Quick Insight: Adapted Strengths – It Feels Good to Stretch Once In a While

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

When God calls you to a one-time situation that is radical for you, how do you respond?

You may push back because you lack discernment (“I cannot confirm that God is calling me to do this because it seems so outrageous”) or because of you discomfort (“If this task used my natural strengths, I would do it. But it’s just not me.”)

But that is precisely why God gives you adapted strengths – those unique abilities He calls you to use in certain pivot point situations. And here’s another surprise: using your adapted strengths once in a while can feel good.

Here’s an Insight: Don’t Fight Your Adapted Strengths

man worshipping at sunsetJoseph of Arimathea was a wealthy, respected member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council of leaders.

But he was scared of them.

Joseph was considered to be wary, meticulous, and compliant. Even so, he had not consented to the Council’s decision to kill Jesus. His opposition was completely out of character for Joseph, whose extreme Structured personality exercised overwhelming caution when it came to taking risks. Ramifications would be significant if other members of the council knew that Joseph secretly followed Jesus as Israel’s Messiah.

But the crucifixion awakened Joseph’s adapted strengths and revealed his true faith. In a completely unconventional and almost reckless (for him) move, Joseph requested Jesus’ body from Pilate, prepared the body for burial, and laid Jesus in his own tomb.

He stretched.

Surely his action caused leaders’ tongues to wag, for Joseph’s actions are referenced in all four gospels.

Adapted Strengths Are Stretchy

Your natural strengths are your unique manner or approach to carrying out tasks. Some may even refer to your strengths as “personality.” On the other hand, your adapted strengths are adjustments you make to your environment. They indicate the behavior that may not be most natural to you or that’s even a stretch.

If you regularly use your adapted strengths, you are likely to become stressed and exhausted. That’s why it’s healthy to seek ways to use your natural strengths routinely in your home environment, work environment, and other relationships.

But from time to time, God will call on you to stretch.

Take Joseph of Arimathea, for instance. His adapted strength represents one of the largest movements possible, from a naturally extreme low-risk taker who exercised overwhelming caution (a 9 or 10 on the Risk Taking scale) to a fearless, bold, almost reckless Pioneer ( a 9 or10 on the Risk Taking scale.)

God called him to use that adapted strength in a particular situation.

There will be times when He calls you to use your adapted strengths, too. But God has equipped you to do so. Adapted strengths are for specific situations and for specific purposes – even when you cannot discern the specific purpose or when the stretching feels unnatural.

In fact, the stretch might even reveal your true faith and allow you to grow. And maybe that’s what God intends all along.

Go ahead and stretch. You might be surprised that once in a while, it feels good.


Now How Should I Live?

Read the story of Joseph of Arimathea in John 19:38-42.

  • How did God equip Joseph of Arimathea for this specific situation?
  • Why was this situation a stretch for Joseph?
  • God doesn’t call you without equipping you (Hebrews 13:21). How does that truth encourage you?

More About Adapted Strengths

How Are You Having to Adapt?

Where Do You “Cross the Line” of Strengths and What Does It Mean?

Strengths vs. Gifts: What’s the Difference?