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.
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.
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?