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From Potential to Purpose: Harnessing Your Strengths

Tatum Deborah 2014


By Debbie Tatum

Northwest Indiana Catholic guest columnist


      Bishop Donald J.Hying recently gave staff at the Pastoral Center a copy of Matthew Kelly’s book “Resisting Happiness.”  I read only the first few pages of the chapter entitled “Resistance” before immediately grabbing my laptop to record some thoughts for this column.

      Kelly opens by describing hearing the morning alarm and having to make that groggy decision whether to get up or hit the snooze button and roll over. 

      Resistance. That’s a battle many of us face every single day. One battle of resistance for me comes in the form of the schedule our esteemed editor provides our guest columnists each year. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love to write. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do so in this forum, but it’s sometimes difficult to face down that first blank page when a deadline is looming.

      I’d venture to guess we all occasionally have those “snooze button” or “blank page” moments. How do we push through the temptation to resist doing what we know is ultimately best for us?

      As always, I refer back to strengths.  Since “up-and-at-‘em” isn’t a strength of mine, I have to rely on the gifts God has given me: Connectedness, Empathy, Input, Individualization, and Maximizer. Because those high in Connectedness have the natural inclination to be open to forming relationships between people or events, and those with the gift of Input carry the innate drive to collect things (I collect information), I am able to recognize topics of general interest that I can flesh out into a column.

      I immediately record the topic and any initial relative thoughts so that I have something (anything!) on the page well before the deadline.  Later, the Maximizer in me is perfectly suited to take what exists (a rough idea in half sentences) and make it into a full-fledged column by the deadline. 

      It works for me, and it helps me overcome the initial resistance that might impede my progress each time a deadline approaches. Of course this isn’t the writing process that works for everyone, but it is in line with my particular strengths, and it helps me through the “blank page” moment of resistance.

      I’m finishing this column on the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord. An epiphany is a revelation. God reveals God’s plan for our role in the salvation of the world to each of us through our own unique strengths and talents. We cooperate with that divine plan when we discover those strengths and then use them for the benefit of others. 

      “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” (Is 60:1)Perhaps you are resistant to learning how your gifts and talents fit with the mission of your parish, your diocese and the whole world. It can seem daunting to consider that you are indeed a critical part of God’s plan. But when you are operating consistently from within your top strengths, you will find you are walking in that light Isaiah promised Jerusalem.

      Instead of a resolution in 2017, why not focus on a revelation? Which of your God-given strengths can you employ to overcome resistance?  What strength can you rely on to move from good to great, from simply “being” to becoming the very best version of you?

       Pick up a copy of “Living Your Strengths” and intentionally invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to you your personal role in the Church’s mission. Whether you’re an “up-and-at-‘em” Activator or a discerning Deliberative, learning your strengths will provide insight and guidance all along the journey. Empower yourself to find the fullness of the person God created you to be!


     Debbie is the director of Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Gary, and a Gallup-trained Strengths Coach. Her top 5 Strengths are Connectedness, Empathy, Input, Individualization, and Maximizer. You can reach Debbie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 219-769-9292 x 268.

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