5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Discover What You Were MADE to Do
What do you really love to do? I mean REALLY love?
If you’re anything like me, that question provokes thoughts, not necessarily of roles or positions, but of specific moments. Moments in time when you felt alive. Experiences that you would love to relive again. Tasks where time seemed nonexistent. Hours passed as minutes.
This is an idea that I’m processing currently. Most of the time people introduce ideas once they are solidified in their mind. That’s not the case here. I’m still marinating, but here is where I am (at least right now …).
The Strengths movement ushered in by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton has brought questions like this to the surface more now than ever. It’s an important question for us each to answer. Finding our sweet spot makes us both happier and more productive, which benefits both our organization and us. We should be more successful working out of something we love. Eventually, we might even find the perfect seat on Jim Collin’s Good to Great bus. Feels like we are building to an inspirational “never work another day in your life” quote, huh?
But how do you discover what you really love to do? Most people consider positions, roles or jobs they enjoyed, but what you LOVE to do might not necessarily be defined by a position, role or job. Obviously, this can make identifying your sweet spot difficult. When we attempt to define what we love to do by only evaluating roles we’ve had in the past, we can miss out on great opportunities that may come in the future. We become narrowly focused. Industry focused. Job-type focused.
Here is an example from my own life:
I love preaching. The Sundays I preach are always highlight Sundays for me. I wake up more excited. I’m actually excited all week. I feel better—mentally and physically. My wit is quicker. I’m sharper. More focused. AND … people seem to enjoy me preaching. Our church consistently comments positively on my preaching and asks when I’m preaching again (we’re primarily a video venue, hence I only preach about 12-15 times a year). So it would be easy for me to believe a seat on a preaching bus is one of my unique abilities. Therefore, it would be logical to conclude the next step in my career is to leave the role of campus pastor and take on a teaching pastor or senior pastor role. After all, that’s what I love to do.
But, what if my unique ability isn’t to preach? What if preaching is only an execution of an ability, and the ability is what makes me unique (i.e., not the preaching—execution of skill vs. skill itself). My point: It stands to reason that identifying the skill, ability and passion below the surface of the task might uncover what we really LOVE to do even more than the task itself.
Back to my example. After much introspection, I’ve learned what I love more than anything is finding creative solutions to problems. I’ve always been drawn toward creative endeavors. I was even voted “Most Creative” in high school. I was a newspaper cartoonist in college. And now I love preaching. What’s the common thread? Not a specific role or industry (obviously), but a passion, skill and unique ability: creative problem solver. Problem solving is ultimately what preaching is about. Great preachers are able to take Scripture, evaluate, analyze and discover interesting angles, and wrap it around an easy, yet powerful application. Do you know what that takes? The skill of problem solving. Sure, it takes other skills and even some education, but at the core of great preaching is great problem solving.
In hindsight, problem solving is something that I’ve always loved. I worked in the marketplace as a business consultant for a decade before ministry. My first church staff position was running a middle school ministry in a church plant, which was a problem to solve. My first lead pastor role was at Watermarke Church (where I serve now), a church in need of a significant turn-around. Another massive problem to solve. I often spend time now with church leaders talking shop and helping them solve their problems. I love it! Every position in my life, from cartoonist to consultant to church cultural architect, has been based on one thing: creative problem solving.
What I’ve learned is when it comes to discovering unique abilities, skills and passions, we can’t only pay attention to jobs we loved. Jobs are executions of what God has uniquely made us to do. It’s the skills that made us successful in those jobs. And discovering our underlying abilities opens up a wealth of possible (job, role, position) opportunities.