Third in a 3-part series that celebrates how differences complete us
We have bought into the lie that differences between people divide us. Yet the truth is that God’s design is for our differences to complete us.
During this series, we address the 3-part cycle that celebrates how differences complete us. Once you discover your own strengths, the next natural step is to understand the strengths of those around you.
But what happens after that?
The Problem with Simply Tolerating Differences
A common trap today is to superficially accept differences: “If that is how you are, that is cool. It is your choice.” This seemingly tolerant approach to differences is deceptive, at best, because it assumes a person’s differences are his “choice.”
They clearly are not. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all” (1 Corinthians 12:4, NLT).
God gives differences to each of us deliberately and intentionally.
In your effort to extend magnanimous acceptance, you may unwittingly take away God’s due. Tolerance credits another person’s uniqueness as his choice, but actually steals recognition from God for creating that person with unique strengths.
Blending Means Embracing
Mere tolerance presents yet another problem. Rather than embracing strengths in others, tolerance merely endures them. By saying, “That’s the way you are? OK. Whatever,” you simply allows others’ differences to exist.
That approach separates people. Deep down, each of us craves acceptance and affirmation of our uniqueness. Tolerance says you are not like others, so you don’t fit in (you are isolated) or your differences are simply endured (but not celebrated).
Rather than simply “putting up with” others’ differences, God calls us to embrace them. And with good reason: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7, ESV).
The strengths you have been given and others have been given are for mutual benefit. Combining them together is God’s design and offers advantages for everyone.
Ways to Begin to Blend Your Strengths with Others
Once you have identified your strengths and the strengths of those around you, begin to blend your strengths with others with these proactive steps. (If you’re not sure of your strengths, you can complete a strengths inventory here.)
- Get feedback
Allow the people closest to you to read your profile report. Discuss it with them. Have them ask questions about the statements and descriptions provided.
- Process others’ strengths together
Ask others around you to complete a strengths profile. Talk about the results.
- Identify action steps
Download the free Leading From Your Strengths Workbook. Go through it on your own to gain deeper insights about your individual strengths. Ask team members or family members to do the same so you can identify keys to motivating each other and best ways to communicate with each other. Challenge each other to take one or two of their own action steps as soon as possible.
- Know what you can and can’t change
As you review your strengths, the strengths of those around you, and your environment, identify what facets you can change (how you choose to interact with others) and what elements are beyond your control (how people respond to you).
- Blend both short-term and long-term
Blending can happen immediately – in the light bulb moment when you discover your strengths and the strengths of those around you – and over time, as you discover new ways of working together with others to use your strengths. Take steps to pursue both timetables.
Choose to Blend Your Strengths with Others
When it comes to blending your strengths with others, there is little middle ground. Instead, there are two choices.
You can shrug off differences with others in the name of tolerance and remain isolated. Or you can accept the challenge to embrace others’ strengths and blend them with your own, thereby enriching your life and the lives of those around you.
To be sure, your choice impacts your relationships. But ultimately, your decision about blending differences reveals how you view God.
One choice means ignoring God’s role in creating each of us with differences. The other choice means valuing how He made each of us.
The choice is yours.
The Truth About Differences series
The Truth about Differences, Part 1: Choose to Discover Your Strengths
The Truth about Differences, Part 2: Choose to Understand Others’ Strengths
Read the series about the Mystery of Differences
The Mystery of Differences Part 1: Uncovering the Facts
The Mystery of Differences Part 2: Understanding Yourself First
The Mystery of Differences Part 3: Understanding Others
The Mystery of Differences, Part 4: Understanding the Need to Blend