During the 40+ years as a lead pastor, Jimmy McLeod discovered his special abilities in counseling individuals and conducting support groups, later honing those skills by becoming a board certified pastoral counselor. Today, Jimmy counsels individuals, couples, and families full-time at Becomer Counseling Services, and also consults with churches, community groups, and service organizations. The Leading From Your Strengths profile has become an integral part of his counseling process.
His familiarity with the benefits of personality profiles stems back to the early 1980s when a University of North Texas Baptist Student Ministry director used the then-common DISC instrument to profile Jimmy’s church staff. Jimmy saw the value in team members understanding themselves and each other.
He used various profile formats throughout the years, but in 2001 Jimmy was introduced to the Leading From Your Strengths profile at an American Association of Christian Counselors convention. “The LFYS profile intrigued me because of its Christian worldview and its emphasis on strengths,” said Jimmy. “Plus, its basis in 1 Corinthians 12 allows me to come back to scripture again and again as I counsel clients.” He and his wife Carol subsequently became Different by Design certified practitioners.
As Jimmy began to use the LFYS profiles regularly with couples and teams, he noticed their special benefits that endured in various circumstances and over time. “The profiles are an investment in long-term health,” he says.
Benefits for Immediate Circumstances
Jimmy cites the profile’s objectivity that brings a rational voice during crisis or turmoil. Such was the case as he counseled Tony and Emily, whose 15-year-marriage had been wounded by unfaithfulness. Both spouses were biblically committed to restoring the marriage.
The profile data gave Tony and Emily sanity and focus as they worked through the emotions of broken trust. Emily discovered that she moved quickly to assumptions and judgments. She learned to give Tony more time for decisions and responses. Meanwhile, Tony saw his temptation to marinate about a decision forever. He came to appreciate Emily’s quiet prods to think, choose, and move on. The couple has been in counseling six months, but already their communication has better than it has ever been, says Jimmy. Even their four children are noticing changes in the relationship and in family life.
“The profile put the information into a format they could understand,” said Jimmy. “Because the report is objective, it freed Tony and Emily to stop beating themselves up and instead use the information in their immediate circumstances – and move forward into the future.”
Benefits for Ongoing Circumstances
Recently the pastor of a creative, innovative church approached Jimmy. “I want our church to be healthy,” he told Jimmy. “That means our staff needs to be healthy, too.” The pastor opened the door for each staff member to complete the profile and meet with Jimmy at least once – more if they chose to do so.
Several did, including two staff members who struggled with ongoing tension in their working relationship. As they met with Jimmy to review their profile data, both were able to see how their wounds in the workplace came from assumptions about the other person. The information they shared opened their minds to the other person’s strengths. As the two professionals prayed together in a joint session, Jimmy saw their bonds strengthen. “It can only be described as ‘a melting moment,’” Jimmy said.
Benefits for Future Circumstances
During premarital counseling, a 30-something professional couple invested considerable time in coming to understand their personal strengths outlined in their profile reports. “They did the work,” said Jimmy. “They were involved and engaged in getting to know each other better and learning to value the other’s strengths.”
What grew out of during the course of those weeks and months working through the profile was a deep appreciation for one another. The wife-to-be, a quick thinker, came to understand why her fiancé could not make hurried decisions. He needed to process information methodically. While that strength could have become a conflict in their relationship down the road, she began to view his thoughtful, systematic insights as valuable. Meanwhile, her future husband discovered how his fiancée was relationally wired and a perfect fit for his more reserved nature. Jimmy reminded the couple that the profile data was a springboard – one they could build upon throughout their marriage.
“God confirmed to this couple that He had brought them together to complete each other,” said Jimmy. “By the time their wedding day arrived, they were pumped. They were ready to use the tools they had learned to keep growing together.”
Profiles Are an Investment
A self-described perpetual learner, Jimmy counsels individuals, couples, and teams to use the profile data both in the immediate moment and in the long-term.
He often provides counselees with additional resources, including the Different By Design videos and workbooks, as a way to help them invest further in building stronger relationships. The profile data and these additional tools allow people to focus on their strengths short-term and get to where they need to be for the long haul.
“If you want to help a person to reduce immediate stresses, there is no better way than to use the profiles,” he says. “And that person can use the data for the rest of his life. The profiles are an outstanding investment in a healthier life and healthier relationships.”