Faith Baptist Church
4258 Botetourt Road
Fincastle, Virginia 24090
(540) 473-2325

Personality and Spirituality
Conflicting Notions in Christianity


Quite often Christians are expected to manifest certain traits, such as seriousness, which the Bible calls sober-mindedness in I Thess.5:6 At times we are expected to demonstrate great effervescence and cheerfulness, I Thess.5:16. Is there a reason some believers display one of these traits more than the other? Is it possible that there is supposed to be a blend of these godly traits throughout Christianity with one who is more serious minded and introspective and the other who is more care free?

Psychology depicts personality types in various ways. Some say we are either type A, which is predominately cheerful. This personality type is called sanguine from the Latin, full of blood. Type A personalities are said to be robust and full of life. Peter was like this, full of vim and vigor. A real can do, “git er done”, person. You might say this person is considered the optimist. You might say this is what a believer is supposed to act like; one full of happy emotions and joy. This personality trait was found in a lady named Syntyche who was a member in the church at Philipi as noted in Phil.4:2. She was a good mixer and very sociable with others. Her name from the Greek, suntugchano, means to meet with as a pleasant acquaintance.

The type B personality is said to be melancholic. This person has traits of deep somberness and they tend to be extremely reflective wherein most of the time this person comes across as being down. This person is obviously considered a pessimist, or depressed of which most are not. From Phil.4:2 we have such a lady whose name was Euodia, a name which means prosperous journey. She was more factual and reserved. She was more reflective than active. Both of these saved ladies had much to offer the church, but they apparently were struggling to get along with each other due to their personality differences. The church was taking up sides, the lines were drawn and Paul had to call in a conflict mediator to help them resolve their differences.

The easy going type of personality is typically thought of as being more spiritual and mature; the one most think to be closer to God because we erroneously stereotype effervescence, a bubbly personality, with spirituality.

I read an article from Today’s Christian Preacher, a publication of Bob Jones University, in which a pastor writes that congregations sometimes have a pastor who appears to have lost his joy. He may be doctrinal, have a great love for souls, and he remains unstained by the world, but his apparent joy appears to be missing. This writer says such pastors must do whatever it takes to avoid loosing their joy, or overcome whatever it is that temps them to give their joy away. I will agree, in part, that Christian joy is given away when sin controls the life. I will agree that capacity for spiritual things will enhance our joy as Christians, but none of us shows our capacity for life equally.

We all have our own emotional make up and some believers, though they may appear to have more joy than others, may not have as much. The Type B personality Christians are often made to feel guilty if they are not as emotionally spontaneous as others. There are lost folks who appear to have more joy than some of these Christians. They appear more negative than positive in their outlook.

We are either naive, or we are in denial to think there are only positives in life and no negatives. You cannot have a positive without having a negative. It is a lack of intellectual integrity and honesty to deny this fact. We should not deny either side of this point.

Have you ever seen the commercial of the man working around his beautiful house and while mowing his lawn he is smiling as he remarks at how far in debt he is?

The notion that we must smile all of the time, or be serious all of the time makes hypocrites out of us. The stereotype that the unsaved world has for Christians, that immature believers have as well, is divorced from biblical reality and biblical revelation. We are made different from each other. And yet we, for some insecure reason, believe everyone should model their lives after our own. The serious introspective person thinks everyone should always be serious like them and the happy go lucky person thinks everyone should be like them. We have all witnessed in our society some alleged Christian men, who smile all the time and yet some have devious little minds, sometimes perverted minds, hard at work scheming up plans to undermine some pastor’s ministry or do irreparable damage to some unsuspecting innocent person including children. Sometimes we look at those deep thinkers and we image they are pondering rapturous thoughts about God and his infinite wisdom, when they may contemplating a plethora of mental attitude sins and offenses to the body of Christ.

We look so much on the exterior reflections of men that we fail to observe their personal integrity; perhaps we should take the time to judge their character more closely. Perhaps we should take even more time to judge our own character.

Now when it comes to joy, we should abound in it and sometimes exceeding joy even in our trials, however, everyone expresses his or her joy according to their personality and emotional make up and it is disingenuous to fake it. God is not impressed when we try to impose our response to his blessings on others. When our world comes crashing in on us God doesn’t expect us to be elated. Job’s friends judged him in this manner and assumed that because he was suffering and in such distress that he was living in sin. I have seen godly women who have lost a child through a miscarriage or soon after birth, and in their season of extreme grief they are judged by other saints for not smiling and rejoicing at the home going of that child. What a shame it is, when a professed Christian adds to the suffering of another Christian.

Some believers show joy at different levels than others. Some jump up and down and gyrate and hoot and holler while others may sit calmly with hands folded in lap and smile and sigh. The latter responder is just as happy and joyous as the first person so we shouldn’t judge either one, and this same response goes for preachers as well. Some preachers are better cheerleaders and they would make good game show hosts while others would be more comfortable teaching ancient history. Both can be equally happy and joyous, but they show it a bit differently. Most of the time the Type A personality Christian judges the Type B personality Christian because Type A people allow emotions to steer their thinking, and subsequently they “feel” they are more spiritual which gives them an open season on any one else. I heard a well known evangelical preacher on the radio the other day say some saints do not know how to worship God because they do not show enough emotion and joy. Such pastors have no idea that they are charging and subsequently judging some of God’s children with carnality, and they are creating a guilt complex for these believers. An atmosphere of heightened excitement is expected in these churches because their pastors foster it by their belittling their more reflective serious minded saints.

A believer should be happy and have a happy countenance, but he should never fake it in an attempt to impress others that he is close to God. If a slight smile is your expression of joy, or a deep settled since of peace is joy to you then keep it that way.

 

If doing back flips and shouting is your expression of joy then go for it, but never should either person judge the other for not being spiritual and close to the Lord.

Never let either people believe for one moment that God is impressed with their demonstrations of joy; at whatever level it is expressed. The Lord already knows how happy we are as we trust in his word, and the Lord uses both personality types to get his work done. So no one needs to try to impress the other with their style of appreciation.

Also, all believers carry into their Christian life their own stereotypes; their own prejudices of how they think the model Christian ought to act. For some of us we suppose that we are to be excessively exuberant and for others there is the supposition that we are to be stoic and reserved.

How do we find a proper answer and balance to address these different expectations? I believe the balance is in growing to spiritual maturity; that is, through learning and obeying the word of God that these stereotypical expectations of what a Christian is supposed to act like will be sorted out. That all of this nonsense about who is and who is not spiritual will be answered and it will be the word of God that will cause us to function as honorable believers instead of petty immature siblings of the kingdom of heaven.

We must never equate personality with character; whether you are a type A or a type B personality; whether you are an extrovert or you are an introvert it makes no difference.

Many of God’s lambs have been deceived by alleged men and women who came across as sweet and caring and humble, but they had an agenda that interrupted that young lamb’s spiritual growth. They desired an audience and they used an effervescent personality and their God given talents to draw a following. Approbation lust (the desire for self-praise) is the prime unit of motivation for most of mankind. It is driven by blind selfish ambition spurned on by pride and arrogance. Such charlatans are glory thieves. People want attention, so they work at getting that attention. The next step is power lust wherein they corral that attention by manipulating people to do what they want. Always remember that God judges us by our character not our personality or skills set, I Samuel 16:7.

Never be impressed with someone’s personality type for it is not a true demonstration of their character. Get to know them and give them room to be human. Watch their lives for a consistent Christ like character. After a while you will come to make good Christian friends with people whom you once would have never had fellowshipped. The unity of the body of Christ demands that we all grow to spiritual maturity wherein our developed love of Christ, I Jn.2:5 is shown unconditionally to any believer.

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