Horses for Courses
Years ago, I used to come up with a duty managers rota within a health club I ran. I had included on the rota our Membership Sales Manager, who was called Claire (no, not my wife Claire, but another Claire entirely!). When she saw the rota, Claire (who was a great salesperson) tried to persuade me to take her off the rota on the basis along the lines of this - “I don’t mind being on the rota…. But wouldn’t you rather I spent my time doing what I’m good at – selling memberships?”
Like I say she was a great salesperson! I smiled and said something like “Nice try Claire – but you’re on the rota along with me and everyone else!” However, Claire’s argument really made me think, and it reminded me of something I’d heard former head of GB Athletics, Frank Dick, say at a conference. At the time, he was the best speaker I’d ever heard and he passionately argued the case that people should work not on their weaknesses but their strengths.
This was counter-intuitive for me at the time – surely, we should work on our weaknesses? Frank’s argument – and Claire’s – were the same. In the context of a team, it’s best to have your players working specifically on the role that they’re really great at. As a simple example of why this is so, imagine you are the manager of the England football team. You wouldn’t suggest that Harry Kane spend time working on his goalkeeping, now would you? Quite rightly you’d want him focussed on honing his already brilliant skills as a goalscorer!
Frank Dick argued that the only time you should have people work on their weaknesses was when their weaknesses were having a negative effect on the team.
Frank Dick, O.B.E
Now… here’s what I realised as I wrestled with this idea of working on your strengths versus working on your weakness. Frank Dick (and Claire) were arguing from the perspective of a TEAM benefit, not an individual benefit. Also, they were talking about working on professional and sporting skills – not about working on our personal character.
So whilst I came to agree that they were right in what they were saying, it remains true that on a personal character level, we should certainly try to identify and work on our weaknesses. Work on your weaknesses, but play to your strengths – that’s the way I like to put it.
In church life, I have the awesome privilege of having large numbers of people making themselves available to help in innumerable ways in the running of EBC and its ministries. They’re wonderful – and thank you all!
I’ve always tried to stick to my philosophy of “horses for courses” – that is, choosing the right person to do the job that they are just great at, but gently steering them away from other things that someone else is more suited to.
In that scenario, I’d definitely encourage people to work on those things they are gifted and anointed in – and to try to spot and nurture the potential for growth in those who have it!
But when it comes to our own personal, spiritual development – in our quiet times alone with our own soul and with God… that’s the time to take a check on our character – and with God’s help set about making the improvements we know in our heart we need to. In a team situation, your weakness may never show or matter – because someone else has got you covered. In the individual medley of life, however, we need to guard our hearts and – whilst playing to our strengths (and to God be the glory for them!) – we should be working on those weaknesses. Be assured, God will be on your side and in Jesus has already covered the sins you and he both know about.
Can I encourage you, as you ponder this, to think about signing up this Sunday morning for the fantastic prayer course (created by pastor Pete Greig) that we are running across EBC? There will be an opportunity to do this in life groups or centrally at the church, where Rob Lea and Jacque Childs have just completed running the course for our entire Leadership Team.
I asked Rob and Jacque to lead this course on the basis of “horses for courses” – I know they are passionate about prayer and were just the right people for the job! Whether prayer is a weakness for you or not, let me tell you, this a fantastic course and one you’d be daft to miss out on.
This Sunday morning, Rob will be starting a new series called “Sing A New Song”. It fits perfectly with the prayer course and I’m really excited about what God might do over the next few weeks. Let me encourage you to come along – it’s a course worth running!
See you in church!