Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Personlity Type and Spiritual Disciplines

I am teaching a 13-week class on Spiritual Practices. I think I am doing it for myself as much as anyone else. But I'm also doing it for the normal people in our church who are not mystics or don't care to learn about spiritual disciplines by reading a book that uses Latin and is over 200 pages long. I don't understand why something so simple as developing consistent rhythms of connecting to God has to be so difficult.

Tonight's session is about how our personality type affects the disciplines that we practice. I grew up thinking that there was a one-size-fits all approach to how I practiced my relationship with God. It was called a Quiet Time and it was supposed to happen when you first get up in the morning. After all, this is what the spiritual giants of history have done. In college I heard about the radical prayer life of Luther and then I later learned about how Pastor Cho in Korea prays three hours per day. In the late 1990s a popular book came out encouraging people to pray for one hour. I have been taught on the ACTS prayer pattern, the steps of the Lord's prayer and I have even used the stages in the Tabernacle as a way of praying.

But I have never been taught that the way I am wired in my personality impacts how I relate to God. I'm not sure why I always assumed that there was a one-size-fits all approach, but somehow I made this conclusion.

Now I am realizing my personality drives me to connect with God through reflection and intellection. I am an INTP on the Myers-Briggs profile and the book SoulTypes by Sandra Krebs Hirsch has been quite helpful. While I can connect with God in many ways, I am seeing that my primary portal for relating to him fits how he made me. I don't have to apologize or try to avoid being myself and try to be someone like Henri Nouwen or Larry Crabb in order to effectively walk with Jesus. I can be myself. I can find rhythms of connection that fit me.

This is a revelation to me. For many your response might be "Duh, who else might you be." But in a church world where so many are promoting steps and plans to fix your life, it is quite freeing to see why those plans don't work. I've wished they would. I've bought the promises of speakers and writers who provided the plans and the quick easy steps for a close walk with God, but now I am seeing how such a POV actually stands in the way of my relationship with God because I am not relating as a person to a person but as a robot to a list of steps.

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