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.” 

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Be Patient!

Be Patient!

Neal Pollard

In James 5:7, James gives us some specific instructions concerning being patient. It is said as a response to those whose patience was being inflamed by the sinful actions of those in James 5:1-6. In just a few words, James has some pretty exhaustive instruction.

He addresses the who—“Be patient brethren.” There’s an ethic and morality expected of those in God’s family that is more than for everyone else.  Almost every use of the word “brethren” in the New Testament is addressed to Christians. As light-shiners and salt-spreaders, we must exhibit patience with others and especially other Christians.

He addresses the when—This command has a duration (an expiration date)—“Until the coming of the Lord.” How long are we to remember Christ in the Lord’s Supper? 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “Until He comes.” How long was Thyatira to hold onto what they had? Revelation 2:25 says, “Until Jesus would come.” How long was Corinth to refrain from unrighteously judging one another? 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, “Until the Lord comes. You don’t encounter this phrase very often, but every time it regards a matter of significance.  There will not come a point in time when you can cease being patient—it’s as long as you live or until Christ comes again, whichever comes first.

He addresses the howYou’ve got to strengthen your heart (be inwardly committed, cause to be more firm in attitude or belief).  James is saying, “Steel yourself because this is going to get hard sometimes.” When I think of people who have fallen away from the Lord, I think of conversations with people who say they gave up on the church or the elders or the preacher. They weren’t responsive enough, caring enough, or too nosy or not what they needed when they needed it.  But ultimately this means these fallen ones weren’t firm and unchanging within.

He addresses the why“The coming of the Lord is near.” Don’t focus on a time element here, but on the need to endure for as long as the time is. It’s constantly drawing nearer, not in a chronological sense, but an expectation and assurance that we expect it any time. I don’t want to be caught living in a state of impatience with my brethren. If I am, it means I’ve lost focus on Christ’s second coming!

I need to be convicted that impatience is not “no big deal.” James ties it to spiritual harmony, divine superintendence, and eternal safety. We can’t chalk up failure in this area as just our makeup, personality, and temperament. We must be obedient to the heavenly injunction and “be patient”!

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