Choosing Strength

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Looking around the room, I desperately tried to quell the panic rising up in my throat. There were piles everywhere! I felt so overwhelmed. The truth that had been nudging me for a few days, now pierced through my brain fog with a question, “Katie, how would you tell your interns to view this situation?” I squirmed as the truth confronted me.

Flashing back to this summer I pictured the worksheets and the interns’ faces as we went over Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder philosophy. I’d tell them that with every situation we face, we are given one choice — we choose our perspective. And from our perspective, we have the choice to use our strengths or not.  The Lord has equipped every one of us with strength for the journey that He has us on. Looking around my living room at the disaster that moving was creating, I could choose to operate in perspective that the Lord was with me and had given me the specific strengths I needed to stay sane, or I could give in to discouragement, taking my eyes off of Him and on to my literal mess.

After many years of research, spurred on by the desire to study what was right with people, rather than what was wrong, the Clifton StrengthsFinder Philosophy was born. Tom Rath later compiled it into a book and personality assessment.  Made up of 34 personality “Strengths” also know as “themes”, StrengthsFinder is about discovering what you are good at, and how you can use your natural strengths in every area of your life. A “Strength” is natural talent times investment (the amount of time and the skill with which you use it). Talent x Investment = Strength.

For example, I’m a terrible artist. I can’t draw to save my life. With a lot of practice, I may get a little better, but I will never be a Michaelangelo. No matter how hard I try, I can only get so good at drawing. Now what if I took that same energy and applied it to an area I already had some talent in? The possibilities are endless. The StrengthsFinder assessment focuses on building strengths over correcting weakness. Working only on our weaknesses makes for mediocrity, but focusing on our strengths allows us to function in the gifts the Lord has entrusted to us. From the perspective of strengths, weaknesses are opportunities to be overshadowed by existing Strengths, or areas to facilitate teamwork.

Looking at my living room disaster, I clearly remembered the strengths the Lord gave me. One of my top five Strengths* is “Restorative”:

“People especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.” Tom Rath (StrengthsFinder, p.153)

My personal definition of Restorative is “restoring order to chaos of every kind”. (It’s one of the reasons why I love to wash dishes!)  The Lord equipped me to face that room, reminding me that I even enjoyed problem-solving and that this move could be an adventure that I enjoyed, or a major stress and headache.  The choice was mine: to use or not to use, my strength.

There are many, many reasons why I love the StrengthsFinder personality assessment, but my favorite is the perspective it lends in practical everyday ways. It’s a wonderful tool to help view others (and ourselves!) for who we are, instead of who we aren’t.

Here is what a few of my interns are saying about StrengthsFinder:

It was amazing to see the true strengths that God has given you. They might even surprise you like they did me! It not only helps you figure out the areas in your life to focus on and grow in, but in taking it with others it helps you to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.
-Ainslee L. NY

StrengthsFinder is more then just a “feel good” test. Going into it I was unsure about how legitimate the results would be. Taking the test has seriously been a life changer! It has helped me recognize my strengths as a child of God, but ironically it has also showed me where my weaknesses are too. I have been able to use my strengths to help benefit others and grow more as an individual! It’s a test I DO NOT regret taking.
-Mickayla L. FL

Are you familiar with StrengthsFinder? Or do you have questions about it? Please comment and ask me. My top five strengths are: Individualization, Responsibility, Learner, Belief and Restorative – I’d love to know yours!

Helpful Links:

*The StrengthsFinder assessment gives you your top 5 strengths (out of 34). Most people have at least 10 strong strengths of the 34, if not more. If it sounds like you and isn’t in your top 5, it’s probably in your top 10. (You just have to pay more to see the rest of the results).


  1. Strengths Finder is hands-down my favorite personality assessment. I love how it’s so positive and practical. Mine are: discipline, input, responsibility, intellection, and connectedness.

    1. Yay! I’m so glad that someone was familiar with it! I don’t know if I have ever met someone with Discipline. nice!! – What does that look like in your life? I have Individualization, Responsibility, Learner, Belief, and Restorative. I took the text 3 years ago and had Connectedness and Woo in there as well, so I know they are in my top 10 anyway. 🙂 It was fascinating to compare the results of the test 3 years apart when not much in my situation had changed (i took them both in different classes). The neat part is that the current set reflect my spiritual gifts more, and they went along with a lot of the heart changes the Lord did in the last few years :).

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