A couple of years ago, each of us here on staff at West Hills Church took an assessment called the Clifton Strength Finder. It was a strengths anatomical study for each of us. What are our strengths and how should we nurture them to get the most out of us for the good of the whole church? It was fascinating. There are 34 core strengths that are measured, but the free report gives you your top five.
Here are mine:
- Empathy: People strong in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
- Input: People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
- Adaptability: People strong in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.
- Connectedness: People strong 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.
- Intellection: People strong in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by them and I wasn’t. (Well, that’s not entirely true. Intellection implies thinking and I have always been proud of my Myers Briggs thinking score of zero. 🙂 )I was surprised to see how closely they describe who I think I am and how I think I work. It was no revelation to anyone that empathy was number one on my list, because my heart is worn on my sleeve and it bleeds so easily for others.
But when I saw them all together like that it kind of blew my mind. I think it gives me a better understanding of why I want to go out into God’s big world and see how this creation works and how all of us are needed to fulfull his big picture. It explained why I am always reading, watching the news, caring for the world and the others in it besides me, try to be a peacemaker and understand others and that I think about all of it all the time. It doesn’t give me answers, but it makes me ask questions. It explains why I love to be in the middle of a choir!
Each of these items has a longer explanation and today for many reasons, I was thinking about connectedness:
Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. Some may call it the collective unconscious. Others may label it spirit or life force. But whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it. This feeling of connectedness implies certain responsibilities. If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves. We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves. Your awareness of these responsibilities creates your value system. You are considerate, caring and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life’s mysteries.
I think my favorite part of this description is that my faith informs this strength and I am grateful that I have a faith that would lead me in this direction. There are scriptures that I can draw on to underscore this strength:
- “…we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it.” – The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)
- “…we are part of something larger.” – All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (I Corinthians 12:27)
- “…we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves.” – Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
My prayer for this day is that this strength – connectedness – which each of us contains to some degree, would overflow in our hearts and minds in ways that we could see the other and know we are less than we can be without them in our lives. Each of us is part of the whole, and the whole is not complete with missing connections.
(Strength definitions are quoted from “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” by Marcus Buckinham & Donald O. Clifton, copyright 2001 by The Gallup Organization.)