It has taken me fifteen years, but I finally have found a way to help Christians and Christian leaders to discover the whole of who they are, from baseline personality to powerful spiritual gifts…from underlying motivational needs even to gift liabilities! But first, the background….
In 1986, I started developing ways for lay Christians to discover and fulfill their God-designed roles in or beyond the local church. The Mobilizing Spiritual Gifts series was the result of that eight-year effort, with the title of one of my workbooks telling the story: “Getting Your Gifts in Gear.” Organic body life began for many Christians and churches, with many believers discovering and playing their God-prepared parts for the first time.
But by the mid 1990’s it was very clear that thousands of Christian leaders were the ones blocking the door to effective lay mobilization. So I started doing teambuilding seminars with ministry teams to help those leaders build strong teams by first understanding the ministry identities of their players. As they first became good stewards of their own gifts, leaders also became more intentional in equipping and releasing others to play their gifted parts. They became good stewards of “who we are.”
Many leaders quit worrying about how to be a “visionary leader” and got back to the biblical business of equipping and releasing the saints for the work of ministry. The workbook Discovering Your Ministry Identity (DYMI) has become a strategic resource for helping leaders to assess themselves and their team members in six different areas – Spiritual Gifts, Team Style, Body Building Roles, Vital Values, Ministry Burden & Passion – and therein discover how “who I am affects who we are.” For Body Life to function, its dependence is upon every person playing his or her part.
But I continued to be incredibly frustrated with leaders beyond training effective lay mobilization and intentional teambuilding. Then, in 1999, I got to the heart of why many leaders were not equipping and releasing others: the majority of leaders (as high as 70%) do not clearly understand who they are in Christ! Many were never trained to be good stewards of their gifts. It was out of this frustration that I developed Your Leadership Grip, a workbook that gives the Christian leader a chance to identify his or her spiritual gifts from three different angles. In addition, the leader is also able to identify where he/she is weak and who he needs alongside to make him/her (and them) stronger as a team.
The Whole Grip-Birkman
But one more piece yet needed to be fit into helping people discover their God-designed blueprint for living at the deepest level. In mid 1996, I became a consultant for a behavioral assessment tool called The Birkman Method.
Based on Psalm 139:13 and developed by a dear Christian friend, Dr. Roger Birkman, this highly sophisticated resource was already well-known to corporations like Microsoft, Ford, and Sprint – but not in the Christian community. Its quality was Cadillac, but so was its pricing! [Most churches concerned about identifying personality traits simply used less expensive tools – and with less depth than the Birkman Method.] It was during this time that I began to use Birkman’s report sets with individual leaders alongside my “spiritual assessments” because I wanted to discover the whole person: personality AND gifting.
It slowly dawned on me, over a seven-year process, that a Christian has two distinctive patterns going on in his or her one life at the same time. That is, every believer has a baseline personality but also functions powerfully with two or three spiritual gifts, with the gifts flowing out from the baseline personality. I used to think that the two, gifting and personality, just blended together into one form. But then I observed scores of leaders whose personality and gifting appeared to be distinctively different in part or in total. And for some, the attempt at understanding gifting was actually confused by certain personality qualities. Which is it: talent or gifting?
But how could I help leaders come to grip with the reality of both worlds colliding within? It was then I realized that the Lord had already given me the two major puzzle pieces to frame things together! I welcome you to the “Your Leadership Grip enhanced Birkman Blueprint” or “Grip-Birkman”. We saw a chance to help people identify, more deeply and profoundly that ever before, the differences between one’s gifting and personality, one’s supernatural empowering and one’s talents. I saw a chance for each person to discover his/her “blueprint for living” as God has designed from birth, then empowered from conversion.
ChurchSmart worked out the plans to combine my multi-angled gifts resource, an assessment set with ten years of impact, with a personality profiling resource with 45 years of sophistication and depth. And the costs of the resource was brought down to make the resource more fully accessible to ministries and Christian leaders globally.
In June of 2017, Grip-Birkman Inc was established to maintain and build the assessment, while remaining true to the relational focus of the Grip-Birkman community of Coaches and Trainers. The organization is guided by a leadership team of coaches and trainers who are committed to advancing the Body of Christ through the use of Grip-Birkman.