people have taken this assessment. Nearly all Fortune 500 companies utilize this in some form.
Last year the name of this assessment was changed from StrengthsFinder to CliftonStrengths to honor the founder Don Clifton and to better distinguish it from other assessments.
In truth, StrengthsFinders was misnamed from the start as the assessment identifies talents not strengths. Gallup defines a Strength as, “the ability to consistently provide near perfect performance in a specific activity.” Strengths do NOT have a dark side, shadow side or weakness. But talents do.
The talents the Lord gives are all about potential. They are precursors to strengths. For a talent to become a strength you need to add knowledge, skills and experience. Talents need to be developed. Ongoing intentionality is required for this to occur.
We are told in James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” God only gives gifts that are good. But His gifts can be used in ways that are not good. Sex is an excellent example of this. When used within the boundaries the Lord’s laid, the ability to engage in intercourse is a powerful, beautiful, life-giving gift. But when used outside those boundaries, sex quickly becomes anti-relational and destructive.
God’s gifts can also be neglected, going unused. (Matthew 25:14-30). When this occurs their potential for good is also missed.
What does it reveal about the Lord that He has prepared good works in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10) and as He was knitting you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16) He intentionally gave you neurological pathways specifically designed to enable you to do the good He’s planned for you? (Jeremiah 29:11)
What insight do you gain about the Creator who does this uniquely for every single person?
What does it tell you about God that the signature talents He gives are designed to result in joy, a deep sense of satisfaction and the person using them being energized?
We were not fashioned to merely be worker bees. The Lord delights in our well-being! (Psalm 35:27)
But note these outcomes only occur when our gifts are used within the boundaries He’s laid for them.
All 34 talents reflect different aspects of who the Lord is. But only the Lord has each talent in an unlimited amount! He is infinite. We are finite. Because of this we have limits. Learning to live within those limits is key for developing a talent into a strength. Because of wounding, false beliefs and our sin nature, it does not come natural to use our talents in the life-giving way the Lord created them to be utilized.
There’s also the element of time. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us “There is a time for everything. A season for every activity under heaven.” This is true for the gifts the Lord gives, too. A powerful gift used at the wrong time can result in great harm! We are told in Proverbs 25:20, “Singing light songs to the heavyhearted is like pouring salt in their wounds.” MSG. Ouch!
In addition, we have an enemy who knows our talents better than we do. He knows the potential these gifts hold for wrecking havoc on his kingdom so he seeks to do all he can to get us off track in using them.
Because of this, it’s been estimated two-thirds of a person’s weaknesses tend to be their talents misused, overused and underused.
This is why we need to heed the command in Ephesians 6:10 to, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!” To be strong in the Lord, surrender is always necessary. This is not a one time occurrence, but a daily decision of yielding to the all wise, Almighty God so we follow Him and use the gifts He’s given with Him for His glory and our joy!
Wise is the person who takes time in the presence of the Lord to consider each talent, asking:
Am I using this talent in response to the Lord’s leading, when He wants me to, where He wants me to, how He wants me to?
If not, when not, what may be lurking underneath the surface, like a riptide, leading me in a destructive way God doesn’t want me to go?
Are there any false beliefs or wounding needing to be dealt with?
How might my sin nature be factoring into this?
What ways has the enemy been at work attacking the gifts the Lord’s given me seeking to shut them down or lead me to misuse them?
How might my life, and the lives of others around me, be different if I was to surrender this talent to the Lord and be intentional seeking to develop it into a strength?
What do I sense the Lord is saying to me about this talent?
In what ways can I continue to grow this talent?
What am I willing to commit to do?
Is it ever worth the work and time required to do this!
Each of our gifts when used as the Lord intends provides us with opportunity to reflect Him in a way no one else ever has or will.
The saddest part about our dark side? Similar to the moon, the dark side of our talents doesn’t reflect the Son.
But as we do, not only will we discover those boundary lines really have fallen for us in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6), we also have opportunity to hear the Master say as he does in Matthew 25:21, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'”