The Puzzle of Strengths, Part 2: The Puzzle of Interlocking Pieces
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 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 us represents a unique piece of a puzzle. When our strengths are combined, we make a whole.
Most jigsaw puzzles are “fully interlocking,” meaning adjacent pieces interconnect with one another. The fit is both structural and visual. When combined correctly, the pieces produce the puzzle’s visual image. But fully interlocking puzzles also stay joined structurally. Connections in between pieces of a completed interlocking jigsaw puzzle are tight enough to allow it to maintain its shape when it is moved.
On the other hand, non-interlocking puzzles are made up of pieces that are not as close-fitting. These pieces match up visually, but not always structurally. Pieces often shift around. When completed, the puzzle must remain where it was constructed, often in a box or on a flat surface. If is moved or lifted off its surface it will not maintain its shape. Instead, pieces will fall apart.
God creates the Body of Christ to be like interlocking puzzle pieces, rather than non-interlocking ones. Each of us is endowed with unique strengths. When members of the Body find their strengths, use their strengths, and value strengths in one another, we interconnect with each other to form a whole. Together we are stronger and can withstand changeable movements that are part of growth. We’re designed to fit together to reflect the character of Jesus … and for our connections to remain strong.
But if you don’t know your strengths and use them, you may shift purposelessly, much like non-interlocking puzzle pieces that lack clarity about fit.
Interlocking Puzzle Pieces Produce Order
What happens when you empty the content of the puzzle box onto the table and begin to sort through the pieces? Chaos reigns.
The first thing most serious puzzlers do is to turn the puzzle pieces face up and begin the sorting process. Each interlocking puzzle piece displays just a tiny part of the picture’s full image. Puzzlers work to arrange pieces according to the image. Border pieces are grouped together. Pieces with similar colors or visual textures are clustered so they can be assembled into smaller sections. Awareness begins to bring about order from the confusion.
Likewise, confusion can abound when God’s people are not aware of their strengths. That’s one reason the strengths discovery process is so powerful.
The process begins when you allow God to “sort” – or identify – your strengths. In discovering your strengths, you begin to see the tiny portion of God’s image that you represent. God can reveal where He has placed you to use those strengths. He can use you to begin to create order.
Our God is not a God of confusion, but of order (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Awareness of your strengths begins to bring about order from the confusion.
Interlocking Pieces Build on One Another
Puzzlers study sorted pieces to ascertain where one, then another, fit together. Sections in interlocking puzzles come together piece by piece, as one joins with another. A correctly-placed puzzle piece paves the way for more puzzle pieces to be added.
Likewise, the people in Body of Christ are assembled one at a time. It begins when just one person is willing to be used where God places him.
That willingness is win-win. As you begin to lead from your strengths and become willing to interlock with another, you not only connect with the whole. You also create a means for others to do so, too. As you interconnect, you show others that their strengths are needed.
It takes just one person to start the interlocking-puzzle-piece process at home, at work, in the community, or in ministry – by discovering your strengths, using your strengths and valuing the strengths in others.
You can be that person.