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The truth of our life is that God knows us. We were created uniquely and intentionally, with talents and strengths that can empower us to faithfully live out our purpose. By understanding and developing our personal strengths, we can actually be the kind of people we are meant to be: people who serve others and who act on the God-given opportunities around us every day.

All too often, it seems our emotions revolve around feeling not “good enough,” or feeling that we don’t have what it takes to . . . (you fill in the rest of this sentence). We may become defeated by our situations, the criticisms of others, and by life in general. We are expected to lead, and yet, we feel inadequate, perhaps thinking that we need to follow someone else’s model of exactly how we should lead. In short, we do not recognize and use the unique talents that enable each of us to serve God and others with joy and peace.

The truth is that we are specifically created with certain talents, abilities, and strengths. The way we live out our strengths allows us to fully participate in the kingdom of God and fulfill the purpose He has for our lives. The apostle Paul reminds us of our unique contributions in his letters to the Corinthians.

Read I Corinthians 12:14-20.

This enrichment unit will help you identify, reframe, develop, and live out your personal strengths in ways that help you be an effective leader. Building on the research and writings of Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton, Tom Rath, and others, we will learn how to examine leadership through a strengths perspective. 

In this unit, we will explore:

·  a biblical perspective on using strengths in leadership

·  understanding and developing your unique strengths

·  recognizing strengths in others

·  leading with your strengths


Recommended Resources

Buckingham, Marcus. Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009.

Buckingham, Marcus, and Clifton, Donald O. Now, Discover Your Strengths. NY: The Free Press, 2001.

Clifton, Donald O., and Anderson, Edward “Chip.” “Developing Leadership Strengths.” Article written for The Gallup Organization, 2004. http://www.apu.edu/strengthsacademy/pdfs/developing_leadership_strengths_in_college.pdf.

Clifton, Donald O., Anderson, Edward “Chip,” and Schreiner, Laurie A. StrengthsQuest: Discover and Develop Your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond. NY: Gallup Press, 2006.

Rath, Tom and Conchie, Barry. Strengths Based Leadership. NY: Gallup Press, 2008.

Winseman, Albert L., Clifton, Donald O., and Liesveld, Curt. Living Your Strengths. Washington, DC: Gallup Organization, 2003.


About the Author

SHERI PHILLIPS serves as Vice President for Student Development at Evangel University, Springfield, MO. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Evangel, a master’s degree in counseling at Wheaton College, and a PhD in higher education at Azusa Pacific University. She has been an active proponent of strengths-based education for many years.



“Developing Your Strengths” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, ©2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.