The more we mature and develop and come into the purposes of God for our lives, the more we must focus upon our strengths as opposed to our weaknesses. There comes a time when we need to let go of our weaknesses and make investment where we already have strengths. We must continue to calibrate the core. If we have weaknesses in our core (our spiritual life, our relationships, etc.) we have to lift those weaknesses, but in our mission the more we mature, the more we narrow our focus into our strengths.
In this episode David and Donna talk about getting into our zone. Continue reading for the episode notes.
Focus on Your Strength Zone
In the Bible, in the Old Testament, in The Book of Jonah relates the story of the prophet Jonah and the big fish. This is an iconic Bible story. The Book of Jonah is a short book with one simple lesson, obedience and surrender to the compassionate plan of God.
God called Jonah to preach repentance to the people of Ninevah. Jonah did not want to call the people of Ninevah to repentance because he wanted them to be lost, he wanted them to perish. He knew if they repented and turned to God that they would be saved from destruction. In short, he hated the Ninevites and he did not want to give them an opportunity to know God.
It is an odd story from which much could be drawn. Jonah tried to run from God by hopping on a ship and going far away, but God caused a great storm and Jonah was thrown overboard. A great fish swallowed him and spit him out. Because of his great ordeal he eventually relented, went to Ninevah, brought the Word of God to them, and the entire city repented and turned to God.
The character in this story we want to focus upon, however, is not Jonah or the Ninevites, but an insignificant player in this story. After Ninevah repented Jonah sulked. He went and made a shelter. God caused a plant to grow to give Jonah shade and the shade made Jonah glad. Then God appointed a worm to destroy the plant so that it withered and left Jonah in the sun, which irritated Jonah further. God’s point to Jonah was that Jonah mourned the loss of the plant, but he was not concerned for a city of 120,000 people because of cultural and racial differences.
Everyone who has grown up in Sunday School and church has heard this story many times. It is full of pertinent lessons. As I was reading it on my most recent pass through the Bible, I was captivated by a small detail. The worm that destroyed the plant. Jonah 4.7 (ESV) says, “But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered.”
God Appointed a Worm
God appointed a worm. To “appoint” is to name or assign to a position. God assigned a worm to a position, to a particular task. With a bit of tongue in cheek we could say that if God could use a worm he could surely use us! We could assume a posture of humility with the realization that our appointments simply fall into a list that includes worms and donkeys. This could have application on so many levels, but I was prompted to consider a few specific things. [11:53]
- The worm was appointed to utilize its already acquired skill set.
- The worm was appointed to a position that utilized and considered its creative design.
- The worm’s purpose was fulfilled within the parameters of its natural skill set.
In other words, God appointed the worm to do what worms do. To the worm, it was all in a day’s work. It is just that in God’s plan this was a specific day and the plant targeted was a specific plant and the timing was exact. The worm had no awareness of its mission. God’s intent was to make Jonah uncomfortable to hopefully calibrate his perspective, but the worm was just obliviously doing what a worm does.
Sometimes, if not usually, the greatest contributions we make to life and the kingdom are through the day to day preparations, being in the place God put us ready to go with the right skills at the right time, and just doing faithfully what we do day in and day out. [13:25]
Was this worm born for the task or was its day simply redirected? Did God just commission the nearest worm for the task? Was there something special about this particular worm? Probably not. We may be born for the task God intended, we may simply be the one willing to do what must be done, or we may have been formed in our mother’s womb with a specific task in mind. What do I believe? I believe any or all of these possibilities are true.
Keep doing what you do. Do it every day. Be consistent. Get out of bed every morning and live your life. [14:16]
[shareable]Keep doing what you do. Do it every day. Be consistent. Get out of bed every morning and live your life.[/shareable]
Life is not about something you are going to do some day. Life is about what you do today. You cannot possibly see or know the grand plan. Oh yes, you see part of it, you often have a sense of where you fit in to the grand plan, but most of the time, your contributions are significant in ways you cannot even know.
And what of the “bad” things that happen in your life? The people you lose, the hardships you face, the times when a rogue worm eats your plant? We keep living and trusting and doing what we do. We make adjustments according to the lessons we learn and we keep living and trusting. [15:02]
I am a planner. I used to have a 20 year plan, now I’m not sure I have a 20 minute plan. I am slowly learning that life is getting up every day, loving the blessings we are given, and doing what our hands are divinely directed to do. We are informed by the foundation of the past, we keep an eye on preparation for the future, but we live today.
Strength Based Leadership [17:22]
The more our lives develop and we come into the purposes of God for our lives the more we must focus upon our strengths. There comes a time when we need to let our weaknesses go and make an investment where we already have strengths.
We must continue to calibrate the core. If we have weaknesses in our core (our spiritual life, our relationships, etc.) we have to lift those weaknesses, but in our mission the older we get the more we need to narrow into our strengths.
Here are three books I’ve found helpful on the topic of strength based leadership:
Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham
Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham
Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Wrath
The worm worked out of its strength.The worm did not try to play the guitar and be a worship leader, the worm just ate the plant and crawled away.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12.9-10 ESV
Think of this in the context of this worm. That worm was not mighty or powerful or skilled beyond its strength, yet it was used in its zone.
Calibration Points… Calibrating Your Life and Lifting Those You Love and Lead [23:48]
What is your greatest strength? How do you or could you operate in that strength every day
Do you know your zone? Where and how can you have the greatest impact in the here and now?
What are your skill sets, what can you do with your hands? How does your brain work? What are your relational strengths?
What weaknesses do you need to let go? What weaknesses must you shore up?
The good news is, we can do a lot more than a worm. We are gifted in a myriad of ways.
When we forsake the strengths we have because we want to be something or someone different, or when we defer living, leading, and loving to another day, we will miss the greatness of life that is actually found every single day.