Are you playing to your strengths?

How do you hear from God?

Do you like to take yourself off somewhere quiet, spend time in the word, listen to worship music or maybe you like to spend time in nature as your preferred way to hang out with Papa to hear His voice.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I like to ‘walk and talk’ with God and my Friday’s are very precious because I try and prioritise daddy daughter time with Him to do just this. This last week was no exception!

Before I get to that let me back the train up the track a little, so to speak.

If you have read my previous blog you may be aware that I have been in a season of waiting. I have laid things down that I have loved doing as an act of obedience in response to Him telling me to ‘be still and wait’. As challenging as I have found this I know that it has been the right thing to do as I have found myself with limited capacity in this season, which I hadn’t anticipated, but of course He had (thank goodness).

As we start a new year I have, like most people I’m sure, been reflecting on 2019 and asking God about 2020. For the last few years I have asked God for a word over my year and this year I felt it was focus and clarity. I felt that as I focused on Him I would find things in my life coming into clear view that have been blurry and unclear. I also felt that there would be clarity over hopes, dreams and promises, as He would flesh out the plans He had for me and I would have a clearer understanding about what He had been doing in me through this waiting season.

What’s your focus?
I painted this in worship at Kings Arms Church at the start of the year.

As I have been reflecting during this season, I know I have not always been very patient and at times I have been frustrated with God and if I’m really honest (and what’s the point of writing if i’m not), even doubting His good plans for my life!

The move to Bedford a year ago, was the fulfilment of a God given desire that I never thought was going to happen (for many reasons including my husband being adamant that we wouldn’t, another blog post to come I think). But, He is a good and faithful Father and when we ask for those things that make our heart want to burst He listens to us because He loves us and He is the one who puts the desires in our hearts in the first place.

Matt 7: 9-11“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

So, here I was in Bedford and absolutely ecstatic about arriving in what felt to me like the Promised Land! As I think back to the car journey here on moving day (I drove on my own as Mr B was driving the van), I remember feeling like the seas were parting, as I drove up the motorway, and a way was being made for me just like the Israelites (I’ve always been fairly dramatic).

I arrived all guns blazing and ready to get stuck into church life, when I felt like the rug was being pulled out beneath me. God asked me to be still and wait! So, I put things down and I have been waiting ever since…

Don’t get me wrong, lots of good stuff has happened along the way, in the waiting, but life hasn’t looked like I was expecting it to. But surely it’s all about me and what I want to do God!!!! Well it seems I had been putting the proverbial cart before the horse and expecting to just carry on with the ministry stuff that I love and been ploughing into over the last 5 years, but clearly God had other things for me to learn. Anyone else relate? How easily we map out our lives, telling God what we are doing and then He reminds us who is in control and we have to listen to avoid a making a complete hot mess of our lives.

I think by nature I am a doer and the feeling I have been having in the waiting (the big fat lie that is) is that I was stagnating whilst everyone around me was busy doing ‘the stuff’ (including The Lovely Mr B) but that’s another blog post in itself. How easily we can start relying on our feelings to dictate our circumstances, before we realise that feelings fluctuate like the wind and the only thing we can really rely on is God’s truth, which is and always has been unchanging!

Let me tell you about one of the most helpful things I have learnt in the last year…

It has been finding out what my strengths are (you wondered when I was going to get to the point didn’t you!) At Kings Arms Church I have heard and noticed that people seem to have a good understanding of their strengths and the strengths of the teams they are in and I was hearing words like activator, woo, individualisation and I was intrigued to know what they meant. After all who doesn’t want to know where their strengths lie?

Mr B and I found out the name of the book and the test you can take called, ‘Strength Finders’, a fairly obvious title I suppose and we decided to give it a go and see what was what. We bought a Kindle copy of the book and in it we got a code that you can use to access the on-line test (£15.99). It takes about 30 minutes to complete the test and you get a series of questions and 30 seconds to answer each one. You answer with your preference each time on a sliding scale of strongly agree, strongly disagree or if you don’t have a preference either way you click in the middle, but a word of warning, read the instructions so you know how to answer the question with the 30 seconds you get (just saying, of course I did!)

You then receive an email with a summary of your top 5 strengths and a detailed break down of what they mean. Well all I can say is wow! They really do explain so much about why I do the things I do, think the way I do and react to things the way I do. It’s only taken me about 50 years to find out! You can get your top 10 strengths for a bit more cash and they say that this 10 doesn’t change but the order may switch around a little over your lifetime.

My top 5 are:

1.Connectedness

2. Futuristic

3. Adaptability

4. Positivity

5. Empathy

Strength Finders is composed of 34 strengths altogether and it is absolutely fascinating how they mix. It’s also intriguing finding out your partners strengths as it gives you an insight into their behaviour too!! I know realise why Mr B likes to talk so much-he has something called WOO! (I know right).

As I was heading out one Friday recently I was waiting for a friend to pick me up and i’m going to be honest I would have been happy not to go out at all, but I forced myself out of the house. As I was waiting for her I heard the Father ask, “So if connectedness is one of your strengths why aren’t you connecting with people? There is strength in community. Are you playing to your strengths?”

Gulp! What to say? Yes He had got me again. Well why hadn’t I wanted to connect with people?

In turns out that during this waiting season I had been mistakenly viewing the putting things down as a shrinking back in who I am called to be and letting the naturally supernatural lifestyle I was leading become something I remembered living rather than actually living out in its fullness! I had fallen into a somewhat discouraged place and one of the things I do when I feel like this is hold back from people and this is what I had been doing, thinking that being on my own would be better. In fact it’s a tactic of the enemy to isolate us and make us think we are not worth being around! The things that I once found pleasure and passion in doing I was struggling to get excited about-shocker!!! What had happened to me?

Then this Friday as I was out walking in my happy place by the river, I heard Him ask “Where is your focus on this walk?” I realised as I pondered the question that it was a dreary grey morning and the river to be fair wasn’t looking its best, as the water looked murky and brown. In fact, as I looked around everything looked dull and muddy. It was then I realised that my eye hadn’t been drawn to those things at all, in fact all the way down to the river I had been taking photos of leaves, berries, moss and other pops of colour all around me. My eye was and is, always drawn to colour because I see the beauty in everything and in the darkness I look for the light. I pondered some more and I realised that this is because one of my top 5 strengths is positivity. I just can’t help myself and when I am being fully me I look for the colour everywhere and I bring the colour, but I haven’t been doing that as much as usual as I have allowed myself to become hidden away, just waiting.

But, as I have been reflecting on the questions Papa has asked me, some of the things I have come to realise is that…

Waiting doesn’t mean hiding (although I recognise God sometimes chooses to hide us for a season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be who we were created to be).

It also doesn’t mean to stop being fully yourself.

It doesn’t mean laying aside all that God has put in you, all that you have learnt whilst you wait.

Waiting isn’t passive.

Waiting is a verb.

There is much to learn in a waiting season.

There is still joy to discover in a waiting season, if you play to your strengths and stop shrinking back.

I am still learning and still waiting but, I am refusing to shrink back any further and am going to be fully me in the waiting and continue to be thankful that God has me where He wants me and I am going to FOCUS on Him so that the CLARITY will come. I’m so grateful that we’re in this together and I also have my church family and friends around me who continue to encourage me and be a source of strength and inspiration, calling out my strengths and giftings.

I am going to remember the strengths that I carry and I am going to start playing to them!

Please be encouraged if you too are in a waiting season, knowing that God has got the best plans for your life and He knows what He is doing.

Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Instead of asking God…why am I waiting?

Why not join me and start asking…

What are you teaching me and building in me whilst I’m waiting?

______________________________________________________________________________

Photo cred: Jason Leung


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