Devotional: Don’t Ignore Your Trump Cards

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A Devotional About Focusing on Your Strengths

David suppressed a grin. Joan, to his left, led a six of diamonds. Brian, across from him, followed suit and played a queen of diamonds, thinking he would take the trick. Shari threw down a jack of diamonds in disgust. “I needed that trick!” she exclaimed. “But I had to follow suit and that’s all I had left.”

David had no diamonds in his hand and was not required to follow suit. Instead, he casually dropped a two of spades onto the pile of cards.

hand of playing cards

Image: Best Family Games

The other players groaned and Brian hissed, “He trumped it!” Meanwhile, David gathered up the cards deftly. He had won this round … even with the “lowest” card played.

Trump Takes the Trick

You may be familiar with the concept of trump in trick-taking card games, like Spades or Hearts or Bridge. Trick-taking card games are comprised of a series of rounds in which the highest card “takes the trick,” or that set of cards.

One of the four suits of cards (clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades) is named as “trump” – the suit that is ranked higher than the remaining three suits. Trump cards have precedence over other suits, even if the face number of the trump card is lower than other cards played. Trump always takes the trick, as the card players experienced when David played the two of spades.

How You Look at What You’ve Been Dealt

Good card players know that once a hand is dealt, they must consider a variety of elements to play it well: numerical value of the cards, their suits, trump suit, what cards are played previously by others, for instance. If you only looked at one factor, such as the numerical value on playing cards – and didn’t consider suit – you can be easily misled to play your cards to a disadvantage.

In life each of us has been dealt a hand of strengths and weaknesses. How do you go about considering those two different elements as you play your hand?

Researchers Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton discovered a majority of people – regardless of nationality, gender, age, education, or income – choose to devote their time and energy to investigating just one element: their weaknesses. By not considering other factors, particularly strengths, our collective human view is skewed towards dwelling on our weaknesses.

The thought process focused on weaknesses may go like this: David did not have any diamonds in his hand. He could view that as a weakness and dwell on it. The absence of diamonds meant he couldn’t follow suit … that is, he could not follow the pattern played by others around the table. He could have also looked at the two (on the two of spades) and see the lowest numerical value attached to a playing card, and thereby be consumed with the thought that it is a weak card.

But instead of looking at what he didn’t have, David saw what he did have: trump. Trump is valuable, no matter what numerical value is attached to the card. It takes precedence over other suits. When played appropriately, trump produces a winning hand. David chose to focus on strengths.

Don’t Ignore Your Trump Cards

There is plenty to consider when playing the hand which God has dealt you. It can be tempting to assume your weaknesses outrank your strengths. But that is a lie – albeit an easy one to believe.

The truth is this: your strengths are valuable – and your strengths trump your weaknesses. Further, the Christ-follower does not have the option to dwell on weaknesses at the expense of strengths.

Philippians 4:8 says, “If there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV). When God makes you aware of strengths with which He has blessed you, His command is for you to “think about these things.” God calls us to focus on our strengths.

Instead of looking at what you don’t have, see what you do have. Don’t ignore your trump cards … your strengths.

Play them.

Growth Point

Your strengths trump your weaknesses.


Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(Philippians 4:8, ESV)

Prayer Points

  • Why can it be easy to assume your weaknesses trump your strengths?
  • Name a strength you already know you possess. Do you view it as more valuable than your weaknesses? Why or why not?
  • Consider taking a strengths assessment (if you have not done so already) to identify your strengths, understand them, and use them.

The Leading From Your Strengths profile is a way for you to identify and understand your God-given strengths.

Devotionals: The Puzzle of Strengths

The Puzzle of Strengths, Part 1: The Puzzle of Unique Strengths

The Puzzle of Strengths, Part 2: The Puzzle of Interlocking Pieces

The Puzzle of Strengths, Part 3: The Missing Puzzle Piece

Devotionals: Ways the Disciples Used Their Strengths

Part 1: Managing Change – Let’s Go or Let’s Make a Plan

Part 2: Processing Information: That’s Wonderful or Give Me Proof

Part 3: Problem Solving: Fix It Now or One Step at a Time?

Part 4: Facing Risk: Outside the Box or Work the System?