News Articles

‘Insights’ help couples, families & churches
assess strengths, differences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Larry Smith is an otter who loves to talk. He has some golden retriever in his blood, and one of his main concerns is making others happy. Janet, his wife, is a golden retriever with beaver tendencies. She’s very detail-oriented and makes things happen.

Otter mixed with golden retriever? Golden retriever mixed with beaver? What kind of hybrid mixes are these?

The mixes are the results of Marriage Insights, a behavioral assessment service of LifeWay Christian Resources designed to help couples understand their God-given strengths and blend their differences.

“It really helped us to better understand each other,” said Smith, the family life pastor at Palmcroft Baptist Church in Phoenix. “The main benefit is in the area of communication, getting people to talk to each other.”

Marriage Insights is just one of five assessments offered by LifeWay. The Insights family also includes Ministry Insights, Position Insights, Family Insights and Workplace Insights.

Ministry Insights, the most widely used assessment, helps churches build close-knit ministry teams. “The reports focus on positive behavioral styles, communication preferences and strengths, not weaknesses,” said Gary McClure, marketing manager of the technology division at LifeWay. “It emphasizes how to leverage the good qualities God has instilled in each of us.”

Insights developed from more than two decades of research and practice by Christian counselor Dr. John Trent. Trent and LifeWay teamed up to move a paper-based assessment to an Internet-based tool. Since the assessment is available online, churches and participants receive immediate feedback from the surveys.

The survey is easy to use and accurate. Participants answer 24 questions and receive, usually in less than 20 minutes, a personalized report full of practical tips and easy-to-understand graphs.

Smith said one of his favorite things about the service is the in-depth reports. “They pull about a 25-page report out of these questions,” Smith said. “It’s a fantastic tool to better understand yourself and those with whom you interact.”

Each report is based on years of research and incorporates thousands of algorithms to generate results.

“The personal reports are so accurate that participants often inquire ‘if we have been reading their mail,'” McClure said.

Each person is a combination of all four styles, but typically one animal personality is primary:

— Lions tend to be strong, assertive, take charge people. They are decisive people who can be impatient when roadblocks pop up.

— Otters are often fun-loving and verbal people. They’re usually creative people who focus on the big picture rather than the details.

— Golden retrievers are understanding and compassionate people. They tend to be good, loyal team players and want everyone to feel close and connected.

— Beavers are detail-oriented people who like starting tasks and seeing them completed. They’re very systematic, and they are usually very organized.

The in-depth reports also include lists identifying strengths, dos and don’ts for communicating, keys to motivating and leading, areas for improvement and more.

Smith used Insights for the first time three years ago during a staff retreat. Since then, he has used Marriage Insights numerous times in premarital counseling.

“I want to be sure that [a couple] know each other as much as they can before they get married,” Smith said. “The expectations in marriage are far greater than anyone can reach. This is a wonderful test to see how compatible two people really are.”

The various assessments in the Insights family are diverse. Ministry Insights aids in staff development and team-building exercises. Position Insights, the newest addition to the family, helps churches during the ministry leaders selection and hiring process.

“It’s a method that aids in matching the stated ideal qualities of a person filling that role with the ‘right’ candidate,” McClure said.

Family Insights comes in two versions: for parents and for teenagers. The results of the two versions are combined to help build understanding and communication within the family.

Workplace Insights helps build teams as well as individuals. It’s a tool to learn what motivates coworkers and to better understand interpersonal dynamics that shape office settings.

Aside from being easy to use and accurate, the service also is affordable. Insights assessments cost $19.95, making them affordable for ministries and churches of all sizes. The cost is considerably lower than many other personality assessments.

For more information on Insights, visit www.lifeway.com/insights.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: TAKING STOCK and JOHN TRENT.

    About the Author

  • Leslie Ann Shoemake