Insight: Flip the Switch. Use Your Adapted Strengths to Resolve Conflict

Insights are short, biblical truths to equip you to lead from your strengths.

No matter what your natural strengths, they remain stable over time. Yet your environment changes regularly. Periodically you must adapt to your environment. In doing so, you exercise your “adapted strengths.”

Ananias and Paul from Vimeo

Images: Ananias and Paul from Vimeo

In a conflict, God may call you to flip the switch from using your natural strengths and use your adapted strengths short-term. Such was the situation for Paul and Ananias.

Paul was driven leader who had been working intensely to imprison, persecute, and kill Jews who believed in Jesus. He had special orders from Jerusalem’s high priest to infiltrate the synagogues in Damascus. As he traveled on the road to Damascus, Paul had a vision. “Why do you persecute Me?” Jesus asked him. “Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:4, 6, NIV).

Ananias had heard the reports about this man and the harm he inflicted. Christians feared Paul; he had authority to make arrests. The conflict between Paul and Ananias was not a small spat between old buddies, but rather a conflict best characterized as the hunter versus the hunted – the persecutor versus the persecuted – with possible far-flung ramifications.

Yet in the conflict God used both Paul and Ananias to be instruments of reconciliation.

Here’s an Insight

God can use your adapted strengths in specific situations in order to help resolve a conflict.

Consider how Paul had to adapt after his Damascus road experience. With the natural strengths of a dynamic, aggressive leader, Paul was now blinded and completely dependent upon those around him. He was a man who was used to making things happen, but now God said, “You will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). Paul did not know what would come next. That required him to call on his adaptive strengths. Three days of fasting, prayer and contemplation (instead of his customary frenetic activity) led Paul to cooperate with God

Meanwhile in Damascus, a devout, respected Jewish Christian named Ananias also had a vision from the Lord – one calling him to go to speak to Paul.  In his natural low-key, methodical approach, Ananias quietly asked God to validate the message. Did the Lord actually want him to surrender himself to the bloodthirsty man seeking to arrest him? God’s confirmation required Ananias to switch from his natural strengths to use his adapted strengths instead. Ananias stepped out with trust, courage, and urgency to confront Paul.

Flip the Switch! Use Your Adapted Strengths Short-Term to Open Doors

Both men had to flip the switch from their natural strengths and use their adapted strengths in the situation, but not long-term.

Once God used Ananias as an instrument in Paul’s physical and spiritual restoration, Ananias moved back into the mode which earned him so much respect in the local Christian community – that of a connector. He saw to it that Paul was baptized. He introduced Paul to other Christians in Damascus and vouched for him, paving the way for Paul to speak to gatherings and share the good news.

Paul wasted no time in reverting back to using his natural strengths, either. “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). He built a loyal following, quickly earning trust among his new disciples as is typical among charismatic leaders. The Damascus Christians risked their lives helping Paul escape death threats.

These two men used their adapted strengths short-term, opening the door to Paul’s mission ministry. Both were willing to let God stretch them during an important moment in building His church.

Are you?

Now How Shall I Live?

Read the account of the confrontation between Paul and Ananias (Acts 9:1-31).

  • Record Paul’s natural and adaptive strengths.
  • Record Ananias’ natural and adaptive strengths.
  • How did God use these men’s strengths to launch Paul’s mission ministry?

Discover your strengths when you take the Leading From Your Strengths profile.

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