Bible teacher, Stuart Pattico, examines the seven Christian personality types you’re likely to encounter during your spiritual journey, and the best way to relate to them
The Bible informs us that one of the keys to a successful marriage is ‘understanding’ (1 Peter 3:7). However, ‘understanding’ is not only important for marriage, it is essential for all relationships. Misunderstanding each other causes many conflicts. Such misunderstandings are often due to the fact that we have different personality types.
One of the unique features of Paul’s list of seven spiritual gifts (in Romans 12:6-8) is that, in addition to being gifts, each of the gifts corresponds to a personality type, and all of us can identify with at least one of them. The personality types are: Prophet (ie. Truth-Teller), Server, Teacher, Exhorter, Giver, Administrator and Mercy.
The key to relating to each of these personality types is to understand them. We will encounter them both in the Church and the world, so we would do well to know a bit about them so that we can respond to each in a Christlike manner.
The Truth-Teller is brutally honest and speaks frankly without fear of the consequences. They can’t stand hypocrisy and are very vocal. This combination can sometimes make them tricky to be around, as they may well say something that will upset you! They simply tell it as they perceive it.
The Server loves to help others in practical ways, and can consequently be judged as not being very spiritual. However, that is not the case; they are just in tune with the need to attend to the physical matters.
The Teacher is very logical and systematic. He or she is very thorough, and focuses on facts and truth as opposed to feelings. They love to research matters for themselves, instead of just taking your word for it.
The Exhorter is keen to encourage others and help people to grow. For the Exhorter, problems are just seen as stepping-stones to take you higher.
The Giver is passionate about sharing their material and monetary resources with others.
The Administrator tends to be very neat and organised. They take pleasure in coordinating people and projects, and think from a management perspective.
The Mercy personality type is concerned about the hurting person, and wants to alleviate their misery as quickly as possible. They are the kind of person that doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
I wonder which of these personality types you relate to? There may well be more than one. However, you will likely have a dominant personality type. I am sure that just by reading the above, you have an idea of which personality type(s) you are. Should you wish to embark upon a formal evaluation, Dr Rick Walston has provided a useful set of evaluation questions in his book, Unraveling the Mystery of the Motivational Gifts, which has also informed some of this article.
“Our personality types have intrinsic value because they bear the Creator’s image. Consequently, there is a different aspect of God that we can see through the different personality types we encounter.”
It is important that we serve God in a capacity that is consistent with our personality type. Not only will we find greater enjoyment in doing so, but those we serve will also benefit, as we will be doing something to which we are best suited.
So, how do we go about relating to these different personality types? Well, first of all, we must ensure that we do not impose our own personality type onto others. It is human nature to think that our own perspective is the correct one. However, it is important that we realise that God is the author of the different personality types (1 Corinthians12:18), and it is imperative that we allow people to be themselves. Have you ever had someone impose their personality type on you? How did it feel? I’m sure it wasn’t very nice. It is therefore essential that we do not do the same to others.
Secondly, if we are to relate successfully to the different personality types, we must be aware of the potential pitfalls of our own personality type(s), so that we can ensure that we are always walking in love towards others. For example, the Truth-Teller may lack tactfulness in the way he/she says things. The Server may misjudge those who are not ‘serving’ in the way he/she thinks they should. The Teacher may become proud. The Exhorter may become overly dependent on the feedback of those they counsel. The Giver may be taken advantage of. The Administrator may become overly controlling, and the Mercy personality type may become too lenient, etc.
Finally, we must honour and value the different personality types. The fact that God has created each of them indicates that in each person there is ‘gold’. Our personality types have intrinsic value, because they bear the Creator’s image. Consequently, there is a different aspect of God that we can see through the different personality types we encounter. Therefore, if you are putting a team together, don’t only include those who have a similar personality type to yours. Ensure that the team includes as many of the seven personality types as possible. That way, your team will be balanced. You will have a much more complete perspective on the matters your team faces.
Dr Stuart Pattico is an author and itinerant Bible teacher/preacher. He is available for national and international speaking engagements. For more details, visit www.stuartpattico.com.