The bottom line: An unsuccessful attempt to stuff faith-based productivity into the StrengthsFinder model.
Living Your Strengths is the ‘Christian version’ of the acclaimed StrengthsFinder 2.0. The bottom line is that if you have read SF 2.0 or Strengths Based Leadership (the ‘executive version’) then in my humble opinion, you have absolutely no need to buy this book.
A brand new book gives you access to the StrengthsFinder online assessment, which computes your top five “themes” or those natural, born-with-it talents that you productively apply the best. The book then claims that it will reveal to you how you can leverage your innate gifts to build up the church, Christian communities, and faith-based groups.
Ultimately, Living Your Strengths does not accomplish what it sets out to do because (1) at its core, it does not draw a clear map of how people with specific gifts can engage their communities in specific, meaningful ways. (2) It fails to make a plausible connection between how the spiritually committed can enrich their faith communities; instead it offers superficial advice on how devoted people may add to groups in general.
Living Your Strengths is not a book that you read cover to cover. Rather, after getting through the introductory material, you will tend to focus only on those talents that apply to you. Chapter 4 has a 1-2 page analysis of each theme that gives you (i) a paragraph long description of your talent (ii) Bible verses that relate to your talent (iii) action items that will help you better understand your talent. Chapter 5 then details about a dozen action items that you can employ in your personal life and your faith community for growth and service. Chapter 5 is where the potential “money is” in that it has the greatest prospects for actionable guidance. What you are left with, however, is “advice” that largely equates to common sense and things that you could easily think of on your own. For example for one of my themes (Futuristic), one suggestion was to talk to other people in my church about the future or read the Bible and pay attention to when it talks about the future (pg. 187).
Moreover, this book feels forced. It seems like a marketer was looking for another segment to sell an additional StrengthsFinder book to, and this was the result.
There is no legitimate connection between the themes and work in faith communities other than offering some Bible verses and general advice that is equally applicable in secular vocations. I can’t read God’s mind, but I sincerely doubt, for example, He had the “Intellection” theme in mind when He inspired the writing of Luke 2:46-47 (pg. 117).
What this book does manage to do well is open your eyes to what you should be doing in your faith community: that is, scaling up what you do best and not fussing over your weaknesses (that’s what teams and delegation are for). Again, this is a point more clearly explicated in StrengthFinder 2.0 and Strengths Based Leadership.
In closing, a word of advice to all potential buyers: Unless you have already taken a StrengthsFinder quiz and know your dominant themes, you must buy this book new. A new book comes with an exclusive one-time access code in the back that unlocks an online survey. Your unique survey results will then calculate what your strengths are, so that you can get the most value out of Living Your Strengths, however small that may be.