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Jimmy Evans - Understanding Strengths

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Jimmy Evans - Understanding Strengths
Jimmy Evans - Understanding Strengths

So if you're like me, you're probably wondering to some degree, why does this strengths thing matter to me? I mean, you're saying that it could help our marriage, I get that, but you got to sell me first, and I'm right there with you. Part of what I truly value is this idea of bringing the sciences and the things we can prove up to stand underneath our theology and the things that we believe. And so do you know why it matters to you? Because God said that you are his handiwork. This is what Ephesians 2:10 says, you are his handiwork, made in Christ Jesus for good works, which he prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

So let's just unpack that for a second, because this scripture, I'm telling you, this scripture, it reveals God's intent for you and I. We are his handiwork. That's the Greek word poiema, it literally means masterpiece. It's the idea that God spent three and a half years just working on the bridge of your nose to make it exactly right, and when he stood back and looked at the picture and just really felt comfortable about how it looked, he just broke the brushes, tossed them aside, slid the easel over, got a new one, and started all over again. This concept that we are his handiwork, his masterpiece, means that, it's like you and I, we are the Mona Lisa. I mean, think about that. There's only one of you, and it is so ridiculously rare, it's irreplaceable. I mean the value of that is, it's without compare.

So we are his handiwork, and then he says that there is this place where our Christian-ness, our build, our creation, has its rightful place, and it's in Christ Jesus. And then it comes, and that we are made for good works, which he prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. So how do we get made for good works, and what does that even look like? Are we really set up for success in the world, and if God is saying so, then alright, maybe I dare to believe that. Maybe I take him at his word. After all, isn't that what the Bible says, that without faith it's impossible to please him? So yeah, alright, I'll step out in faith and I'll believe that you say that I am a masterpiece and I have something unbelievably important to contribute to the world, how am I supposed to find that out?

Well it's a great question. The University of Nebraska was involved in one of these assessments really early, and in the mid-50s, this university invited the dean of the psychology department to do an assessment on all the freshman students that year to see how well they would read, and the main issue was we want to test and read, and maintain or retain your reading at an 80% level, and most of the students were reading about 90 words a minute. So I have an example over here that I want to show you. So 90 words a minute's about a half or a third of a page, and retaining 80% of what they've read. Now in this jar right here are 90 M&Ms. So you get a sense of how fast they're reading. Reading 90 words a minute, retaining 80% of what they've read. Then there was another group of people who were reading and could read a little bit faster, they were retaining 350 words a minute, or getting to remember and process 350 words a minute.

Really good starting point, but then the psychologists decided we want to put all these students through a speed reading course and test them again at the end and see how they do. And so they trained them for six weeks, all of them, the entire freshman class. And then got to the end, and processed them again through a speed reading assessment to see how fast they could read, and if they were still remembering 80% of what they had read. The results were fascinating. These students who had read 90 words a minute improved to 140 words a minute. Now you can see, there's a few more M&Ms in here, and remember, they're still remembering 80% of what they've read. But the students who were reading 350 words a minute, which is what's in this jar right here, you're not even ready for how much they improved. They didn't just go up a little bit, look at this, look at this. They went up to almost 3,000 words a minute.

Do you have any idea how many pages that is? It means they're reading this page and this page right here. They're reading this page and this page. Then they're taking that one and this one too. And this one, and this one right here also, and this one and that one, and remembering 80% of what they've read. Now if you're like me, you're probably thinking, "This is ridiculous, I want that speed reading course. That is going to make a huge difference in my life". And the problem is, you and I fell in the same trap. We believe that the effect of my retention, this amazing reading capacity, is directly related to the training, to the speed reading courses, and it's not, see. Because all of the students, all four of them, got all of the training. And so it's not the training that does the trick. It's the fact that those students showed up reading 350 words a minute in the very first place.

You have remarkable talent. You have remarkable talent, and you ought to go find out what it is, because, like God said in Ephesians 2:10, it sets you up for success. Not just success, ridiculous capacity. This is how God designed us. We have a reflection of who he is. We're made in his image, right? That's what Genesis says, we're made in his image. So if I have these remarkable abilities, it's because he has them. I mean, if I have arms, it's because he has arms. If I have a brain, it's because he has a brain. If I have remarkable talent, it's because God has invested in you and I ridiculous talent. And the problem with you and I is, we just don't know. We have no idea we have it, and so we've got to find out.

Well, so this enters a new idea for us that's worth considering, and it's this idea that we cannot see ourselves. I mean, what do you have to have, what do you have to have in order to see yourself? If you're like me, you're thinking, "Okay, I got to have a mirror, I get that". And if you want to see the whole you before you're going out, like if you're getting all dressed up, and you really want to look sharp, and you want to see the whole you, what do you have to have? If you want to see the full picture, what do you have to have? Right, you have to have a full-length mirror. That's the only way you can see all of yourself. I can see pieces of me at a time, but I can't see the whole me. I have to have something or someone else other than me outside of me, to reflect back to me the full image of who I am.

This is true, this is designed by God this way, and I think it emphasizes why we need each other, and it emphasizes why we need an assessment of sorts like this strengths test that helps you see yourself and where you are fantastic, because you can't see it by yourself. We can see it in each other, that's why community's so important, but we need this mirror. And so the strengths assessment is just a mirror. In and of itself, it has no power. But once you understand the ridiculous capacity, the once in a lifetime ability, the irreplaceable unique investment that God has made in your life and mind, and you come to grips with reality that that's truly in me, and it's just gonna stay there and probably operate at a 350 words a minute kind of power for the rest of my life, even if I don't do anything about it, then that's good, right? It sort of sets you up for success. I mean, 350's better than 90 or 140.

So you've got an advantage over some of the other folks around you, but it's not completely world class yet. If you want world class, you got to add yourself to what God is investing in you. You got to do something with what you've been given. You've got to put some skills, some experience, some knowledge against those latent capacities that God has invested in you in order to be able to get world-class performance out of it, I mean come on. Nearly 3,000 words a minute, that's ridiculous. I want that, and every one of us have this ability. Some of us used to think it was only the rare few, but I'm telling you, we all have this remarkable ability to be able to give away something world class and unique to the world. Just how world class or unique is it?

Well this strengths assessment that was created by Gallup, the Strengths Finder Assessment, reveals your top five strengths. And the five are important because it gives you an opportunity to focus on the best of who you are. Now, I want to ask you, if you could find somebody else who had the same five strengths as I do, in the same order, how many people do you think you'd have to talk to to find that person? Someone who's got the same five strengths as mine in exactly the same sequence, because the sequence matters. Do you know that the answer to that is one in 33 million people? One in 33 million people. That means according to the world population being about 7.6 billion people at present, there's roughly 200 of us on the planet today.

If you think that's good, wait, we're not done yet. What about if we went to top six? I mean realistically, you're using your top six or seven, eight strengths on a regular basis. Gallup just cut it off at number five because it's a marketing exercise, and they would love for you to buy the rest of them, and there is some value in knowing the rest of them, but your top five are really the most important. But what if we went to number six? How many people would you have to talk to to find one person who had the same six strengths as me? You know what the answer is? One billion, one billion. That means there's seven of you on the planet. You want to do eight? Come on, let's do eight. Do you know how many people you would have to talk to to find one person who might have statistically the same eight strengths as you? It's over 700 billion people, with a B.

Listen people, this is what I'm telling you. God has remarkably and ridiculously invested his own capacity in your life, in shades that you can reflect to the people around you every day, and the only reason you aren't able to reveal that kind of power on the world these days, is because you don't know. We need help, we got to find out. And so I want to invite you into this journey. I hope you've seen from this scientific explanation that there is more to you than you suspect, and if you will come with us and discover how wonderfully God has made you, you will be blown away at what a difference it makes to your life and to the life of your marriage.

Allan Kelsey: If you're just tuning in, welcome to Strengths Based Marriage. We have a guest couple with us today. Let's have a look at how their strengths influence their marriage.

Today's couple is Kyle Windebank and Mary Fox from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Kyle's top five strengths are restorative, context, learner, command, and intellection. Mary's top five strengths are positivity, relator, arranger, harmony, and communication.

Allan Kelsey: Well I'm Allan Kelsey and this is Jimmy Evans. We are the co-authors of Strengths Based Marriage, and we're so excited to spend some time today with Kyle and Mary. God, I mean you guys traveled a good distance to come here today. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Kyle Windebank: Of course, thanks for having us.

Allan Kelsey: For our viewing audience, why don't you just give us a little bit about what you do and what your marital status is, and just a snapshot of the pair of you.

Mary Fox: Yeah, so currently we're engaged. Getting married about three weeks from now.

Allan Kelsey: Wait, so you're not married yet?

Mary Fox: Not married yet.

Allan Kelsey: We got a fresh set right here.

Jimmy Evans: Oh wow, we love it.

Mary Fox: Yeah, so three weeks, we're both currently in the Springs. We are working and moving forward and preparing for marriage.

Allan Kelsey: Yeah.

Jimmy Evans: I did a lot of pre-marriage counseling when I first came in the ministry. You guys are so wise to slow down and prepare yourselves before you get married. Because first of all, it just is gonna save you a lot of heartache that you would have gone through, and secondly, you're just gonna have success and blessings because of that, because you're prepared. And you don't know your strengths.

Kyle Windebank: Not yet.

Allan Kelsey: Yeah that's right, you haven't even had a chance to look at each other's or to know what they are yet. So why don't we start with that? Should we just get in and kind of talk about them? Alright, ladies first.

Mary Fox: Okay.

Allan Kelsey: So you ready, Mary? I'm about to reveal to you, or really to Kyle, because you know what yours are. So her number one strength is positivity. Which means that she kind of has this tendency to look at the glass half full you know, not half empty. So that's a very positive outlook for life, but it also has, it has an implication, which means she needs a positive environment, and if she finds one that's not that kind of positive, she'll work really hard to convert it so that there's hope in the room, but if after a length of time she can't get the room converted, she'll leave. I mean it's that big of a deal. It's that much of a filter for her. She has to have a positive environment.

Next one is relator, so she loves one-on-one relationships, loves deep, meaningful conversation. I'll give you a hint here. Relators love to have eye-to-eye contact when you're communicating. If you mess around with your phone while you're talking to her, oh, I'm telling you. You're liable to get a little over it.

Alright, number three is arranger. So your arranger is just the idea that you intuitively know how the pieces fit together, and you have a sense of what will work best for that particular mix. If I take one out and put another one in, then you mix it differently because that's a different mix of things. And so it works for people and it works for stuff. She's just naturally good at arranging.

And then the fourth is harmony, which means that you are, you just will make room for others, and you'll make adjustment even if it costs you a little something in order to make it so that everybody can get along, and you really value community, unity, people thinking and working together. So you're a very natural team builder, which is wonderful.

And then the last is communication. So she loves to be able to communicate. In this regard, I have a question for you then, Mary. Communication is both written and spoken. Which is your preference, and if it's both, can you split them up like 60/40, 20/10? How would you do it?

Mary Fox: First initial thought is 100% verbal, spoken.

Allan Kelsey: Speaking, yes.

Mary Fox: I appreciate more of that side of communication verse written, though I have an appreciation, and overall it's probably like a 80 spoken, 20 written.

Allan Kelsey: Yeah.

Mary Fox: Yeah.

Allan Kelsey: So is there any of this that you find confirming in the way that you know her to be?

Kyle Windebank: For sure, I think her positivity is something that jumps out, definitely. As I have viewed our relationship as a very positive person, ready to jump into a situation, and you know, like you were saying, make the glass half full for sure, so.

Jimmy Evans: I think it's a phenomenal strength to have as number one. Sometimes what can happen in a marriage is that we look at our spouses strengths, and we think well Mary's just naive, she's always positive. So I need to give the balance of that and tell her Armageddon's next week. You really need to get some negative in here, because bad things are coming. I'm not saying you're doing that today. I'm saying after 10 or 15 years of marriage, sometimes the positivity can wear on you, and the point being, she's wired that way from birth. And so she's not gonna be that way today. She's gonna be that way 50 years from now. When y'all are celebrating your golden anniversary 50 years from now. My wife and I, you know, we're the same as we were when we were 19 years old, our general strengths. So I think it's a fantastic strength.

Allan Kelsey: Okay Mary, are you ready to hear about this man you're about to marry?

Mary Fox: I am.

Allan Kelsey: Okay. So number one, he starts with restorative, which means he can look at people or things and has this intuitive sense of how to bring the former glory back. Like there might be something missing, and he knows how to repair it, and he has the motivation to see that happen.

Then next is context, which means that you have, you have just as much interest in how we got here as where we're going, and you just bring kind of past experiences into present conversation because for you, it's a very relevant contributor to today's you know, kind of experiences.

You have learner at number three, which means you have this persistent curiosity about a wide range of things, which is great.

Kyle, then you have command, which is a very strong leadership kind of a gift. It's a gift that brings very natural structure and order to things or people, and you have a good sense of how to lead a company, not just a crowd. So I think that that's a good insight to have.

And then the last one is intellection, which means the gears are always turning. That hard drive upstairs is always running, and you might come across him from time to time staring out of a window, and you're wondering what he's looking at, and he's not looking at the window. He's off somewhere else in his head kind of postulating and measuring things, and you might wonder like, is he even here? Like, what's happening? I don't know. But it's a wonderful strength, because what you digest and what you ruminate on creates wonderful product in the end of it. So is there anything surprising or confirming then, for you Mary, as you think about what you've just heard for him?

Mary Fox: I would say not surprising. A lot of what you're saying defines who he is. Now it just puts words to things I've observed about him. So like restorative, he always sees projects and wants to work with his hands, or he always is reading, which is great, I love that. So he reads all these books at night, late into the night, and then he comes, "This is what I'm reading about". What was it, Malcolm X, that was his last book he read about, and we talked, we had a car ride, and he talked all about it, and I was like, "Yeah, I don't mind learning, it's fun". Command makes total sense, and then the one where's he's thinking in his brain, that totally makes sense. Where we're having a conversation sometimes, and I can see the gears kind of rolling in his brain. It totally makes sense.

Allan Kelsey: Alright, so when I put these two together, okay, because this is like soup now. All these ingredients are about to go into one container, and we're gonna see what comes out of all of that. I'm aware, because of the strengths that the two of you have, that there may be an opportunity for misunderstanding. Just if you default to your natural position. Now I'm not painting doom and gloom for your marriage, what I'm saying is, I think there's opportunity here for you to avoid pain in the future by knowing each other in a more deep kind of way. So Mary, you have communication, which means that the distance between your thought and what you say is really short, and it's very clear. So what you say is genuinely what you think, and so it just really easily comes out.

Mary Fox: Yeah.

Allan Kelsey: Kyle, you have restorative, which means that you inherently have an ability to see what's not there or what's missing and want to bring it so that you can restore the thing, make it as beautiful as it was all along. But both of these two strengths lend themselves to elements of being misunderstood, for different reasons that we probably don't have time to get involved with right now, but if you'll just take my word for it, it is often true. Hers being misunderstood because she is, she transects on the value of the words. Like, because what she thinks and what she says is so close, like those are the same thing, she takes what's said as being at face value. So, that must be what the people are thinking, whereas that's not always the case with the rest of us, we know that. You on the other hand, are so accustomed to seeing what's not there, you look for it in dialogue also. So you look for it in communication, and so you often wonder, like, "What else is there that's not being said"? And so I just see potentially you guys not being understood with each other at times. Talk to me a little bit about your dialogue and the quality of how you feel you communicate.

Mary Fox: Yeah, I would agree, and I would say, like what you're communicating happens sometimes, but what we've learned to do is if I'm verbally processing or just saying what's coming out in my thoughts, I just tell Kyle, "Hey this is just what I'm thinking right now, it's not a set thought, it's not where I'm landing at this moment". It's just my verbal process to try to get where he's already at, or some of the missing parts I'm trying to communicate that.

Jimmy Evans: As you guys are sitting here, what I'm thinking is this. You could flood him with words, right? You ever feel that way?

Kyle Windebank: It's happened, yeah.

Jimmy Evans: Well, and so what happens is one of her deepest needs, a woman's deepest needs, is for open and honest communication. And so when you're communicating with her, she doesn't just want information, she wants emotion.

Allan Kelsey: Kyle and Mary, it was such a joy being able to spend time with you today. We've really just gotten to unpack some of the elements of your strengths and how they play into each other, but we're excited about you guys getting married and what the future holds, and you being able to balance your strengths with each other and move on to a powerful, long-lasting marriage. Thanks for joining us today.

Mary Fox: Thank you so much.

Kyle Windebank: Thank you.

Jimmy Evans: I love to see stories like that. That's why we do what we do, and an example of the impact these powerful resources can have on your marriage.

Allan Kelsey: Yeah, for example, maybe your number one strength is empathy, and your spouse's strength is to be restorative. Being aware of that is so important, because it will help you to understand how each of you think. Because while someone who is empathetic will feel what others are feeling, a restorative spouse will see a problem and try to fix it. They both want there to be resolution and understanding, peace and growth, but their perspectives are completely opposite, and if misunderstood by each other, can be cause for some really heated discussion.

Allan Kelsey: But trust me, no matter what situation you're in, your marriage can thrive in every area, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And we wanna help you experience that today, so request your Strengths Based Marriage resources with your gift, and discover the principles you need, to see yourself, your spouse, and your marriage in a new amazing way.
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