Do You Focus On Your Strengths Or Weaknesses?

Do You Focus On Your Strengths Or Weaknesses?

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

My wife, my parents, and I took a personality test tonight just for kicks. It was a simplified test, nothing too in-depth, but was very entertaining and insightful. There were two sections to the test: one with a row of strengths under four different personalities and another with a row of weaknesses for those same personality types. 

For all of us, it took quite a while to complete the strengths sections; it took probably less than a minute to complete the weaknesses section. It’s a lot easier to readily admit and focus on our flaws and faults than it is to honestly acknowledge our strengths. 

Maybe it’s because we’re hesitant to praise ourselves (this isn’t always a bad thing, but we tend to overdo it). Maybe it’s because it’s easier to see our glaring weaknesses than our helpful strengths. Weaknesses usually sound something like, “I am… ” or, “I have…” or, “I can’t…” or, “I’m not…” followed by a negative attribute. 

Focusing on our weaknesses is detrimental for two primary reasons. 

First, focusing on weakness restricts growth. Even when pointing out some major issues with the church at Philippi, Paul lays on the praise heavily before exposing flaws. When he wrote to Timothy to rebuke him (II Timothy) he made sure to point out his strengths, too. We have to be balanced as we look to improve ourselves. We can acknowledge the presence of a weakness, but focusing on it will likely destroy any effort we make to grow past it. 

Secondly, focusing on our weaknesses can be selfish. We can place a disproportionate emphasis on ourselves when we criticize self or lean on weakness as a crutch/excuse. It can also be selfish because while we’re overanalyzing and criticizing ourselves, we can easily overlook growth opportunities. 

Strengths allow us to do for others. Focusing on what we can do and we are good at doing empowers us to help others. Obsessing over our weaknesses can make us too internally focused; capitalizing on our strong points allows us to focus more on other people. 

When we do a mental self-checkup to see where we can improve, let’s focus more on how we can use our strengths to help others and less on how flawed we are. Of course we’re flawed – but we can also do a lot of good for others and we have the blood of Jesus to keep us pure (I John 1.7). As a wise man once told me, “If you focus on your strengths, your weaknesses will take care of themselves.” 

nine_temperaments

How Will We Be Remembered?

How Will We Be Remembered?

Neal Pollard

Seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Each remembered for an overall characteristic. The same is true for individual Bible characters, isn’t it? Most remember Moses, Samson, David, Jeroboam, Jonah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Judas, Peter, Paul, and John for a particular attribute, whatever else could describe their lives. That’s more than fascinating. It’s sobering.

What about you and me? Is there a word others–those we attend school with, work with, live near, attend church with, or share family ties with–would use to describe us? Here are some possibilities:

  • Grumpy
  • Disagreeable
  • Dishonest
  • Hot-tempered
  • Unreliable
  • Divisive
  • Worldly
  • Gossiping
  • Selfish

Such attributes are the cumulative result of the attitude, words, and actions that we portray each day we live. Everybody has good days and bad days. But, there is an overall tenor and flavor to our lives that cause people to associate something with us. However, the word might be different:

  • Gentle
  • Patient
  • Loving
  • Kind
  • Serving
  • Sacrificial
  • Unselfish
  • Humble
  • Uniting
  • Faithful
  • Courageous

That, too, is being built moment by moment, day by day.

With both groups of words, we can think of people who epitomize characteristic above. But I want to know, “Which one would best describe me?” Don’t you want to know that about you?  The good news, if you don’t like the answer there’s time to change that. Dickens’ Christmastime novel about Ebenezer Scrooge is written to make that very point. Infinitely more importantly, the Bible is written to make that point. We can be transformed through the influence of Christ in our hearts and lives (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18). How will you be remembered? 

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