Misconceptions About Strengths, Part 4: Similarities

Fourth in a series that addresses misconceptions about leading from our strengths

God created you and those around you with unique strengths and has placed you together to be more together than you can be alone. But misconceptions can get in the way of learning to lead from your strengths. This series reveals common misconceptions about strengths and the truths behind the myths.


Misconception #4: Similarities – Hire People Like You

Matthew, the lead pastor of a large church, couldn’t understand colleague Tim’s frustration. Members of the congregation were feeling supported, served, and loved. But according to Tim, the executive pastor who had recently joined the team, nothing was getting done – even with a full-time staff of 15.

2 men talking in silhouette

Image: Sepal Digital

That’s one reason tension escalated between the two men when a key position opened on the staff. Matthew wanted to hire Candidate A, a creative type who placed a high value on developing relationships. He couldn’t understand Tim’s interest in Candidate B – a methodical finisher with clear organizational skills.

And no wonder. Matthew (like most of his staff) was gifted with people-oriented strengths and functioned best in a service-oriented atmosphere. Tim, meanwhile, was task-oriented. He knew the team needed various strengths represented in order for the ministry to flourish.

Matthew had fallen into a common leadership trap. He believed he should hire people who carried out ministry like he did.

Differences Make a Team Complete

While God is the bottom-line unifying factor in those who serve together, says Paul, it is their differences that make a team work well together – not their personal similarities. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit,” he wrote. “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men” (1 Corinthians 12:5:4-6, NIV). Differences make a complete team.

Different kinds of gifts (verse 4)

God wired each of us differently and has placed us together to build His Kingdom, Paul explains, assigning each individual with special endowments, capabilities, and aptitudes.  Different strengths are God’s design. We are not supposed to be the same – and that’s a good thing. Leaders like Matthew are often unaware that the differences in people actually offer enormous strengths. God’s plan of diversity on a team provides something better over Matthew’s misconception of similarities.

Different kinds of service (verse 5)

“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.”  The Greek term for “service,” diakonia, refers to an office or position (versus an individual strength, as in verse 4). Two individuals may successfully fulfill a similar role but be gifted with different strengths. Ellen’s strength is her predictable approach to new things. She presents material in a deliberate, systematic way.  Her students grasp a clear understanding of a concept quickly and easily. Meanwhile, Bryan is a dynamic communicator who flourishes in a fast-paced classroom. His object lessons are intriguing, allowing students to understand principles from a different viewpoint. Both Ellen and Bryan are excellent teachers. They serve in the same kind of position, even though their strengths are vastly different.

Different kinds of working (verse 6)

The same kind of gift in two different people can show itself differently. Jim is outgoing. He greets every person who walks in the door by name. Trish is outgoing, too. She notices the lonely newcomer who stands in the corner and takes time to strike up a conversation. God wired Jim and Trish with a similar strength – the ability to reach out and talk to people – and activates it in different ways to meet different needs.

Differences are a God Thing

Like many of us, Matthew had confused the outcome of his ministry with the method in which it was carried out. In other words, he mistakenly thought all staff members needed to have relationally-oriented strengths in order for his congregation to feel supported, served, and loved.

When Matthew came to understand God’s design in differences is for us to complete each other, he recognized the leadership gaps that needed to be filled on his team. In the end, he offered the staff position to Candidate B, the deliberate, detail-oriented tasker.

“He is different from me,” said Matthew. “But that’s a good thing.”

And it’s a God thing, too.

Leading From Your Strengths (LFYS) Profiles empower Christian leaders, churches, and ministries to take this step – to discover and use your God-given strengths and be stronger for it individually and together.


More Misconceptions about Leading From Your Strengths

Misconceptions about Strengths, Part 1: Pride

Misconceptions about Strengths, Part 2: Value

Misconceptions about Strengths, Part 3: Weaknesses

Misconceptions about Strengths, Part 5: Self-Made Success