By Martha Bush
Recently, my friend approached me and in a frustrated voice said, “My husband thinks it’s hilarious to watch me squirm. I’m not saying I can’t ever take a joke or have fun. Overall, I’m just not a joker or prankster. I have a very serious personality. The serious aspect of my personality has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I haven’t changed.”
Growing even more frustrated, she blurted out, “Why do I need to act a different way to be the way everyone else thinks I should be? Why do I have to change my personality completely to suit anyone else?” I am who I am. Don’t Try to Change Me. You either accept me the way I am or you don’t.”
Honestly, it took all I could do to hold in my laughter as I listened to her tell me about her reactions to her husband. You see, I, too, am a jokester and like to pull pranks - my husband does not! For years, I had “suppressed laughter,” because my husband didn’t think my joking and pranks were funny either. I walked on egg shells suppressing my true personality to have peace and harmony.
Then came the day I took a course on Temperaments that changed my life. It is defined as:
Our own uniqueness, which we each are born with
that sets us apart as an individual.
I finally gained my composure, and told my friend, “That serious side, non-joking personality is a part of your uniqueness, and you shouldn’t try to change it. At the same time, I said very gently, “You shouldn’t try to change your husband’s joking personality either – that’s what makes him unique.”
But, we got a problem if adults are crying out--- “that’s just the way I am; don’t try to change me.” While that is a partially true statement, “There are times that just the way I am, may need to be changed.” Ummm!
The question is, “where and how should the changes be made in our personality?”
Most educators of human behavior classify temperaments into 4 categories. Phlegmatic, Choleric, Sanguine, Melancholy. When I first heard those words in a Bible study, it didn’t sound very Biblical to me.
However, my ears perked up when I was able to associate temperament with Psalm 139:13-14: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (NKJV)
Though we are uniquely designed with many strengths, each temperament also has its own weaknesses, thanks to Adam. Adam’s sin was like an infectious disease - it spread to every human being born thereafter. Because of this, we also are born with inherited weakness in our temperament.
My friends, I cannot do justice to a study on temperaments in a short blog, so I want to try to impress upon you the importance of having knowledge about one of the most unique aspects of human behavior.
1.Knowledge helps us to judge our own conduct.
Very interesting that the same Psalm that tells us we are uniquely made, also tells us to search our hearts for wicked ways. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps. 139:23-24 NKJV))
2.Knowledge helps us is to understand other people.
The key to having different personalities is understanding one another, and making a detour around those things that are causing friction. It is not wrong that my husband is more serious minded than I am; neither is it wrong I have a joking personality. I didn’t stop being silly, I am just silly with my girlfriends.
3.Knowledge helps us to understand and use the gift God has given us.
The gifts of the spirit, as found in Romans 12, 1 Cor 12, and Ephesians, make it plain how different we are in the way we help others. The gifts God placed within us, flow from us according to our own unique temperament. Don’t try to be like someone else when using your gift---use your gift according to the way God designed you.
4.Knowledge helps us to walk out our calling and purpose.
We each have a call on our lives. Don’t let a weak characteristic of your temperament prevent you from heeding to that call. About 25 years ago, I knew God was calling me to pursue a specific direction. I also knew it would cause a lot of conflict at home. One of the major weaknesses of the Phlegmatic temperament is avoiding conflict at all extremes. But, God helped me to face the conflict, and the strengths of my temperament began to come alive that had lain dormant all my life.
So, as the old saying goes, “that’s just the way I am," may need to change. Change may well begin with knowing the weaknesses of your temperament. When you see how God has uniquely designed your strengths, I promise you that you can’t wait to give the old devil a black eye by accenting your strengths, and walk out of those weak areas.
(Resource: Personality Plus by Florence Littauer)