I have many kinds of shoes…
Each shoe is different because each shoe has a different purpose. Leather shoes for my formal events; sandals for the beach; casual rubber shoes for walking around the mall, and mountain climbing shoes for… well, mountain climbing.
Here’s my big message to you today: In the same way that there are different kinds of shoes, God created you with a different personality because you have a different purpose to fulfill.
Who are you? Are you a pair of shiny leather shoes or a pair of rugged mountain climbing shoes? A pair of simple sandals or a pair all-purpose rubber shoes?
God designed every part of you—your intellect, your imagination, your emotions, your passions, your gifting, and your personality—so that you can do your sacred mission in life. In the fact, the Bible says, We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10)
And by the way, God has NO favorite personality…
God Doesn’t Prefer A Specific Type Of Personality
Let’s get something straight.
Some people think God prefers a specific type of personality.
Some people think that God prefers the personality of the character of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music—always cheerful, always smiling, always friendly, always twirling around and singing wherever she goes, “The hiiiiiills are aliiiiiive with the souuuuund of muuuuusic…”
Because people think that God favors a specific personality, they reject their own personality.
One day, a woman named Cely asked me, “Bo, is there anything wrong with me? I’m a quiet person. I’m shy. Compared to my friends, I’m very reserved and I’m almost dull. You see, I’m an accountant…”
I told her, “God loves your quiet personality! He created you to be you for a purpose.”
I told her that I have a fantastic accountant named Weng Cequena. “Everyday of my life, I thank God I have Weng in charge of all the accounting in my ministries and in my businesses. Like you, she too is very reserved and quiet. In fact, I’ll be very worried if one day, she comes into the office, twirling around and singing, ‘The hiiiiiills are aliiiiive the souuuuuund of muuuuusic…’”
By the way, what’s your personality?
Two Parts Of Your Personality
There are two parts of your personality— (1) the given and (2) the grown; Or (1) the inherited and (2) the influenced.
The given personality is your inherited personality. It’s written in your DNA. Even as a baby, you already had that personality. If you noticed, babies are so different from each other. I know of a baby who is like a nuclear-charged energizer bunny. You’ve got to tie him up. If you don’t, you’ll find him crawling in EDSA. But I know of another baby who is totally the opposite—he just sits down and doesn’t budge the whole day. There are also some babies who are so sociable, they smile at everyone like they were running for President. But there are some babies who look at everyone with a frown, analyzing if they’re human or alien.
The grown personality is the influenced personality. The positive and negative circumstances in your life shaped and molded your basic personality, skewing it into different directions. This includes your childhood, your family, your friends, and the triumphs and traumas of your life. (We’ll talk more about this next week.)
Let’s now talk about the 4 types of Personalities…
4 Kinds Of Personalities
Let me talk a bit about the 4 basic personalities (or what is called temperaments in popular psychology): Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic. I’ll explain what they are in a minute.
But let me warn you that there are very few persons who are have one personality type. Most often, we’re blends of two personalities. For example, people are Sanguine-Choleric, or Melancholic-Phlegmatic, or Choleric-Sanguine, or Phlegmatic-Melancholic, etc.
Let’s now discuss these 4 major temperaments one by one…
The Sanguine is symbolized by the dolphin.
The Sanguine has a cheerful, sociable, confident personality. He’s a skilled conversationalist. Each morning, when I walk around my village, I meet various personalities. Some are very shy and don’t greet me, some greet me with a quiet, “Good morning”, but some greet me like they were in a Broadway Play and the world is their stage. They give me a boisterous, over-the-top, sing-songy, “Gooooood Moooooorning, Broooother Bo! I loooooooove youuuuuuuu!” You can be sure, these people are Sanguines.
Here are the Dolphin Sanguine’s strengths:
• Life of the Party
• Fun loving
• Emotional and Demonstrative
• Easy to forgive
But each personality has its own weaknesses. Sanguines are so excitable, they love to volunteer to do things for others, but don’t depend on it too much, because they easily forget that they volunteered.
Here are the Dolphin Sanguine’s weaknesses:
• Lacks discipline
• Good starter but bad finisher
• Forgets things like names, schedules, assignments, keys, wallet, etc.
• Disorganized, late for appointments
• May be self-centered
The Choleric is symbolized by the Shark.
Why? Because this person is ambitious and has all the raw materials to become a leader. This person usually is the one who naturally takes charge in a situation. Great military Generals, Presidents of nations, and CEO’s of corporations are usually cholerics.
Here are the Shark Choleric’s strengths:
• Must correct wrongs
• Strong willed
• Thrives on opposition
Unfortunately, the most evil Dictators, savage Tyrants, Crime Lords, and Mass Killers are Choleric too. Adolph Hitler, who killed six million Jews, was choleric. Joseph Stalin, who probably killed 20 million, was choleric.
Here are the Shark Choleric’s weaknesses:
• Hypocrisy (because of pride)
• Cold and Heartless
• Ulcers, Hypertension, Heart problems
The picture of the shark above is from the Disney movie Nemo. In that movie, Bruce the shark became a friendly vegetarian. I have seen this happen, where God transforms a choleric into compassionate and humble leaders. It’s possible!
The Melancholic is symbolized by the oyster.
Compared to the Sanguine and Choleric, they’re introverted—but they have a beautiful and precious pearl inside. Great artists, sculptors, and painters are usually Melancholics. Inventors and scientists and accountants can also be Melancholics.
Here are the Oyster Melancholic’s strengths:
• Deep Thinker
• Good planner
• Hard working
• Sensitive to Others
• Finds creative solutions
• High Standards
But because they are inward looking, they tend to worry over petty things and get depressed at the cruel state of the world. My wife is Melancholic. She can get so affected by what she reads in the newspaper. Sometimes, she’ll tell me, “Bo, how can God put up with us? There is so much badness in the world?”
Here are the Oyster Melancholic’s weaknesses:
• Pessimist, Skeptical, Suspicious
• Prone to criticize oneself
• Prone to criticize others based on his high standards
• Not very adaptable
• Easily gets depressed
• May be too cautious
• Tends to hold grudges
• Lacks courage because of fear of shame
The phlegmatic is symbolized by the turtle.
Because he is the relaxed person with a big heart. He’d rather avoid conflicts if at all possible and would want everyone around him to get along. He’s the perfect mediator.
Here are the Turtle Phlegmatic’s strengths:
• Calm and Cool
• Avoids conflicts
• Can work with anyone
• Finds the easy way
But the Phlegmatic can also be so slow, so unreactive, so unemotional, it will drive everyone nuts.
Here are the Turtle Phlegmatic’s weaknesses:
• Easily abused and manipulated by others
• May lack ambition
• Sluggish or Lazy
What temperament do you have?
Two Things To Do With Your Personality
If you want to fulfill God’s purpose for your life, I challenge you to do these two very important things.
1. Use Your Uniqueness
Remember: The most painful thing you can ever do in your life is to pretend who you are not. Be faithful to the uniqueness of your personality and you’ll be happier.
There are religious people who mistakenly think that to follow Jesus, you have to bury your personality. That’s not true. That’s a wrong interpretation of dying to yourself. You die to your sin, yes. You die to your selfishness, yes. But not your personality.
You have to follow Jesus as YOU. Let me give you a controversial statement: Your life cannot be 100% for God if you’re not 100% You.
You have to be 100% you!
So accept the strengths of your personality. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Enjoy your personality!
You are talkative for a purpose. You are quiet for a purpose. You are analytical for a purpose. You are friendly for a purpose. You are laid-back for a purpose. You are musical for a purpose. You are reserved for a purpose. You are adventurous for a purpose.
Don’t reject your own personality. Don’t compare your personality with the personality of your brother, or sister, or best friend, or mother, or father… Often, I hear people tell me, “I wish I was like my friend who is friendly, cheerful, outgoing, artistic, prudent…”
Don’t be ashamed of your personality because your personality has wonderful strengths. Share the strengths of your personality. This is your special gift to the world.
Your personality is your voice. Your power. Your song. Your presence in the world. I don’t care if you’re an extrovert or an introvert, spontaneous or reserved, noisy or quiet, fast or quick, decisive or cautious, hot or cold… Just be who you are. This is how you will love. This is how you will fulfill your mission in the world.
If you’re talkative, then talk so that people can sit at your feet and be inspired by your stories; If you’re quiet, then offer a listening ear and let people cry and unburden themselves on your shoulders; If you’re a leader, then lead people closer to God; If you’re a follower, then support your leader and make it easier for him to lead; If you’re adventurous, then start new things—businesses, ministries, projects, friendships that will make this a better world; but if you’re more cautious, then use your gift of analysis so that people can make better decisions.
But what should you do with your weaknesses?
2. Work Your Weakness
Allow God to transform your weaknesses. Surrender them to God. Ask for the Holy Spirit to do a miracle in your life.
Remember that your strength is also your weakness. Because your strength and weakness are simply two sides of the same coin.
For example, a talkative person can either be very inspiring or very irritating—depending on the situation.
One day, I was talking to a couple who asked for my help. The wife was a Sanguine and the husband was a Melancholic. The wife told me, “Bo, when I met my husband, I was attracted to his stability. I’d be very noisy and he’d be very quiet. I’d be very excitable and he’d be very calm. He was so calm, when I was with him, I felt I was leaning on a brick wall. But after 9 years of marriage, he’s so quiet, whenever I talk to him, I feel I’m talking to a brick wall…”
I talked to the husband and he said the same thing. He said, “When I met my wife, she was so much fun. She brought music and laughter to my life. She talked a lot and I liked that, because I didn’t have to talk too much. But when we got married, I realized she was like a Radio that didn’t have a switch. I couldn’t turn the radio off. I couldn’t remove the batteries because it was motion-powered. Worse, she’d use her talkativeness to nag me.”
But I believe God can transform the weaknesses of our personalities. I’ve seen it happen.
One last thing before I leave this point…
God Doesn’t Make A Big Deal Out Of Your Weaknesses And Failures
Just a friendly warning. You might get so engrossed to fix your personality weaknesses, you’ll worsen the problem. (Anything that you focus on gets bigger.)
Here’s the truth: God doesn’t make a deal out of your weaknesses and failures. He just doesn’t!
Mothers—do you remember how you taught your babies to walk? You planted your knees on the floor, and with your most dazzling, most charming smile, you say, “Come, come, come!”
And your baby, with his fat, wobbly legs, holding the couch, finally stands… and does he walk? Of course not. He crawls to you like a puppy.
Mommy, do you make a big deal about his failure to walk?
Of course not. You laugh, carry him, blow his stomach and make funny noises, kiss his cute face all over, and prop him near the couch again for another try…
Mommy, where did you get that attitude?
That didn’t come from you.
You got that from God.
God is like that. He knows you’ve got weaknesses in your personality. It’s not a big deal for Him. Because He knows you’ll be getting better and stronger and taller and wiser…
I’ve seen sharks (Cholerics) who are still as passionate and strong-willed as ever, but by of God’s grace, have become loving and merciful sharks. They become the best leaders. I’ve seen dolphins (Sanguines) who are as cheerful and sociable as ever, but by God’s grace, have become more organized and orderly. I’ve seen oysters (melancholics) who are deep thinkers as ever, but by God’s grace, are more optimistic. I’ve seen turtles (phlegmatics) who are as calm and contented as ever, but by God’s grace, have become fantastic leaders.
Nothing Is Impossible With God
Let me end by telling you my story.
People are shocked when I tell them I’m a phlegmatic. “Bo, that’s impossible!” they tell me. “You’re always talking in front of people, so you must be Sanguine. And you’re a leader of many organizations, you must be Choleric. You can’t possibly be phlegmatic…”
But I am.
Even when I was a baby, my mother told me that I was a low-maintenance baby. She’d put me in a carton box beside the laundry woman and I’d just stay in that box the whole day. I was content with myself, happily playing with my toys, observing what was going on around me.
I even have a picture to prove it…
Today, I haven’t changed. That quiet, calm, low-maintenance baby is still in me. My wife tells me I’m a very quiet, calm, low-maintenance husband. She just lets me be inside my “box” which is my home office. And I’ll be happy writing, reading, thinking, and creating.
That’s why I believe nothing is impossible with God.
A phlegmatic isn’t a natural leader. A phlegmatic is a natural follower, supporter, listener, and mediator. But here I am, preaching for the past 33 years, leading a number of gigantic ministries and businesses.
But God made me phlegmatic for a purpose. Because I’m phlegmatic, I keep listening and keep learning. That has become my strength. I’m a sponge, absorbing wisdom from others. I keep growing! And because I grow, the organizations I lead keep growing as well.
I’m also a melancholic, so I’m a natural pessimist. And for years, I was one. Once upon a time, I’d wake up looking at the dark side of life. But through the years, God has transformed my weaknesses. Today, everyone who talks to me says I’m an incurable optimist. They say I always look at the bright side of life. That’s the gift of God.
I repeat: There is nothing impossible with God!
God can transform your weaknesses.
Surrender yourself to God today!
And may your purpose be fulfilled through your unique personality.
Anatomy Class: Different Body Parts
In Ephesians 4:16, it says, From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
What does that mean? We’re the Body of Christ. And each part is different. I believe the mouth of Christ are the dolphin sanguines, speaking God’s love to the world. The feet of Christ are the shark cholerics, to lead us towards God’s direction. The mind of Christ are the oyster melancholics, to think God’s thoughts. And the hands are the turtle phlegmatics, working quietly God’s ministry in this world.
God made you “you” for a purpose.
The world needs you to be you.
So be you!
To end this piece, let’s pray together. Pray this Psalm below…
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.(Psalm 139:13-16)
May your dreams come true,
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