Some people might call me a perfectionist. I prefer the term “recovering perfectionist.”
For many years I tried to please God, but usually ended up second guessing myself. Am I reading and memorizing from the “right” Bible translation? Which is more holy? Exuberant worship with shouting and jumping or quiet meditation on my knees? Should I meet with God when the birds are awake? Or when I’m awake? My spiritual life has been flooded with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. After many experiences where I walked away from sermons or worship services feeling like a loser because I wasn’t like someone else, I started to wonder…Is it really pleasing God if I am simply copying someone else?
As a Life and Leadership Coach, I’ve seen firsthand how people function best when they know (and respect) their individual strengths and preferences. As a “recovering perfectionist” who continues to wrestle with how to best please God, I began asking this question: Is it possible that my unique fingerprint of personality and strengths impacts how I connect best with God?
After some reading and research, I discovered an interesting answer to my question. There are some smart folks who suggest that there are Nine Spiritual Temperaments, or God Languages. Let’s take a quick look at each of them and, like me, maybe you’ll recognize a couple that sound just like you!
- ACTIVIST. The Activist loves God through confronting evil.
- ASCETIC. The Ascetic loves God through solitude and simplicity.
- CAREGIVER. The Caregiver loves God through serving others.
- CONTEMPLATIVE. The Contemplative loves God through adoring worship.
- ENTHUSIAST. The Enthusiast loves God through mystery and celebration.
- INTELLECTUAL. The Intellectual loves God through the mind.
- NATURALIST. The Naturalist loves God through experiencing Him outdoors.
- SENSATE. The Sensate loves God through all the senses.
- TRADITIONALIST. The Traditionalist loves God through ritual and symbol.
Which temperament did YOU resonate with? Which temperament makes you happy just thinking about it, but you never imagined it as a way to connect with or worship God? Which new temperament might God be calling you to consider? Which temperament (and the people who practice it) drives you nuts just thinking about it?
This is the tension we experience in the Body of Christ. This beautiful and messy jumble of personalities that we call God’s family.
As followers of God, there is real value in “knowing ourselves” in a spiritual sense. When we recognize, accept, and value the way we are designed – BY GOD – to connect with God, we might just stop comparing ourselves with others and fully embrace the beauty of God within us and around us. Perhaps together we will discover new freedom and joy in our relationship with God… and our relationships with each other.
Questions to consider: Which God Language resonates with you? Which one repulses you?
I’ll go first. I am attracted to Naturalist, Intellectual, and Caregiver. I am NOT anxious to dive into Ascetic or Traditionalist (although I assure you that I respect and love my friends who do!) 🙂
For more information check out these resources:
Myra Perrine, What’s Your God Language? Connecting with God through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament (Tyndale House Publishers, 2007).
Gary L. Thomas, Sacred Pathways (Grand Rapids, MT: Zondervan, 1996).