Paul Tepker was serving as chief of staff at a large church in California in 2008 when he stumbled upon the Leading From Your Strengths profiles online. Because he always sought out tools to use for team-building, Paul purchased a profile for himself. The dead-on accurate results were astounding, and Paul decided to use team building resources to lead his church staff through completing the profiles and the team process.
Over the ensuing weeks and months, Paul noticed that staff conflicts were handled more calmly because of the team’s knowledge gained from the profiles, and there was a new appreciation for the strengths that each person brought to the team. The profiles had given the staff a common language in talking about how they functioned personally and how they interacted with each other. Members had come to understand their own behavioral styles as well as the styles of their teammates.
The following spring, Paul and his wife Carol had the opportunity to meet Ministry Insights founder Rodney Cox. Rodney invited them to a leadership training conference later that summer, where Paul and Carol completed the Level 2 Certification and learned about the marriage curriculum Different by Design, for which they later became certified facilitators.
Soon using the profiles became Paul’s standard procedure as new staff members joined his church team, and he drew upon in-depth profile material as he coached individual staff members in their roles. As his work extended to coaching other churches as a facilitator, Paul found the profiles help individual leaders, teams, and couples.
Profiles Help Leaders
One pastor mentioned to Paul that he had struggled with the image he had in his mind of what a leader should be – bold and driven. How could he be cut out to be a senior pastor or leader when he wasn’t high on the aggressive side of the problem-solving scale, but rather his strengths lay in a studied, more cautious approach?
Yet once this man realized his strengths were a gift from God, the “light came on” in a life-changing revelation, says Paul. He realized that he could lead from the reflective end of the scale. Others around him who have a more pioneering problem-solving approach help complete the team. This leader is now serving as senior pastor of the church and is flourishing in that role.
Profiles Help Teams
In working with staffs, Paul has found the Strengths Wheel to be one of the more helpful tools in team-building. The wheel reveals each member’s natural strengths and adapted strengths in a visual representation of the team. Most groups are not aware of the important dynamic of adaptation, in which members adjust their strengths to their environment. This principle has proven to be very enlightening in Paul’s work, especially when he discovers that one member of the team is isolated from everyone else.
In one particular case, an entire staff completed the profile under Paul’s guidance only to discover that every team member’s natural strength score was located on the people-oriented side of the wheel – except the leader, who was task-oriented. Further, the team’s adapted scores showed that all but one had moved to the task orientation side of the wheel. Such an adaptation of an entire team can lead to stress, friction and frustration. Now, the team and the leader are working through meaningful discussions to find ways for every person to lead from their strengths.
Profiles Help Couples
Meanwhile, Paul and Carol have used their training as Different By Design facilitators to present the conference both at their own church and to pastors and their wives throughout California. “We always start the conference by asking the couples why they came,” says Paul.
One couple admitted that their marriage had collapsed and the weekend was a last resort to save it. The profiles and their understanding of each other’s strengths made all the difference. As the couple thanked the Tepkers on the last day, they had tears in their eyes. Six months later, Paul and Carol were invited to the renewal of the couple’s marriage vows in a ceremony at the church. “How awesome to have been blessed to play a part in God’s miraculous work of restoring a marriage!” says Paul.
Over and over, Paul has seen how the profiles make all the difference in relationships, both at work and at home. “The profile accurately reveals natural behaviors and strengths,” he says. “I use it to lay a solid groundwork of self-understanding, then moving to the Adaptive Strengths chart to prompt questions and get at what is going on under the surface with leaders, teams, and couples.”
An Advocate Who Promotes Profiles and Equips Others To Use Them
Today, Paul promotes profiles and devotes himself to equipping others to use the profiles. In the fall of 2013, he joined the Ministry Insights team as a consultant and coach, introducing southwestern churches and Christian schools to the LFYS profile and team-building process.
“As I talk to ministry leaders, I invite them to take the profile for themselves,” says Paul. “I say that with full confidence, knowing they will be amazed at its accuracy and its ability to unlock insights about themselves and their team.”