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Curious about Your Leadership Grip enhanced Birkman Blueprint?

Ardath Smith, Church Resource Ministries


The Birkman Method has been in circulation for over 40 years now. It is a tool used to help determine baseline personality, and provides more than 30 different reports of varying types. If you acquainted with the Myers Briggs personality indicator, it measures 4 or 8 categories. The Birkman Method measures 11 or 22 categories, so it is more complex and takes more effort to understand. This being said, I also find it to be a much more comprehensive and revealing tool.


Dr. Roger Birkman is a deeply committed Christian, and based his development of The Birkman Method on Psalm 139:13-14, that each of us are “…fearfully and wonderfully made.” Over the history of his work, his impact was felt primarily in the business arena – with organizations like Microsoft, Sprint, and Ford Motor Co. as clients. Very few Christian organizations have used this resource in the past because the reports are quite expensive, Churches and mission agencies simply did not have the dollars to pay for this high quality set of profiling reports, called by many the “Gold Standard” or “Cadillac” of profiling tools in the world (used in five different languages).


But now that has changed. Churches, denominations and mission agencies are now gaining more direct access to this powerful resource. Birkman International and Dr. Paul Ford have gotten together through ChurchSmart Resources to provide a combination spiritual gifts and personality resource called Your Leadership Grip enhanced Birkman BLUEPRINT.


Who is Paul Ford? Paul is a teambuilding and leadership specialist with Church Resource Ministries (CRM), and he authors leadership, teambuilding and gifts mobilizing resources for ChurchSmart Publishers. For close to fifteen years now, the Lord has been using Paul to develop spiritual gifts tools and teambuilding assessments to help Christian leaders, teams, and churches all over the world. I don’t know how many countries he has traveled to, but he has worked with over 10,000 leaders from nine or ten cultures at this point. Let’s look at each of the pieces of this new “Blueprint for living.”


Start with Your Leadership Grip gifts profiling workbook


Your Leadership Grip workbook. In using this workbook, I was first impressed with the thoroughness of the Heights Spiritual Gifts Survey which is included in that tool. I was also interested with his approach to looking at spiritual gifts: he has you look at them from three different angles (gifts, team styles, and leadership functions), and you don’t just evaluate yourself:. He also has you ask at least three other people to give feedback on how they perceive you to be gifted spiritually.


I am particularly intrigued with Paul’s explanation of the gifts. He gives definitions, gift “characteristics”, and gift “liabilities”. The latter tends to be just as enlightening, if not more so, then the former! It’s important to note that the gifts themselves don’t have liabilities, but human creatures with the gifts often manifest certain patterns of behavior because of their own sinfulness or immaturity. Here’s an example, quoted from Your Leadership Grip, page 15:



Definition: the supernatural ability to encourage, comfort, challenge or rebuke others to action in such a way that they respond.


Gift Characteristics:


1. Encourages and motivates others to practical application of specific biblical truths.

2. Motivates people to apply Scripture, not just learn it.

3. Tells others the truth about themselves with great encouragement and understanding.

4. Encourages people to discover what they can become and sets up opportunities for them to fulfill those possibilities.

5. Committed to offering specific, practical guidance for others’ spiritual growth.

6. May take the form of rebuke, though people will still feel helped by such an approach.

7. Often more effective in short-term encouragement than long-term counseling or support.


Gift Liabilities:


1. May struggle with follow-through with an individual or project because they want to move on and exhort someone else.

2. May offer “quick fixes” and appear insensitive to longer-term needs.

3. May jump to conclusions before listening to the whole story.

4. May offer to director or harsh counsel at one extreme or be insensitive to the real need at the other extreme.

5. May become more vision-centered than person-centered because of desire for the person to take practical steps.


Team Styles. Your Leadership Grip also includes a “Team Style Questionnaire” which helps you understand how your gifts function in the team setting. It also reveals where you are weak and need others to help, often the most difficult things for each of us to see clearly in ourselves. One of my favorite things about Paul’s approach is that he believes God has created us with needs and limitations. One of the places this shows up most pointedly is in these Team Styles, where you not only identify strengths but also weaknesses – since both are a part of who you are!


None of us were meant to have everything that is needed, that is, to be strong in every area. Needs are not only not sinful, they are a part of our original design! As servants of the Lord with influence upon others, leaders in the Christian community often think that they are supposed to “have it all” and be able to “do it all”. But when we understand and acknowledge our needs or limitations, we begin to know who we need within the Body, and we can develop a holy and healthy interdependency in life/ministry.


For your information, here are the four Team Styles:


Most of us have a primary team style and an secondary team style, both which clearly portray our combination of spiritual gifts. You might say that the team style reveals our gifts in team language.


Primary Functions of Leadership. The third angle through which people see themselves in this workbook helps you to understand how your spiritual gifts function in leadership language. The Primary Functions of Leadership assessment reveals two important things: where you are strong in your leadership – and who you need in order to be an effective leader.


After studying biblical leadership and watching spiritual gifting in leaders for twenty years, Paul has identified these five primary leadership functions:


Equipping Releaser

Values Keeper

Team Builder

Active Listener

Vision Sharers


In his work with thousands of leaders, Paul has never discovered an individual leader who leads and functions powerfully in all of five of these ways. Yet all five functions are needed to lead. How can this be? Paul believes this is just one more confirmation that we are designed to be working together – indeed that we need each other for fully effective leadership – in order for us to fulfill the Lord’s purposes for our church or ministry. “Leadership is not a person, though we need a leader so that we all learn how to follow. Rather, leadership is a series of functions fulfilled by a group of people.”


I hope that gives you an idea of his approach and his key elements in Your Leadership Grip.


Add The Birkman Method to Your Leadership Grip


Sometime in the mid 90s, Paul began working with The Birkman Method. He found tremendous value the depth of the multiple reports that the Birkman provided, and it added new and different pieces to understanding the “blueprint for living” of each Christian leader whom Paul trained.


The Birkman Method is the “Cadillac” when it comes to identifying a person’s baseline personality – no other profiling assessment goes deeper and wider than this one. The depth comes from breaking out one’s personality into eleven distinctive categories called Components. No other profiling tool goes to that depth and breadth.


The Birkman Method gives the individual information that I’ve never seen in any other personality assessment. My favorite example of this is how Birkman tracks an individual’s “Strengths and Needs”. The way The Birkman discusses “motivational needs” is unlike any other tool I’ve seen. It helps the individual understand his/her needs, and how he or she will experience stress under circumstances in which these needs are not met. I’ve found it simply fascinating – a great tool for self-understanding. Stuff that had taken me 40 years to understand about myself was right there in black and white. Amazing.


Back to the Process. Paul now had a way to identify both personality and gifting and how – or IF – the two parts fit together. As he put the two major blueprint pieces together, it was now clear. You see, he became convinced that, under the power of the Holy Spirit, new Christians consistently act in ways that a baseline personality instrument neither captures nor predicts. The gifts of the Spirit, which enter the Christian’s life at conversion, are not just natural talents. They are supernatural empowerments. God initially created each person with a baseline personality, and secondly, as each person comes to Christ, out from that baseline personality comes powerful spiritual gifts, the supernatural power of God in specific forms. And those powerful gifts often come out in forms very different than that baseline personality. Rather than the two assessments pulling all the pieces together, they actually provided a way to pull apart gifting from personality and thus understand the whole person much more clearly.


Paul was convinced that putting the tools together, with Birkman International’s permission and support, would be a great thing! And, after eight years of working with The Birkman Method, Paul was able to identify three different levels of reports to provide varying levels of depth for individuals or teams. He determined to use his Your Leadership Grip workbook in tandem with various Birkman Reports at those three different levels.


The movement from natural to supernatural now had a set of assessments to clearly delineate both categories rather than just mashing them together! ChurchSmart, Paul’s publisher, and Birkman International decided to officially combine these tools in such a way that people within the Church could have this multi-approach instrument at hand to help them at a depth ever before possible in one tool.


Ardath’s Opinion? I am not a trained Birkman consultant, so I cannot administer the third level, the Priority Level. However, I have taken the complete Birkman, and I have been trained as a coach for the Base and Mid Levels. Now that I have worked with a number of people, I actually think that the Mid Level is an excellent option, and in fact is the best option for many, if not most, people. What I’ve discovered is that the complete Birkman is so complex for some that it can be overwhelming. Too much information is not necessarily helpful for self-understanding.


You can order Paul Ford’s tools through ChurchSmart Resources. His published works include the “Mobilizing Spiritual Gifts” series and the book Unleash Your Church! ChurchSmart may very well have a brochure just on his works, but I’m not sure of that.


I would be happy to answer any other questions you have, and you can also contact ChurchSmart directly. The name of my contact there is Bob Rummell. If you have e-mail, you may reach him at


If you desire to reach Paul Ford, you may reach him at



  2019, Dr. Paul Ford.  All Right Reserved.