The other day I dumped a forgotten bucketful of damp rags into the washer, and they smelled like crazy. The same can be true of our strengths. Left unchecked, they take on a foul odor.    

One of my leadership strengths is vision. I readily see into the future and have lots of ideas about how things can be improved. But God showed me how being visionary can run amuck when I’m in the flesh. Here’s the story—

My husband and I had to euthanize our dog, Maddy – the “dog of a lifetime” for both of us. The appointment was made, and the vet’s staff provided sufficient information. But still, I found myself picturing how it would go (aka worrying). Would they take their time with Maddy? Would she feel pain? Would we be crying our eyeballs out? In the midst of those thoughts, I sensed the Lord saying, “I’m not there yet.” In other words, “Stop thinking ahead, Lisa. Stay with Me here in this moment. I’ll be with you in that moment too.” And of course He was.

God’s words gave me new insight into my visionary gifting. As helpful as it is for picturing possibilities to advance the ministry, when I’m not in sync with God’s Spirit, I start picturing problems.

How about you? What are your strengths, and how do they play out when you’re not in tune with the Lord?

Do you see yourself in this list of strengths with stench?

1. If you’re gifted at management, do you ever become over-controlling?

2. If you usually see the bright side, do you sometimes underestimate bonafide difficulties?

3. If you’re gifted as a teacher, do you ever discuss details ad nauseam?

4. If you’re strategic, do you find yourself giving input when it’s not in your area of oversight?

5. If you’re good with words, do you tend to monopolize conversations?

If your particular strengths weren’t in the list, jot them down and play out the carnal version. And think about its negative impact on both you and others.  

How to Keep Your Strengths in Check

1. Be sensitive to the Spirit. Ask God to alert you when you operate in your strength outside of His grace. Have a humble, prayerful heart – listening to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and cautions. 

2. Keep your identity in Christ. It’s tempting to take stock in our gifting, since it’s something we’re known for and applauded for. But it’s far better to bank on our security in Christ, as blood-bought children of our heavenly Father.

3. Stay aware of others. Moving in our strengths is easy. So easy, we can motor right over others and their giftings. Let’s heed Paul’s admonition to “count others more significant” than ourselves (Phil. 2:3 ESV).

But thanks be to God,

who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession,

and through us spreads the fragrance

 of the knowledge of him everywhere.

2 Cor. 2:14 ESV

“Self-driven strengths can be a stench to others. God-given strengths, when yielded to Christ, are a fragrant blessing.”

- Lisa Hosler

In the Comment Section below, describe how one of your strengths gets off-kilter when you’re in the flesh.

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