Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ramblings on Giftedness, Strengths, and all that Jazz

In my annual conference, we have this thing called a "pastor profile." I imagine that every pastor has a similar thing, whether you're Methodist or not. Our profiles are actually computerized in a database, and while we can edit them at anytime, they "close" on January 15 of every year, when some lucky person burns them onto CD and distributes them to all of the District Superintendents for annual appointment-making.

So, I'm going up for appointment this year, which means that I need to update and revise my pastor profile. I began the process several weeks ago, because I really wanted to begin discerning, struggling with, and naming my gifts, strengths, and growing edges. Sometime in December, I will sit down with my District Superintendent and we'll have a conversation about my gifts, my passions, my preferences, and what sort of church I might feel God calling me to serve. Before that happens, I want to have all of that internalized so I can really "sell" myself as a potentially effective pastor.

I'm the sort of person who best processes information through talking or writing, so I thought it might help to do some of my discerning/struggling/naming on this blog. I already have a very solid draft of my profile, but I'm still trying to internalize it all AND figure out what my "ideal ministry setting" would look like (and since there is no ideal ministry setting, how much I want to compromise on that).

Over the years, I have taken tons and tons of inventories on my personality traits, strengths, and gifts. I'll recap some of those. I've taken the Myers-Briggs many times,  and I am essentially an INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving). However, I function as an extravert in ministry and in social settings where I am comfortable. I'm fairly close to the "border" in terms of iNutitive/Sensing and Perceiving/Judging, as well. I'm a fairly strong "Feeler", but I can be fairly cognitively-oriented, too. In a sense, I can tap into different aspects of my personality, and find that I'm most effective when I do so.

I've taken the DISC inventory twice, and both times had me pretty much "tied" between an "I" (for Influence) and "S" (for Steadiness), which means I can vary between the perpetual cheerleader/visionary/dreamer and the team player who works to have us all hold hands and sing "Kum Ba Yah" together so we can get the job done.

I've also taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, and that's probably been the most helpful of all the inventories I've taken. I highly recommend it, and you can buy the book and take the assessment for under $20. My top five themes are: Adaptability, Connectedness, Input, Positivity, and Communication. People can use their "themes" in different ways, so here's how I see my themes playing out in my life and ministry:
  • Adaptability: I am able to adapt to my environment (sort of like a chameleon) by tapping into different aspects of my personality or different gifts in order to meet the needs of different people. Sometimes I do this automatically, but sometimes I need to be a little more deliberate about it (and that's a good thing, because otherwise I can be "sucked into the system" or lose myself). For example, at BTUMC I tend to tap more into the "perceiving" part of my personality and function more as an "S" because Mac is more of a "judging" personality and I would probably peg him as an "I" (but I'm not sure). So, in our current situation with financial struggles/vision I (independently) am working to try to get everyone on the same page, and therefore functioning more as an "S". 
  • Connectedness: I think this is probably my dominant strength, and all the others serve to complement it. I am a very relational person; I love people, getting to know people, meeting new people, and deepening existing relationships. I'm the sort of person who loves those "ice breaker" games and "group-building" activities. I have a burden for connecting people to each other, because I believe that it is in relationship with other humans that we are most likely to experience the transforming love and grace of God. I also have a passion for connecting people to resources that might enable them to become all God is calling them to be...whether those resources are focused on meeting material, emotional, or spiritual needs. 
  • Input: Can you remember the names of 90% of the teachers and professors you've ever had? I can! Is your brain a repository of (seemingly) useless information? Mine is! I tend to be good at remembering details about people and places. I've discovered that I can use this information to better connect with people...after all, it gives most of us a warm fuzzy feeling when someone remembers the names of our children, what we do for a living, that sort of thing. 
  • Positivity: I see the world through rose-colored glasses. I'm the eternal optimist. I can find something good to say about anyone. (Example: Hitler was a charismatic leader. An evil dictator who attempted to annihilate the Jewish race, but a very charismatic leader nonetheless. Imagine the good he could have accomplished...) At BT, I am currently using this strength to remind our leaders of all the ways God is working through the church to transform our community.
  • Communication: I love to write. I love to preach. I love to communicate the Gospel to people. I also sense a passion for creating/improving venues for communication and ensuring that information is effectively disseminated to whomever needs to receive it. 
I also have a passion for equipping the laity to do the work of the kingdom: helping people discover their gifts, develop those gifts, and use them to transform the church, community, and world.

In a perfect world and in a perfect ministry setting, I would love to be an associate pastor and have my primary responsibilities revolve around using my gifts in relationships and connections...maybe being in charge of congregational care, small groups, and evangelism. I also really like working with youth, although I haven't done so in seven years.Actually in a perfect perfect world, I would love to primarily work with youth and young (and younger) adults (think those under 40), while focusing on the areas I mentioned above.

However, if I wind up as the solo pastor of a station church or two-point charge, I think my gifts would still be very useful; they would just mostly be on a one-on-one basis or used in one or two small groups, instead.

Mac and I are going to have a conversation about my pastor profile sometime...soon. I asked for his feedback on my gifts and strengths, and of course we're also going to wind up discussing my growing edges, which I will probably cover in my next post.

1 comment:

Terri said...

Well. This sounds like a good process for sorting all this out!