Saturday, April 21, 2018

Greater Strengths and Lesser Strengths


If you’re like most of us, failure is not your best friend. But I like the attitude of one man. “I don’t say I have strengths and weaknesses,” he says. “I say I have strengths and lesser strengths.” That’s me! Lots and lots of strengths... but a great many of them are lesser strengths.

One of my lesser strengths may be in the area of art. But when my three-year-old son asked me to draw a picture of a horse on his chalkboard, I agreed anyway. And it wasn’t too bad. Well, it wasn’t great, I must admit. It may have looked a little more like a dog than a horse. But it was definitely a horse-looking animal of some sort and my young son seemed satisfied.  

I left the picture on the chalkboard. The next day one of his preschool friends stopped by to play. She spotted the drawing and asked, “Who drew the horse?” 

I called down the hall, “I did!” I actually felt just a little bit proud. After all, she immediately recognized it as a horse.

There was a moment of silence as a look of confusion swept her face. Then she asked, “Did you draw it when you were a baby?”

Everyone’s an art critic.

My son’s friend just couldn’t square such a childish line drawing with somebody my age. Sure, I’d starve as an artist, but I don’t have to excel as one. I have other strengths, other skills, other abilities. And I can enjoy good art while I spend time doing whatever it is I am meant to do. 

I appreciate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s perspective. He said, “Give what you have. To some it may be better than you dare to think.” I don’t need to beat myself up over all the things I do miserably. I learned years ago to make peace with those things. What others call weaknesses I call lesser strengths and look at them as nothing more than opportunities to learn.

In the meantime, I’ll give what I can and trust that will be enough.

-- Steve Goodier

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