Living Your Strengths Blog

The Greatest Example of Strength In The History of Earth

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)

On day three of our parish mission 2019, presenter Joe Farris pointed to the crucifix in our sanctuary, declaring it “the most beautiful love story ever told,” asking, “What more could he have done for you?” Ponder the spiritual and life-changing implications in that question.

Sitting in a first-row pew on the center aisle, I looked up at the larger than life depiction of Our Savior, true God from true God, battered and beaten, alone on a cross, suffering an ignominious death reserved by Romans as punishment for the “worst of the worst.”

Studying the crucifix illuminated by overhead spotlights that emphasized the shadows and details on the body of Christ, it was his knees that struck me. The knees of Our Lord God were dirty, bruised, and bloody from being knocked down on the rough stones of the Via Dolorosa. Beaten and spit upon, Jesus fell three times. Being fully human, Jesus could have lashed out as we might have done. He was apprehensive, aware of the pain and torture to come as nails would be driven through flesh and bone.

He could have called upon the Father to send legions of angels to smite his tormentors. But Jesus did not fight back. He fell three times. Three times he got back up. In his humanity and divinity, he found strength, knowing that his Father would never abandon him. He found the strength of forgiveness. Yes, the crucifix exemplifies the greatest love story ever told. But what I also saw was the greatest example of strength in the history of the earth.

It was the creator of the universe, my creator, your creator, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, a force beyond human comprehension, telling me, telling you, telling us, as echoed by Saint Paul the Apostle, that you and “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:13)

When you are called to account on your last day, God will ask, “Did you read my book?” He will also ask, “Did you use the talents I gave you to build my house on earth?”

Strength. You have it. I have it. We, the community and family that is Saint Brigid Catholic Church, have it. But strength doesn’t just happen. Physical strength. Mental strength. Spiritual strength. Strength of character. Strength of purpose. Strength development is a lifelong process.  It must be desired, discerned, nurtured, sustained.

Strengths development is the mission of the Living Your Strengths (LYS) program at Saint Brigid. You were born with specific God-given talents. A talent is a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving. The Gallup Clifton Strengths Finder assessment, which you complete on your computer in about 25-30 minutes, identifies your talent themes, a grouping of similar talents.

A personalized report, unique to you, reveals and details your Top Five talent themes, those dominate talents that show up frequently and powerfully in virtually everything you do. If you are right-handed and someone forced you to pen a message with your non-dominate left hand, you could do it. But you would struggle. The penmanship would be sloppy; execution painfully slow. You would hate it and demand to get back to what comes naturally.

That’s life. In our family, community, work, and even volunteer life, often we are pushed into the wrong role or activity, not using our natural and dominant talents. That’s where disengagement, boredom, and “dropping out” comes from.

Understanding your unique talents and those of others—spouse, children, other loved ones, work associates, team members in any group setting including volunteer and church activities—is key to satisfaction, purpose, motivation, goal attainment, and effectiveness.

You also have  “supporting themes,” talents that sometimes support you as an individual, amplifying your dominant themes. Of the 34 themes identified in a full Gallup report, you will see “lesser themes” that sometimes may describe you. Being pushed into roles or situations where talents in your “lesser categories” are called for, you are acting ineffectively and frustratingly in weakness, well off of “the road to success and fulfillment.” We see that as people jump from job to job, never finding nirvana.

Once you discern your dominant talents and what they mean, you add skill and knowledge to build a strength. Skill is the ability to deliver consistent, near-perfect performance in a specific task.  Knowledge also is required, what you know. Talent + Skill + Knowledge = Strength. The Living Your Strength formula is a blueprint for strength attainment and development

When you are called to account on your last day, God will ask, “Did you read my book?” He will also ask, “Did you use the talents I gave you to build my house on earth?”

Without the strength of Jesus on the cross culminating in the resurrection, there would be no New Covenant, no “fired up” apostles, no Christian Catholic church. Without the Last Supper and the passion of Christ, there’d be no Holy Communion, no priesthood. Like some, we’d be still waiting for our Messiah to come. He came. He promised. He gave you talents and tools. He outlined the rewards inherent in living as He created you to be, earthly rewards and eternal rewards.

Join us in discerning, developing, and living your strengths. Doing so will bring energy and meaning to all of your relationships and endeavors involving family, work, community, and faith. Joe Farris reminded us, “Nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37) At your creation, God instilled in you the talents needed to “build His house.” He gave you extraordinary gifts.

What more could he have done for you?

– Lewis Walker