“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3)
In the ancient world, the Greek physician and philosopher, Hippocrates, (460-370 BC) incorporated what he called “four temperaments” into his medical practice. These personality types were sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholy. His theory was that each one of these personality types was produced by the balance of our four main bodily fluids: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Of course, that theory was later proved wrong. However, Hippocrates’ theory opened up doors to the larger idea of being able to classify people by their personalities. Many years later, psychiatrists and psychologists are still following in the footsteps of Hippocrates, as they’ve come up with a number of ways to classify people by their personality types. (i.e. The Color Test)
No person can truly be jammed into a box and classified with faultless accuracy. In fact, labels and characterizations can sometimes be dangerous since they can produce characteristics rather than defining them. The goal of this study, however, is that each person can see their strengths and weaknesses more clearly – and think of themselves with “sober judgement”!
It is important to note that Jesus had all the strengths of each personality type, and none of their weaknesses. Therefore, as we learn to grow in the areas in which we are weaker, we can learn to become more and more like Jesus! (Colossians 1:28-29) Additionally, each one of the Bible characters that are attached to each personality type was an awesome man of God – and also a leader! Therefore these personality types should not make you feel like you are limited in your potential for God; but rather, they should help to increase your potential for God!
- Sanguine (Simon Peter)
- Description: Extroverted, generally very bubbly and joyful; loves to have “fun”; and tend towards a more persuasive style of communication rather than an authoritative style. If there is a group of people in a room, they are the most likely to say, “Hey, let’s play a game!”
- Needs: Desires approval and they have a felt need to be liked. They also need a lot of freedom, as they struggle when they feel claustrophobic.
- Fears: Not being liked or having approval.
- Weaknesses: Struggle to have structure, but they thrive with it. They tend to avoid conflict, and often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Can sometimes be deceitful because of their fear of conflict and the loss of social approval.
- Jesus’ Strategy: Believed in Peter; (John 1:41-41, Luke 22:31-32) rebuked him, and gave him clear boundaries and structure; (Matthew 16:22-23) gave Peter responsibility and kept him accountable to it; (Matthew 16:19, John 21:15-19) and reassured Peter of His love. (Mark 1:30-31, John 13:6-10)
- Choleric (The Apostle Paul)
- Description: Extroverted, dominant and authoritative; typically, very opinionated, focused and driven; has a very high ego, is direct, is very impatient; and they desire change, progress and success. They are the most natural leaders.
- Needs: Has to have a challenge, as they will feel unmotivated and bored without one; needs authority, significance, and the opportunity to have impact.
- Fears: Being taken advantage of or being marginalized.
- Weaknesses: Not in touch with weaknesses. Because of this, they can lack sensitivity and compassion for other people. Their aggressive nature can make them intimidating for other personality types, which can deprive them of valuable constructive criticism.
- Jesus’ Strategy: Overwhelm them. Jesus forced Paul to be in touch with his weaknesses by giving him a lot of hardship. (II Corinthians 1:8-9; 11:7-10) This allowed Paul to see his need for Jesus, and for others. (II Timothy 4:11)
- Phlegmatic (Timothy/Abraham)
- Description: Introverted, steady personality; typically very family oriented; is loyal, protective, and love consistency. Probably the most natural friends, as they tend to “go with the flow.”
- Needs: Security and acceptance. They need to feel safe! They have a hard time functioning when there’s chaos or a lack of familiarity around them.
- Fear: Change. They find comfort in things staying the same.
- Weaknesses: Can tend towards laziness. They don’t have a strong drive, as they are very laid back and easy going. They can struggle to make decisions, and lack dynamism and power.
- Paul’s Strategy: Reassured him of relationship, (I Timothy 1:2, Philippians 2:19-22) and encouraged him to be bold and forceful. (II Timothy 1:6-8, I Timothy 4:12)
- Melancholy (Moses)
- Description: Introverted, highly competent personality; are idealistic and creative, deep thinkers, perceptive, very talented, and good teachers; and they appreciate accuracy and attention to detail. Typically, they are very meticulous people who value excellence.
- Needs: Has a felt need to be appreciated and valued. They also thrive where there are high standards of excellence. They need to give their input and be listened to. Also, they need to engage in deep conversation.
- Fears: Hate being wrong and making mistakes. They often hold themselves to very high standards, and don’t do well with failure.
- Weaknesses: Tend to be very moody. They can allow their perceptive “critical” eye to become a critical heart; their fear of failure can paralyze them from taking risks; and they can also be very cerebral, and be poor in building interpersonal relationships that revolve around frequent communication.
- God’s Strategy: Was patient with Moses as He reasoned with him. (Exodus 3:10-17) Melancholy types need to know “why” for everything, and they can feel frustrated if it’s not explained to them, or if it doesn’t make sense. God called Moses to greatness, and pushed him to take risks. (Exodus 3:7-10)
Who are you most like ⏤ primarily and secondarily?
What is God’s strategy to help you with your weaknesses?