Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Stop-Light and Four Personality Temperaments

1 Cor 12:4-7 "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."

Today's post aims to begin exploring the concept of how God uses different personality temperaments to achieve His purposes. Before we make any further comments on the text above, I want to introduce you to four people and a little story about them that illustrates what is meant by the idea of personality temperament. 

Meet Carl, Sam, Molly and Fred
There was once a small town that had at its center a stop light. The roads leading into and out of this town went to places and came from places of influence and possibility. For anything and anyone coming into and out of the town, there had to be a common understanding and agreed upon authority telling those going through the light when to go and when to stop. Thankfully the town charter had adopted the words of the State and Government that established such principles so that anyone coming into the town could proceed or stop at the light in order and go in peace.

The Mayor of the small town exercised the authority and the Sheriff and Deputies made sure all things were in order. Little businesses and homes peppered the country side and thoroughfares of that small municipality. 

One day four completely different people were coming toward the stop light at the same time. The first was Carl Choleric (pronounced Ko-lair-ick). Carl was the type of man that had no time for stop lights and was eager to get to his destination on time. Carl was a take-charge type of guy who was a good person to have if you need something done but who otherwise preferred to have it done yesterday. Carl's hope was that the light would stay green, however if it turned yellow, he would floor-it and hope to make it through before the dreaded "red-light" came up.

The second person was Sam Sanguine. Sam was a friendly outgoing fellow who though having a destination, yet had forgotten his itinerary at home. Sam Sanguine was not worried because for him, meeting people along the way and being a friendly outgoing person was just as important (or perhaps moreso) than getting the job done. Sam was a motivator who could get the ball rolling and convince others to follow him. However Sam also had the bad habit of not finishing things and moving onto something else. As Sam was approaching the stop light, his hope was that the light would be a quick one, however if he got to talking to the other people in the other cars waiting at the light, that was o.k too!

The third person was Molly Melancholy. Molly enjoyed thinking and doing creative things. She had her gps, maps and itinerary all laid out in alphabetical order. Molly had lists and lists of lists of what she was going to do before, during and after arriving at her destination. When Molly saw the stop light up ahead, she had researched how long the light would take to change from red to green. Molly at times could get moody if things didn't go her way, however she had three or four plans ready to go in case the light took longer than expected.

Then the fourth person heading towards the light at the center of town was Fred Phlegmatic. Fred was easy going and in no particular hurry. Fred was the kind of guy who could mutter things under his breath but would keep to himself unless prompted by someone to act. His destination was the same every week and he never missed one time, since his loyalty and love for regularity made him a valued person. Fred's slow and easy going ways could sometimes cause people to wonder why he took so long to do things. However, Fred was unconcerned about the red light up ahead and planned on slowing down before the light turned yellow.

The light in the center of town was a quick yellow light and so all four of our fictitious characters arrived at the same time. Sam Sanguine wanted to introduce himself, Molly Melancholy whipped out some paper to make another list and tried not to look up at the other three people but made sure she stayed focused on the light. Carl Choleric tapped his fingers and rolled his eyes at Molly and at Sam's excessive waving and friendliness. Poor Carl just wanted to get to "point B". Fred Phlegmatic was calm and surveyed each of the other three drivers and smiled, thinking of funny little jokes to pass the time. He figured the light would turn eventually and in the meantime, already had planned what he was going to do once he arrived at his destination.

Suddenly the light turned green and now the question was: who would go first? To find out, you will have to come back to our next post. Meanwhile, here is the point regarding personality temperaments and the above opening scripture as we close out today's post.

The point:
When Paul writes what he did up in 1 Corinthians 12, his concern was to show how the Triune God has so designed the church to be a reflection of Himself as a redeemed community unified in Jesus Christ that expresses such devotion in diverse ways. Spiritual gifts are the primary focus of the texts and are supernaturally given graces given out by the Holy Spirit at salvation. When we speak of personality temperaments, these are natural inborn traits that everyone has and which tend to fall into four general categories of description (choleric, sanguine, melancholy and phlegmatic). The goal is to further our discussion on this subject and to see what happens to our four friends. Blessings! More tomorrow....

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