If your seed is your calling, and God has given EVERYONE a calling on their life; then how, exactly, do we uncover ours? In the first part of “Knowing Your Seed”, we discussed two important steps: seeking God daily and planting yourself in the church as you begin to give away the very thing you’re asking to receive. The great news is by doing so, you oftentimes can unlock God’s blessings on your life as we discussed in 1 Kings 18. God has created you to be unique. To serve a specific role in His kingdom and for His glory. There is only one of you. Only you can complete the purposes He has planned. Because of this, it is not God’s design for you to live your entire life and not uncover what that calling is. It IS His plan that you grow an intimate relationship with Him so that He can show you His plan and allow your seed to bear fruit. God is infinitely more concerned about your heart and your ‘becoming’ than the ‘what’ of your calling.
Now, for the third step in identifying your seed-knowing your strengths. Marcus Buckingham does a phenomenal job explaining the differences between strengths and weaknesses. That weaknesses are not just what you’re bad at and strengths what you’re good at, but it’s about what gives you energy and excitement v what leaves you feeling drained. You can be very capable at completing something, but you may also hate doing it and avoid it whenever possible. So, just because you’re ‘good’ at something does not make this a strength; it makes it a weakness.
Two ways to identify your strengths is one: to look for your SIGN. Success, Instinct, Growth, Needs. SUCCESS means when I do a certain activity I feel effective; I do it well; I enjoy it. INSTINCT is before I do it, I always look forward to it. GROWTH refers to the realization that while I do it, I can almost feel my brain growing as I learn more. I dive deeper than is necessary into topics about it. I’m able to easily concentrate and get into a flow with my synapses firing. NEEDS is the feeling of authenticity or fulfillment which comes after completing it.
As you go about your week, carry a notepad or find a place in your phone to keep track of the times when you are successful, excited, looking forward to a task, getting into a flow and feel a sense of fulfillment. On the flip-side, take note of the times, that leave you feeling drained; activities or areas that you dread or postpone as much as possible. This is a great first step to separating your strengths from your weaknesses. Once you have a few weeks written down, look at your list and find one, clear one in your mind to start with. Start asking yourself some basic questions about it.
Why did I list this example?
What was it, specifically, that I enjoyed or excited me?
If I were to narrow it down to 1-2 key phrases, what would it be?
Does it matter when I do it? How I do it? Who I do it with/for?
After you have a few answers to one of your clear SIGN moments, let’s further clarify it to help you put it into what Marcus calls a “strength statement.” First, you’ll start by using the sentence, “I feel strong when…” and selecting a verb. Now, read it aloud. How does that feel to you? If not quite right, change the verb for one more specific. For example, you often hear people say, “I enjoy working with people.” Well, that’s great, but what does that mean? You enjoy teaching people? Serving people? Corresponding with people? Leading people? Knitting for people? There are so many verbs out there and each one changes the context while clarifying your meaning just a little bit more.
Once you have your verb narrowed down, let’s work on getting even more specific. If I said, I enjoy serving people, does it matter where I serve them? How I serve them? Who I serve? Most likely, the answer is yes. I might feel strong when I’m serving a young child a much-needed lunch at school, but would not enjoy waiting on tables in a restaurant. So, who I’m serving and where I’m serving are important to me in identifying my strength statement. Even with a statement such as, “I feel strong when I serve meals to young children at school” can I clarify it even more? Is it a certain age, such as preschool, or a certain type of school, such as a low socioeconomic school, where I feel strongest? Is it serving the food specifically or something else that I’m doing with the children or for the children while I’m serving the food that is actually what makes me feel strong? The more specific you can be, the easier it is to uncover your strengths.
Now as a goal, work on selecting 2-3 good strength statements to clarify and write them out. Read them altogether. When you do, you should have an immediate gut response of “YES! This..This is what I love.” If you don’t, keep tweaking those statements until you do. If you feel strong just reading them , read them all again and look for any underlining themes or connections. This connection will be a great SIGN for calling God has placed on your life.
Now, I do want to add a bit of caution to you as you walk through this process. It takes time. This is not a one & done weekend assignment. The more you seek God, the more He’ll begin to show you things in your life and connections from your life you may never have noticed before. Because we’ve all been gifted with a seed, it’s important to remember that each seed germinates on its own schedule. Some take much longer than others. The key is to keep trusting God to germinate your seed in HIS timing (not ours) and to not loose heart while you wait. As Wendy Pope says, “Sometimes God’s greatest work happens during intermission.” After every seed is planted, there is a waiting period before the seed is germinated and new life penetrates the earth. And after every season of reaping, replanting must happen and waiting begins again. The key throughout all of it, is to be patient.