Thursday, June 17, 2010

leading from your strengths. gift or curse?

What if you are really good at something. You have a passion for it and over time you invest in it. You develop skills and you become good at it.

Really good.

But over time you begin to wonder if there are some potential downsides to your gift.

Some people tell you they could never do what you do. That your gift leaves them feeling somehow inadequate and so they close down.

Still others begin to place you on a pedestal.  In your presence they become less forthcoming with their opinions.

Still others ask what happens when you leave, with the assumption that somehow you are invaluable, that things should continue with, or without you.

Such reactions, observed as I watch people respond to creative people, leave me wondering. What do gifted people do with their strengths? Should Da Vinci have used his gifts less? Or differently? How much of how a creative person is perceived and processed is their responsibility? What is involved in the shift from creative individuals to creative communities?

Posted by steve at 03:55 PM


  1. I am me. And I am called to both follow and lead, to be a disciple and a disciple-maker. God has been forming who I am – it is an on-going work, but it has been on-going for some time. I can only lead out of my strengths and my weaknesses, out of who I am, responding to I AM. As a leader, my strengths and my weaknesses will shape the environment within which the people I lead are led, the people I influence are influenced, the people i nurture are nurtured. They will, to some degree, be formed by and reflect my strengths and my weaknesses; and God has committed himself to work with and through our strengths and weaknesses so that what I bring complements what came before and who is alongside me now, and in turn will be complemented by who comes after me.

    I recently heard this: that true humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.

    It is good for my arms and legs for my heart to be really good at what it does. At one level, there is no-one else on earth who can do what I do, because that is what God has made me for. You will be as inadequate at being me as I will be at being you. That does not make me better than you (pedestal), or you better than me (inadequate). But it does suggest that we need one another.

    So I want to hold out my strengths, and my weaknesses, for God to use to his glory, and in order to help others discover who God has made them to be – expecting that God will use the strengths and the weaknesses of others to help me discover and grow more fully into who I am called to be. It is messy. It is painful. It requires that I both seek and extend forgiveness.

    But to shy back, it seems to me, is not what God is looking for in us (the hinge of Hebrews 10 and 11 comes to mind).

    Comment by Andrew Dowsett — June 17, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

  2. i need a “like” tag for the comment, andrew…

    Comment by lynne — June 17, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

  3. Andrew, your a poet. thankyou.

    you focus most on the person, which is good. i was also trying in the post to process the relationship with the community. i’ve wondered if communities become less creative because of the creativity of 1 really talented person. and i’m trying to work out what that means in terms of community building yet in tension with the charism of that one.

    lynne, thankyou for the “facebook” insertion 🙂

    Comment by steve — June 18, 2010 @ 8:33 am

  4. This is an interesting question, but it might be easier to dwell on it, if you could mention a)the gifting you have in mind and b)what kind of community you are thinking of. (church, class, club?)

    Comment by Ingrid — June 18, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  5. what comes to mind is Mandela’s comment that as people “we don’t fear that we have no (talent or) power but that we have power (and ability) beyond our wildest dreams” It may be that to recognise out gift requires of us a response, to live ethically perhaps even to limiting our selves for the sake of the other. The God who limits his self makes room for the other for the on going fulfilling of creation and relationship. Our gift and talent seems to me to be for the building up of the body of Christ the church so that all may glimpse the coming of the reign of God.

    Comment by Geoff — June 18, 2010 @ 6:31 pm

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