The value of assessments

There are times when we get stuck because we’re lacking a piece of the puzzle. Why can’t this person and I get on the same page? What’s keeping me from tackling that task that never drops off my to-do list? Why does my work feel so overwhelming or confining?

These are situations in which an assessment could help. Assessments help us better understand aspects of our personality, habits, and approach to relationships. With this new awareness, we are more equipped to lean into our strengths, read rooms, develop systems that compensate for our weaknesses, and surround ourselves with people whose skills provide the yen to our yang.

A lot of ministers are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (which was my first introduction to assessments), the Enneagram (which I’m still learning about), and Prepare-Enrich (which many regard as the go-to for counseling couples before and after marriage). Here are some others I really like:

Core Values Index. In this 10-minute assessment takers identify 72 words that best describe them. The combination of words chosen reveals the taker’s innate nature and primary motivators. This test helped me understand how two very disparate parts of my personality and work preferences relate to one another. (A free version of the test is available here.)

Mindframes. This free test is based in neuroscience. It assesses which parts of the brain the taker operates out of most frequently for thinking and doing. Mindframes uses this information to identify how the taker’s brain processes information most efficiently. This test showed me my preferences so that I could capitalize on those strengths – and it revealed which areas of the brain I need to access when the situation calls for a perspective shift.

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. This assessment measures how much the taker uses each of five approaches to conflict. It’s useful for identifying conflict-handling modes the taker might want to utilize more or less often. It is also helpful in team work for helping the members understand one another’s conflict style.

5 Love Languages. This might sound like an odd addition to this list, since the 5 love languages are primarily used for relationships with loved ones. I have found it useful in ministry, though, for pinpointing how to relate with others more effectively, particularly in pastoral care or shared leadership.

Learning styles inventory. This free assessment is geared toward educators so that they can strategize how to communicate best with their students. I have found it helpful for realizing that I remember best information presented to me visually. The test also reminds me to utilize other learning styles when working with others.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but I hope these assessments provide some pathways to deeper understanding of self and others. Your results can be a great jumping-off point for coaching – now that I know this about myself, what do I do with this information? – so contact me if you’d like to explore that possibility.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash.

Becoming resilient

Resilience is perhaps the most underrated but necessary trait of a pastoral leader. Think about it. We’re supposed to shepherd our people as the world becomes both more connected and fractious, as expectations for clergy grow but respect for ministers ebbs, and as the bar for “active” church involvement keeps getting lowered. Resilience is what keeps us plugging along in the name of Christ when we’d rather binge-watch Netflix and eat our feelings.

Creative Commons "SnowFlowers-4" by nelgdev is licensed under CC 2.0.
Creative Commons “SnowFlowers-4” by nelgdev is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

An article from Faith & Leadership describes resilience as “a kind of lived hope, a way to keep getting up again that has its roots in God’s permanent faithfulness” (C. Kavin Rowe, “Cultivating resilience in Christ-shaped leaders,” 4/23/12). It is not synonymous with toughness, which often results in bottling up our feelings and cutting ourselves off from others. It is also not a denial of difficulty. Instead, resilience is a recognition that God is at always at work, bringing us ever closer in ways that are both now and not yet realities.

So what prompts greater resilience? Consider these questions:

  • What does resilience look like for you?
  • What do you need to let go of to become more resilient?
  • What resources do you need – skills, support, etc. – to be more resilient? Where do you find these resources?
  • How do you point others toward resilience, since resilience is a community endeavor?

When we are more resilient, we are healthier emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We are also more able to tell and hear truth, making relationships stronger and congregations more prepared and eager to engage with the world beyond the parking lot.