A devotional about using your strengths
Your environment can impact your strengths in a positive way or in a negative way. As you adapt your natural strengths to your environment, the changes you make are like a mask.
Your home life, your work life, your church life, and your relationships all offer opportunities to live out your strengths. Sometimes your natural strengths align clearly with what’s expected of you. Sometimes your situation calls upon you to use your natural strengths to a greater degree than you have previously. In both those instances, you feel valued and are able to flourish.
Yet your environment may require you to use skills that are not part of your natural strengths – so you make adjustments in order to be accepted and to succeed. Adaptation can be good, for it stretches us. Yet long-term adaptation consumes energy and can lead to stress and frustration.
The changes you make when adapting are like a mask. A mask has limitations … but it can do much for you, too.
A Mask’s Different Functions
At first glance, the word “mask” conveys the idea of disguise. Don’t get stuck there.
A mask can be a useful tool. Functional masks offer protection. Theatrical masks help the wearer cultivate a different image, often with good reason.
You may adopt a mask as a means to protect your strengths. Or you may wear a mask that allows you to cultivate your strengths in a way you previously have not pursued.
A Mask Protects the Face
Functional masks are worn on the head and face to provide protection. A surgical mask guards both medical personnel and patients from infection. Gas masks shield the body from airborne pollutants and toxins. A football helmet’s face mask, made of a hard plastic shell, interior thick padding, metal bars, and a chinstrap, is designed to protect the player from injury.
In the same way, you may wear a figurative functional mask in your work environment, your home environment, your church environment, or other relational environments as a means of protection. When your strengths are not valued, it is natural to preserve them so you can use them in a different environment where they will be appreciated. Protection also serves as a shield. You are to “guard what has been entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20, RSV.) Your God-given strengths are not to be squandered but used with intentionality to contribute to Kingdom work. Examine how you adapt to your environment see how to use a mask in place to protect the strengths entrusted to you.
A Mask Cultivates an Image
Theatrical masks play two roles – one for the wearer and one for the viewer
For the wearer. As you adapt your natural strengths to your environment, you may put on the face that’s needed to satisfy the demands around you. A word of caution: significant discrepancy between your natural strengths and your adaptive strengths may lead you to expend a great amount of energy to maintain your mask. You can tolerate this change for a time, particularly if your passions, beliefs, and value needs are being met.
Yet as you examine your reasons for wearing a mask, you may also discover this “new face” simply stretches the strengths you already possess. In that sense, your mask represents the person you are becoming. Examine whether the ways you adapt to your environment are causing you to hide (behind an altogether different identity) … or stretch and cultivate (to use your strengths.)
For the viewer. Is a mask deceptive to others around you, challenging them to see you differently? Consider this: your “new face” may allow others the opportunity to acknowledge your strengths for the first time or perhaps in a light they’d not previously considered.
Tread wisely. As you adapt your strengths to your environment, what you thought of as a mask of disguise may reveal a significant stress factor in your life.
But your mask may also represent more of the real you than you first thought.
More Devotionals from Ministry Insights
Devotional: Focus on the As, Not the Fs
Devotional: Beat Stress With Your Strengths
Devotional: Can You Rewire Your Brain’s Default Setting?
Devotional: Is Your Eyesight Fuzzy or Clear?
Devotional: Pen in Hand: Embracing Your Strengths
Devotional: Individuality or Conformity – Must You Choose?
Devotional: How to Avoid “The Unimportance Trap”