Monday, March 30, 2009

Strengths Finder 2.0 Test Results

A while back, a friend and fellow Destiny Project journeywoman pointed me to the Strengths Finder 2.0 test. I've taken the personality type test a couple of times, just for fun, so I was intrigued to hear about Strengths Finder.

Strengths Finder results lists a person's top five strengths. These are mine.

Shared Theme Description - People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

Personalized Strengths Insights - Instintively, you may convince certain people that a particular project or cause improves humankind's quality of life. Occasionally you persuade them of the importance of protecting the planet's resources for future generations. Perhaps you help people realize they can accomplish more good as a group than as individuals. Driven by your talents, you often are the one who helps people understand how they're linked across time, distance, race, ethnicity, religion, economic levels, languages, or cultures. You make it possible for individuals to work together. You aim to break down barriers that separate them. It's very likely that you are often instrumental in helping your teammates discover how they are linked to one another. You regularly remind them that their successes and failures are a direct result of their ability to work together. Because of your strengths, you may bring a more optimistic perspective to life thansome people do. Why? You somehow feel linked to other members of the human family. By nature, you naturally build bonds that unite different types of people who have separate and often clashing agendas. Your appreciation of everyone's uniqueness frees you to help individuals direct most of their attention to what they have in common.

Shared Theme Description - People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

Personalized Strengths Insights - Because of your strengths, you may be happier with your life when you pause to savor your accomplishments at the moment they occur. Immediately celebrating a success sometimes means more to you than waiting days, weeks, or even months for a formal awards celebration. Driven by your talents, you may feel particularly proud of your ability to routinely produce the right outcomes. You might become a bit more optimistic with each success. It's very likely that you might be talkative in certain social situations. Perhaps you enjoy circulating from group to group. You may feel good about life when people appreciate your unreserved, gregarious, and friendly nature. By nature, you may feel better about life when you can outline all the steps of a task, procedure, or event. Perhaps some people appreciate your organized and methodical work style. Instinctively, you inspire your teammates with words that bolster their confidence. You repeatedly remind them they have the abilities to attain their goals.

Shared Theme Description - People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.

Personalized Strengths Insights - Chances are good that you refuse to be blinded by others' enthusiasm about what is possible. You are hardwired to isolate the issues that lie ahead. Working with overly optimistic people is difficult for you. You have seen them accidentally derail more than one promising project or unwittingly sabotage more than one inventive, yet undeveloped, idea. Instinctively, you probably collect books, publications, correspondence, or public records. You seek to fully understand the fundamentals of the causes you support. You yearn to know about the circumstances that can enhance or erode your quality of life. When you feel strongly about something, you gather as much information as you possibly can. Then you pore over these materials -- that is, read them very carefully. Driven by your talents, you may be attracted to individuals whose honesty and integrity are above reproach. Perhaps you seek to penalize people who betray trust by taking things without permission. Because of your strengths, you have clearly defined principles that set the tone for your life and influence your behavior. They reflect who and what is important to you. They guide your decision-making. As a result, the people with whom you live, work and study can usually predict what you will say or do. By nature, you employ your passion for reading to collect lots of good ideas for resolving issues, fixing mistakes, or overcoming obstacles. The act of reading allows you to generate options for dealing with all sorts of predicaments -- that is, difficult, perplexing, or trying situations.

Shared Theme Description - People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Personalized Strengths Insights - Because of your strengths, you may feel wonderful when people value your innovative ideas. Perhaps you help them envision what can be accomplished in the coming months, years, or decades. By nature, you may be viewed by some people as an innovative and original thinker. Perhaps your ability to generate options causes others to see there is more than one way to attain an objective. Now and then, you help certain individuals select the best alternative after having weighed the pros and cons in light of prevailing circumstances or available resources. It is very likely that you may pay attention to some of the things going on around you. Perhaps you listen, quiz people, read, or take notes. As you accumulate information, you might disregard what is unrelated, and pay heed to what seems important. Sometimes, the more you reflect on what you know, certain problems reveal themselves, and eventually some solutions start taking place in your mind. Then you try to select the best plan from your list of options. Driven by your talents, you might have a knack for identifying problems. You might generate alternatives for solving them. Sometimes you consider the pros and cons of each option. Perhaps you factor into your thinking prevailing circumstances or available resources. Maybe you feel life is good when you think you may be choosing the best course of action. Chances are good you recognize recurring sequences in data, events, information, or people's comments. These insights might enable you to form links between things that others cannot.

Shared Theme Description - People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfactioni in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Personalized Strengths Insights - Because of your strengths, you consistently measure up to your high expectations when working, studying, or playing. Instinctively, you may be regarded by some individuals as a fine trainer, tutor, or instructor. Occasionally you describe yourself in these terms. By nature, you might make certain types of difficult-to-understand ideas a little bit easier for people to comprehend. Driven by your talents, you routinely give your team everything you possibly can in terms of your talent, skill, energy, knowledge, or time. As a result, you probably have little left to offer people outside the workplace or study group. Chances are good that you may have friends who come to you for guidance, suggestions, or recommendations. Topics might include situations in their personal or professional lives.

I must say, I definitely recognize myself in much of what is described in the Strengths Finder results.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Growing Up

You're a spiritual teenager...


You're about 15 years old...

What? I am??

Michelle, it's okay.



Okay. Cool!

I had that conversation with the Lord about a year ago. I had been asking Him what was wrong with me for some time before He finally answered. As surprised as I was by His reply to my persistent questions, my heart was lightened by what He said. I heard laughter in my heavenly Father's voice as He spoke, and His delight warmed me.

Technically, if we count spiritual growth in terms of chronological years, I'm a little over 20-years old. I was born again in July of 1988, at the age of 22. Five months later, I was filled by the the Spirit. What I didn't know at the time was that spiritually I was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), and that I'd be spending quite some time there.

My background is one of occult involvement, and I had a lot that I needed to unload. As a new Christ-follower, I heard about demonic oppression but it didn't really mean anything to me because I was coming to Christianity with no frame of reference.

When asked about my salvation experience, I usually tell people I was born bassackwards - feet first. I didn't understand about sin or the need for redemption. I didn't understand anything about the Cross, or salvation, or any of the things that I came to understand and appreciate as my relationship with the Lord deepened. All I understood was that God is a Person who loves me, sees me, and wants to be known by me.

This understanding, about the personhood of God, and the love that He has for me, was utterly new. It was such a novel idea that my heart was captured. The rest of me was clueless, which shouldn't have been too surprising because I was reborn with what was tantamount to a spiritual infection.

This spiritual infection was due to the fact that I had grown up in the occult, even though the "church" in which I was primarily raised had the word "Christian" in its name. I've come to see that it wasn't Christian. Not truly. It couldn't be since, by definition, to be Christian means to accept Jesus the Christ as exactly who He claims to be - Lord, Savior, GOD. The Unity Church of Practical Christianity, in which I spent most of my formative years, denies the truth of Jesus. It's a hodge-podge of all sorts of eastern mysticism, reincarnation, spirit guides, ESP, witchcraft, and assorted other occultic practices. Nothing we were taught indicated the unique and divine Personhood of God. Factor in the reality that, as a young teenager, I actively pursued witchcraft and the power it promised and it should be no surprise that I had a lot of darkness in my soul.

So, as a newly born again Christ follower, I was spiritually infected by the malevolent forces that I had embraced while growing up. Light and darkness cannot dwell together and, though I was newly born again, those things which had taken taken hold of my sould did not automatically go away when I said "yes" to Jesus.

Paul told the Philippian church that they were to work out their salvation in "fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12) When we come to Jesus, we're still lugging our baggage with us. I had to take ownership of my baggage before I could dump it. It had become a nasty, oozing infection that required medical intervention before it could be drained and cleansed. In other words, I needed deliverance.

Deliverance is messy, like draining a pus-filled wound. It's bloody. It hurts. But there is no shame in needing deliverance.

Consider this: In the book of Exodus, God showed the Promised Land to Israel and told the people to go take it. He told them that His angel would go with them to defeat all of those who stood in the way of the Israelites entering into the Promsied Land and making it their own.

"I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land." (Exodus 23:29-30)

I had to be ready to go through deliverance before it would genuinely benefit me. That's what I mean by saying I was in the NICU. I didn't truly start growing spiritually until the infection of my soul had been drained and cleansed, then it took time to walk out the healing process.

While I might want to leap from childhood to adulthood, and most children do want to grow up quickly, it's not good for me to do so. If you think about it, trying to be more grownup than we actually are is counterproductive to becoming a mature believer. Whenever we try to run before we have learned to walk, we spend a lot of time falling down. We get hurt when we try to take on more than we're mature enough to handle, and those wounds can hobble us if they're not properly tended. That's one of the ways people get stuck in their spiritual growth.

It doesn't help us when we find ourselves battling expectations that are placed on us about who we're supposed to be or how grownup we're supposed to be - whether those expectations are ours, our spiritual parents', fellow believers' or the church's. The Lord is the only Person whose say matters. We have to be willing to genuinely hear His voice, and do what He says, even if it is counterintuitive to what we think we're supposed to do. For me, it meant the NICU and deliverance and healing my inner land.

God took the time He needed, kept me in the spiritual NICU, until I was able to start growing in a healthy way so I could become fruitful and possess my inner land as He promised I would.

It has been a process, a battle and an adventure.

The enemy of our souls comes to kill, steal and destroy. There is nothing more threatening to him than a mature Christ-follower who fruitfully walks in wisdom and power. It's in his interests to keep us blindly stuck somewhere on the road to maturity. If he can hobble us then he can keep one more soldier of Christ out of commission.

We are to "...grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ..." (Ephesians 4:15).

So, last year the Lord told me that I was a spiritual teenager. Hearing that set me free and explained the frustration I'd been feeling. I was given hope, because it meant I was still growing up. I hadn't gotten stuck.

I am still growing up. Jesus isn't going to leave me as a teenager any more than He left me in the NICU. He started a good work in me and He'll finish what He started (Phil 1:6), while I have the pleasure of holding His hand and walking with Him.

What the Lord has done for me, He will do for you. That's His plan: For us all to grow into gloriously mature, wise Christ-followers who are joyfully and freely living and being who He intends us to be.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stepping Into A Spacious Place

For the past month, I've been walking through a process to discover the person I was born to be. This process has a name, The Destiny Project. I'm only about halfway through but what I've experienced thus far has been amazing.

My personal history isn't one where I received a lot in the way of nurturing and encouragement. As I've learned, I am not alone in this. There are a lot of others out there who, like me, have based our identities on our perceptions of others' perceptions of us. We let the world at large tell us who we are and who we are supposed to be.

As I've discovered, there is only one Person who has the right to define me, and that person is God. Who He says I am, who He made me to be, is what counts. And He wants me to come to Him with my identity questions. His love for me is so deep and full and limitless that He is willing to patiently woo me until I do turn to Him.

Getting to the place where I was willing to step out, turn to Him, and allow Him to connect me with others who can journey with me was a years long process. But get me there He did, and I am in awe of what He is revealing.

The person I've spent the majority of my life believing to be the "real" me is very different from who God says I am. I am just now beginning to see the glory He placed in me when He envisioned my life, before I was even born.

I was created in His image. So were you. That means there is a glory there, a beauty there, a power there, a life there waiting to be unleashed. I thought I already knew that, but I now know that I didn't really understand what it meant.

I've spent the past several years in a cocoon being formed into something. I've been very comfortable in that safe, warm cocoon. Safe and warm is a nice place to be, and most of us don't want to leave there. Until recently, I would have been perfectly content to stay safely cocooned in comfort and security.

This morning the Lord told me, "It's time." The cocoon is beginning to open. I've just crossed the borders into a place that is spacious and unexplored, filled with dancing light which invites me to embrace and absorb its life.

It is time, and I've accepted the invitation to steep myself in life.

I don't know the particulars of who I will be, or what my life will look like, after I've climbed out of that cocoon. I don't need to. I will find out after I've gotten there. I'll be able to look back and see far more clearly than I can when I now try to look forward.

One thing of which I am absolutely certain - it will be very, very good.

(The Destiny Project is designed for women. For more information, go to The BraveHeart Intensive is designed for men. For more information, go to