Your Personality Traits
Paul used the human body as a metaphor of what the “body” of believers is like. The head is different from the hand. The nose differs from the toes. Each is important, each has a job to do, each would be missed if they weren’t part of the body. Hopefully, by now, you are celebrating your uniqueness and are starting to understand how God can use almost everything about you for His glory. Now we want you to consider the many different personality traits that God has endowed you with.
Our approach to personality is to show you different traits and the broad range of behavior in each one.
The main reason for going over personality traits is so we can understand more about our own behavior. Insight into our behavior will help us choose vocations and volunteer situations that best suit who we are. How can we maximize our effectiveness and experience the deep joy and satisfaction of serving God if we are constantly striving against our self and the situations that we are in? Knowing our traits not only allows us to discern where we may be most effective but it also shows us how to be the most effective in situations where we do not have a choice to serve or not. For example let’s look at parenting. God has called all of us with children to be good parents. He does not give out excuse slips to those that might be high in one personality trait and low in another. He calls us all to be a good parent. What we need to do is to understand the goals of good parenting and accomplish them through the way that we were designed. We are responsible for our behavior no matter what our traits are. Knowing who we are allows us to adjust and adapt any traits that we need to and to use our others to their fullest advantage.
We cannot do ministry alone. We need each other, yet so many times we let our differences in personality separate us. Instead we need to celebrate our differences. God has created a wide range of human experience. We need to understand those that we fellowship with better. How else will we be able to minister effectively together? To do this we first describe the wide range of normalcy in the different traits. So often we narrow what we believe to be acceptable behavior. We look at others through our own bias. We hope that this section will shed some light on why people behave the way they do and that we would extend our hand of love, grace and understanding to each other.
Bearing Each Other’s Burdens
Not only have we explained the wide range of normalcy for each trait we have included descriptions of excessive behavior. Which of us does not have times
when we are excessive in our behavior? Our goal is to help us see these excessive ranges so we can correct them and move more toward a more Biblical range of acceptable behavior. The power of the word of God, the fruit of the Spirit, and the fellowship of loving Christians can be the strength we need for any of our weaknesses. When we can see where our behavior is becoming excessive or we begin to understand someone else’s excessessiveness, we can help each other to patiently move more into normalcy. When this happens, I believe that we will minister together in ways we never dreamt possible. The world will see our love for each other and it will speak volumes of our Savior whom we represent. We need to reach a hurting and dying world, but how if we do not understand, accept and help one another?
This is about you volunteering for ministry. In so many churches the routine is to recruit someone to do a ministry. We look at the person’s skills, ability and experience and recruit them. The trouble is that we do not take into consideration their personality traits and the resulting preferences they have. We hope that the result of this will be a better knowledge of where and how you want to serve the Lord so you can talk to those at your church about volunteering in a ministry that fits you best. What a joy, excitement and passion burns in our soul when we are serving God in a way that best compliments the way He has created us.
The study of temperaments, which was a primitive form of personality theory, goes back to the time of Hippocrates in 460-370 B.C and the Greek civilization. In the late seventeen hundreds Kant again popularized temperament theory. Personality theory, as we know it today, started in the early nineteen hundreds with great advances in the 1950’s. Although he is more famous for his experiments with LSD and other mind expanding drugs, today much of our personality testing has its roots in Timothy Leary’s famous study in 1957 at the Kaiser Foundation in Oakland, California. He was also joined by LaForge and Suzek’s study of the Interpersonal Check List. Leary’s diagram, known as CircumPlex, was illustrated by a circle with a vertical/horizontal grid in the middle. The grid’s vertical axis going north and south represented the opposites: Dominant and Submissive. This line intersected the horizontal axis, going east and west, which represented the opposites; Hostility and Affection. This landmark grid created a whole field of personality research resulting in many different variations of this early research.
There has been widespread use of personality study in Christendom. While I see the usefulness in the theory of personality traits and want to make some applications in this book, I am concerned about the oversimplification with the use of many personality tests. We are not automatons, programmed with a personality, and therefore destined to behave in certain predictable behavior. We have no excuse for poor interpersonal relationships simply because we are a certain personality type and may not be perfectly compatible with someone having a different type personality.
The Bible concerns itself with a wide spectrum of personality traits. The beauty of the Bible is that it shows that all types of personalities can indeed live for God. There is no “perfect” personality. Rather, every human being is uniquely created and is responsible for their behavior before God. For example, people representing all the personality types marry. Are anyone of them excused from being a good marriage partner? No, God is able to work through each of us, no matter what our personality type, using our strengths and helping us with our weaknesses. It is up to each individual to be responsible for their behavior. With the help of the Holy Spirit and the fruit that it produces in our life, we are able to overcome any personality deficiency or overcompensation. All the personality traits, when lived in a responsible way, can be used for God.
Do you want to know more about your personality and ministry?
Do you know what your Spiritual Gifts are?