This week I took one of those “Discover Your Strengths!” kinds of tests. You give them about 45 minutes of your life, and you answer a bunch of either/or questions that don’t feel like either/or questions. The results of the test will then tell you what you’re good at.

Seeing’s how I’m 40 years old, I think I have a pretty good grasp of my personality. While these tests never surprise me, they can be just a bit disappointing. I mean, in the back of my mind,  I think I’m secretly hoping the test will uncover some awesome talent that’s been lying dormant for four decades.

Oh, I’m supposed to be an athlete? Well, I guess I better go down to the stadium and tell the Atlanta Falcons’ coach to put me in.

An astronaut? Time to sit the family down and break the news that Daddy’s going to be on the Space Station for the next couple of months.

I took a similar test a few years ago, and it told me I was a Wizard. Cool, I thought. I get to go to Hogwart’s! I wonder if I get to pick out my own wand? Should I get a flashy wand or just the little crooked stick? Reading on, I realized that the “wizard” was someone who likes wisdom for wisdom’s sake. It concluded by saying, I kid you not, that unfortunately there weren’t really any marketable skills for the wizard and that I would have a hard time finding employment. Do what?

Fortunately the test I took this week was a little kinder, and hopefully a little more applicable to my life. One thing unique about this test is that it doesn’t point out your weaknesses at all. In fact you have to pay them money to get your weaknesses. Instead, they point out the fact that you will be far more effective in focusing on what you’re good at and getting better at that than you would be flailing about and getting a little better at the things you’re terrible at.

While I wasn’t really surprised by the results of this particular test, I was relieved. I was released of the burden of trying to be something I’m not.  It’s such a freeing thought that I don’t have to try to be somebody else.

I can be me. And that’s enough.

The test told me that I like to read. That I like to write. That I like to express my thoughts. That I like coming up with new ideas. While none of this is new to me, I did leave with a desire to take ownership of who I am.

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies happens in This is Spinal Tap. A hotel clerk, brilliantly played by Paul Benedict, replies to a cutting remark by saying “I am as God made me, sir.”

Through this test I was encouraged to find out that I am made in God’s image. Apparently part of God’s image is a love for reading, and writing, and coming up with ideas.

I am as God made me, sir.

If you’ve never taken one of these tests, I highly encourage you to do so. While you probably won’t be surprised by the results, you will leave with the freedom of being yourself. The one I took is called Strengthfinder 2.0. They give you an inventory of your strengths as well as an action plan covering next steps towards putting your strengths into action. Really great stuff.

I could see this being a great tool for individuals looking for their purpose or a way to increase their effectiveness. I could also see couples taking this together. My wife and I took the test and learned a lot from it. You could also take this in the workplace to see how to communicate and support one another as a team.

Have you ever taken a strengths test? Personality test? Spiritual gifts test? Were you surprised at the results? How do you think these tests benefit? Can they be harmful? Use the comments section to discuss…