Doug Akers Uses Profiles in Church Consulting
“LifeWay deals directly with over 40,000 churches,” says Doug Akers, speaking of the Nashville-TN-based leading provider of Bibles, curriculum, books, audio/visual and Christian resources.
That’s a lot of churches.
Doug serves as Lifeway’s lead church consultant, helping to equip teams across the U.S. to maximize their ministry. Leading From Your Strengths profiles have become a key part of that process.
When LifeWay began using the Leading From Your Strengths profiles with its own staff in 2006, “I found great value in the profiles for me personally,” says Doug. “I was impressed with the accuracy. The data has helped me understand who I am.” He obtained Ministry Insights Level I and Level II certifications and began to use the profile with church leaders.
Since then Doug has reviewed over 150 profiles for teams and has become exceedingly proficient in explaining characteristics and tendencies from data results. Each profile and team process allows him to glean new insights about how to help others understand themselves and those on their teams better.
Profiles Lead to “Aha” Moments in Planning for Church Leaders
The first step in effective strategic planning, says Doug, is not to evaluate programs or even set goals. Rather, he makes it a priority to help teams understand their present reality.
“A big key is to help the staff identify and understand how it interacts and communicates,” says Doug. When a team can see how it currently operates, the ministry is positioned to grasp what it needs to do to grow. Each staff member completes the profile. Then Doug plots the team’s results on the Strengths Wheel and leads the staff through a discussion of what value each member brings to the team.
The discussion of the difference between the “natural strengths” and “adapted strengths” always leads to a healthy dialogue for team members that are tasked with responsibilities outside of their natural strengths.
Such was the case during a church consultation in which the worship leader, Anna, confessed to being overly stressed. Her natural strengths identified her as a high promoter/persuader, always choosing a fast-paced, competitive approach. Yet her profile revealed she was adapting to her ministry environment by using a slower-paced coordinator/supporter approach, and routinely felt anxious and tense in being so relaxed. Once Anna understood that she was naturally wired to operate at a faster, results-oriented pace (though many of her responsibilities required her to be slower-paced and more people-oriented) she was open to suggestions. Anna learned how to arrange her schedule and enlist others so that she could enjoy her job again. Simple understanding of her natural strengths and her adaptive strengths gave her freedom.
The profiles also can lead to a different kind of “Aha” moment by uncovering issues that hold team members back. In one instance, a student pastor’s results were off the scale as a conductor – a results-oriented, bold decision maker. “He responded in anger when we pointed out he needed to enlist others on his team to help him learn to relate to people more effectively,” says Doug. The young man’s reaction revealed deeper issues he needed to face in order to be an effective leader that could help his team to grow.
The Profile’s Impact Is Like a “Divine Revelation”
Numerous profile products on the market attempt to quantify key personality traits for individuals, but for Doug, Leading From Your Strengths is unique in at least four ways:
- LFYS profiles are centered on the biblical foundation of differences.
- LFYS profiles indicate both natural strengths and adaptive strengths.
- LFYS profiles map complete teams, helping members to identify team strengths.
- LFYS profiles report on a continuum in which extremes and strengths have value as being simply different, rather than on a vertical scale in which one extreme is perceived as better.
Doug likens the profile’s impact to divine revelation. “When I see a leader come to the realization that he can act and communicate based on who he is, I have the same kind of feeling I experience when I see someone come to know Christ,” he says. The revelation offers users understanding along with a significant challenge to put this new-found knowledge into practice, similar to the challenge new Christ-followers experience at the beginning of their spiritual journey.
“I believe Ministry Insights and its products are being used by God,” says Doug. “The profiles help people understand themselves, communicate and interact in a more meaningful ways, and lead more people to salvation.”
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