My husband would be the first to say that one of my weaknesses is handling finances. So, he finds it quite humorous that for the past six years I’ve managed to be in charge of the cheerleading finances at our local high school. For lack of a better reason, I do it because no one else volunteered to. Am I good at it? Well, I’ve learned to manage. Do I enjoy it? Not really, but I somehow can’t squirm my way out of the job. Does it come naturally? Ummm, no. But I’ve learned just enough to keep the books balanced and clean.
Somehow, outsiders think I can do the job and I’m good at it because nothing major has gone wrong. But it’s a weakness for sure—something I do because I feel like I have to, not because I want to. And after much coaxing from my husband, I retired the job at the end of the school year. I’ll still stay involved in the cheer program, but doing what I’m good at—communicating information to parents, mentoring the coach, and being team mom for the girls. Those are all areas of strength for me, and after six years, I’m finally ready to publicly admit that finances have never been my thing.
Author Marcus Buckingham says this about weaknesses, “Like enemies, weaknesses are more dangerous when they are quietly corrupting your work and life.” In Step 4 of the book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Buckingham uses several steps to help you cut out the weaknesses that bog you down so your strengths will have more room to grow and work.
It’s a SIGN
Just as you can use SIGNs to help you recognize your strengths, this acronym can also help you recognize your weaknesses:
- S is for Success (or rather, lack of it) – An activity that you haven’t really had much success in or an activity that makes you feel weak is a clue that it’s a weakness in your life.
- I is for Lack of Instinct – Your weaknesses have a “no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get excited about it” quality to them.
- G is for Lack of Growth – A weakness makes you irritable and is hard to concentrate on; just about anything can pull your attention away from the activity.
- N is for Lack of Needs – An activity that leaves you feeling void and less like yourself is probably a weakness.
Even after you’ve identified your weaknesses, that “should” word can creep in and lay on the guilt of continuing to do something that isn’t causing you to thrive. We feel guilt for stopping an activity, that no one will pick up the slack, that we should be well-rounded and do things we aren’t good at, or we just plain don’t know how to stop doing that which we shouldn’t be doing. Buckingham walks readers through a four-step process to STOP their weaknesses so they can be productive and successful within areas of their strengths. Here’s a review:
- S is for Stop: Stop doing the activity.
- T is for Team Up: Partner with others who are strengthened by this activity.
- O is for Offer Up: Offer to use one of your strengths and steer your job toward it.
- P is for Perceive: Look at your weakness from a different perspective.
Think On This
Why can it be difficult to give up your weaknesses? How does the church sometimes encourage us to serve in areas of weakness rather than strength? What do you need to stop “should-ing” so you can thrive?