The Puzzle of Strengths, Part 1: The Puzzle of Unique Strengths
A jigsaw puzzle is a set of numerous interlocking pieces that are assembled together to produce a complete picture, often of nature, landscapes, or a recognizable piece of art. Each piece of the puzzle is unique. When fit together, each piece contributes to the entire puzzle.
A jigsaw puzzle is an apt depiction of the Body of Christ. Each of our strengths represents a unique piece of a puzzle. When our strengths are combined, we make a whole.
Unique Puzzle Pieces Fit In More Easily
Most jigsaw puzzles are “fully interlocking,” meaning adjacent pieces interconnect with one another.
But the shapes of puzzle pieces differ greatly. Some pieces have straight edges to be used in the puzzle border. Some puzzles even feature “whimsy pieces” which are cut into specific recognizable shapes, like flowers or animals. Many puzzle pieces are four-sided, with rounded tabs on two opposite ends and gaps on other sides to fit tabs of adjacent pieces.
But even puzzle pieces in this standard shape are very different from one another. The size of the tabs and gaps on ends may be larger or smaller. Or the distance between the tabs and gaps varies.
Regardless of puzzle piece shapes, when they have obvious differences it is easier to fit them together. Odd, unique, irregular, and offbeat pieces stand out.
So do puzzle pieces with distinct colors and visual textures. It’s common to pull out pieces with a bit of red or yellow, for example, and put together those sections first – or pluck out an unusually-shaped piece and find its neighbors quickly.
Uniqueness in puzzle pieces is a strength.
Similar Pieces Have a Harder Time Fitting In
Ironically, the most difficult jigsaw puzzles to complete are those with uniformly-shaped pieces or those made of all one color. Sameness creates a problem.
Quite simply, the pieces are too much alike to distinguish from one another. It is extremely hard to find the right place for pieces that look alike.
Why Your Unique Strengths Bring Others Together
Clearly, differences are strengths – both with jigsaw puzzles and in the Body of Christ.
In our drive for acceptance, we may be tempted to think that being different is not a good thing. The person who is unconventional or who possesses unusual abilities may fear being ostracized.
God takes a different approach.
Just as unique pieces of a jigsaw puzzle are a key in allowing sections of a puzzle come together, so it is with individual strengths. Your uniqueness makes you stand out, allowing you to find your place in God’s story.
When you understand your strengths and are in place – functioning well – others can interconnect with you more easily. The whole comes together.
Don’t think for one minute that your uniqueness isolates you. When you recognize your strengths and begin to lead from those strengths, you help others to do the same.
Like a one-of-a-kind puzzle piece, your strengths make a special place for you … and allow others to fit in.