Posted: November 26, 2012 in Leadership Development, Spiritual Growth


Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and getting some input. I went to a conference, watched a documentary on people who are obsessed with Star Trek…. So I am trying to put all these thoughts together, to make sense of humankind– what we want and what we need as people.

About 5 years ago, I visited Alaska from Missouri and met Pastor David Pepper from Church on the Rock. After talking with us, he gave Jake and I a book called “Living Your Strengths.” In it is a code to take a test to tell you more about you. It is not the typical personality test, but rather it gives you your top 5 strengths (not your weaknesses, only your strengths) out of a list of 34 strengths. To give you an idea of some of the strengths, mine came out as: Maximizer, Strategic, Ideation, Activator, and Achiever. To know more about the individual strengths you can read the book or buy me lunch and I’ll tell you all about you.

Anyway, this test and the book proved slowly revolutionary for me. Our church leaders give this book out to almost everyone in our church, but I am amazed at the large numbers of people I meet who take the test and then promptly forget their strengths. Granted, maybe the fact that I am a Strategic Maximizer causes me to care more than the average person, I’ll give you that. But I am still convinced that all of us could be more in tune with who we are and how we work best.

The revolutionary premise of all this strengths stuff is this: God has designed you so uniquely that the chances of someone having the same strengths as you in the same order is 1 in 33 million. The chance of someone having the same strengths, experiences, DNA, and personality as you? Incalculable. We all know in our minds that we are amazingly unique, that we don’t have the same fingerprints, blah, blah, blah… We ask ourselves, “So what?” We still don’t get it. We go and live out our lives as though we were identical. We measure ourselves next to people who are wired completely differently from us. In our jobs, homes, and relationships, we try to be “well balanced,” which is often code for, “miserable.” We also don’t get other people. We don’t even see who they are, let alone value them.

Many believers are slowly learning that God doesn’t need us to live in abject poverty to prove that we are faithful. We are slowly learning that he is a God who longs to give us the desires of our hearts. What I’m wondering now is if we can have the faith to believe that God really gives us permission to focus on who he’s made us to be, rather than the “ideal” person he did not make us to be.

Back to the Star Trek documentary I watched. There is a group of people in our society who are obsessed with Star Trek. You have heard they are out there. Maybe you are one of them. Some people feel the kinship of it and others simply marvel at the others who spend their time, money, and energy going to conventions, creating costumes, and living vicariously through Star Trek. Maybe some “Trekkies” or “Trekkers” marvel at others who spend time and money on their favorite sport. As I watched the documentary, I noticed that these people felt a sense of significance watching Star Trek and going to the conventions. They felt that they were part of something larger than themselves. They felt that they could freely enter this world and create their own identity, even their own reality through it. In this world, they could let out some creative energy and find connection and meaning for themselves. In this world, people valued them for the gifts that they had lurking underneath the surface. In Star Trek, they found a way to “engage.” Pun intended.

At the Leveraging Your Strengths conference I attended, I learned that only 30 percent of people are actively engaged in their lives. They are living from a place of strength. They are doing the things that they would do all day long even if they were not getting paid. They know how to live according to the things they do well, and they are not obsessed with their weaknesses. They are the most effective people on planet earth. Often, they are the people most honored, valued, and rewarded for what they do. They have found significance in it. They refuse to believe that God is going to say no to all the things that they enjoy.

If Star Trek marketers have found a way for people to find significance, acceptance and engagement in what they do, why can’t we do the same in the church? Why can’t we teach people to find a life of meaning and abundance now, even before they make it to heaven? I know that we can. But we have to believe that God knows how we are designed, that he pays attention to our internal flame, that he knows what makes us come alive. Rather than ignore us or nitpick at our weaknesses, he calls the best out of us.

I want to be a life “Trekker” so fully alive and engaged in my life that I am supremely effective in the work that I do. I want to know what it is to live life, and live it to the max. Jesus had a word for it: the abundant life. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I will say this: (Trekkers, you will appreciate it.) God is the captain of your ship, and he is pointing his finger at you. He gives the command by saying, “Engage!” What are you waiting for?

  1. Tige & Traci Sundberg says:

    I was just speaking to Gretchen about this! Excellent Blog – thanks for writing again J

    I so needed it as my constant prayer to God is “who am I created to be” and my constant ‘feeling’ which I couldn’t describe in words but you just did for me – is — “How can I live engaged instead of ‘getting by’.”

    Thank you again!


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