IHS 3 – Generalist or Specialist?


There are two types of thinking when developing people, whether it is for leadership, ministry or both. One is a generalist approach. This says that we should be strong in all areas. Where we are weak, we should build up these areas.

The other is a more specialist approach. This says, focus on the areas where you are strong and learn to manage the areas where you aren’t strong.

Ministry training used to focus on the first way. This was particularly true of smaller churches or ministries. There was one full time person and this person had to learn to do everything.

Now there is a growing movement towards the second way. There is an appreciation of some of the benefits of specializing. When we specialize in areas where we are naturally strong we will have a much greater rate of improvement, we will more likely come to a place of doing things excellently and we will more likely be energized in what we do.

This doesn’t mean we ignore areas where we are weak. We have to acknowledge them and find ways of address those areas. We have to manage them rather than focus on them.

God has made each person to be unique. That uniqueness is expressed in many different ways. One of them is within the different patterns of thought, feelings and behaviors people have. And while there are many different patterns and different ways they operate there are four major focus areas for these patterns.

People have one of the four areas as their strongest (or primary) area. People also have a secondary area. The difference in strength between the two areas will differ between people. Some people have a very strong primary area and then the secondary area is not nearly as strong, while others have a small difference between the areas.

While we can learn to operate in each of the different four areas, there will be one (or two) which will be a natural ‘strength’ for you. We will never be strong in all four focus areas. You will be far more effective if you know which is your strongest area and can juggle things so that you can spend more time working in this area.

There are good things and bad things about each focus area. When we understand the potentially negative things about our stronger focus areas we deal with these more effectively. We can ask for help in areas where we aren’t strong. We can also let the people with whom we work know that this isn’t my stronger areas and I don’t often think this way.

These four areas are achieving, influencing, relating and thinking. Over the next four posts, I will look at each of these areas. What are some indications that I’m strong in this area? What are the positive things? What are the potentially negative things? What are some things that I can do to deal with the potentially negative aspects of my strengths?

About Nate

I am a strengths coach and Bible teacher. I love helping people find out their talents, how they operate, what is special about them and how they can most effectively use who they are. I also love helping people understand the scriptures and through that come to a better understanding of God. I blog about this on ontoxenos.wordpress.com I'm married and have two young children and together we try to follow what God has for us.

10 Responses to IHS 3 – Generalist or Specialist?

  1. This will be interesting to follow Nate. Thanks!

  2. Nate says:

    Reblogged this on Ontoxenos.

  3. I’m looking forward to the follow-up! I’m pretty sure I focus on being a specialist who wishes sometimes to be a generalist….Self-discovery is a vital part of healing and growth!

  4. ptl2010 says:

    People. Wonderfully made. God’s creation. I will be watching and waiting as you unfold more. Thanks.

  5. Peter Baric says:

    Interesting stuff. Good that you not write too long texts. /Peter

  6. Nate:
    Thank you and I look forward to this study! I will be sharing it on my FB. Blessings~Zoey

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