Individual Style. Personalities studies have always fascinated me.
To help us better grasp the various personalities let’s use a simple tool. Florence Littauer has influenced me the most when it comes to personalities. So I will use the four she uses in her writings: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic.
Our space is limited, but these few descriptions should allow you to see where you fit.
I have watched people take jobs that simply did not fit their personality. If they had better understood themselves, life would have been much more enjoyable.
Sanguines love people, love to talk, and love to have fun. On the downside they can be motivated by their emotions. Popularity is their theme. They like to be the center of attention.
Choleric people love to be in control, do things their way, and thrive on the task at hand. Production is their theme.
Melancholy people thrive on order. They can’t stand chaos and clutter. Perfection is their theme.
The Phlegmatic personality loves people, loves to listen, and prefers to do things the easy way. You can tell by those things that their theme is Peace. They are not a fan of conflict. Sure most aren’t, but they are the peacemakers.
So where does David fit in? As a writer of many of the Psalms it seems clear that we could put him in the Melancholy category. While many melancholy people are less likely to share their deepest emotions, David clearly did. Since we all have a primary and secondary personality let’s put his secondary personality in the Choleric grouping.
As a choleric David thrived on challenges, excelled during times of crisis, and was very decisive.
Growth Phase. We have already mentioned David killing a bear and a lion. Evidently he was not ready for the giant until after those encounters. Also there were many lessons regarding leadership and servanthood that God could teach him while he was alone tending the sheep. Too often we find ourselves thinking we are ready, when in reality we are just getting warmed up.
Lead sheep….kill a bear and a lion…kill Goliath….lead an army….lead Israel as king. David grew during each phrase as God was preparing him for what He had prepared for him: Lead the nation of Israel.
Alan Redpath commented, “The conversion of a soul is the miracle of the moment; the manufacturing of a saint is the task of a lifetime.” If we could only be patient enough until the timing was right. No one wants to eat a cake if it comes out of the oven too early. Too often we run ahead of God while He is still manufacturing us.
Natural Abilities. While David was tending sheep he developed the skill of slinging. He also was being prepared by God as shepherding was exhausting work. Think of the patience David developed as sheep are among the dumbest animals. Add in unfavorable weather elements and predators. You become good at planning, thinking ahead. You also get a lot of time to reflect, which is something foreign to our fast-paced culture. Think how valuable this was for David as he penned many of the Psalms. Who hasn’t been touched by the twenty-third Psalm. It would be hard to find someone who has never heard of it. Yet what are the first words? “The Lord is my shepherd…” His natural ability, that of a shepherd, taught him much about God.
Three Things You Can Do Right Now
What if we looked at our makeup from six vantage points? That is, what if we could discern in a practical way how God made us?
Let’s take a closer look at David and see how this plays out from a practical viewpoint.
Desire. All of us have desires or passions. When David met Goliath, David had a passion for the glory of God. He simply could not tolerate anyone disparaging the name of God.
1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NLT)
45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that theLord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is theLord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
David was frustrated that someone would speak about God the way Goliath did.
Experience. David spent many lonely nights out in the field leading and protecting the sheep. We find out later that he had actually killed both a lion and a bear barehanded. Those experiences would soon prove valuable. He had no experience wearing the attire of a soldier, so he resorted to his experience with the sling.
1 Samuel 17:38-39 (NLT)
38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.
However, David had a lot of experience with a sling. David was able to use that experience to kill the giant.
Spiritual Gifts. Rather than paint David into a corner, it becomes obvious that he has the gift of leadership. He does things leaders do. He takes the initiative. He takes responsibility. He casts a daunting vision.
Romans 12:6-8 (NLT) lists several spiritual gifts. The list is not exhaustive, but it does give you an idea. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
I will only comment on the gift of leadership since space here is limited. As a leader David took his responsibility seriously.
In my next post we’ll look at the remaining components of your profile.
A few years ago I went to downtown Charlottesville and bought a guitar. I am not even close to a musician. So why did I do that? Because I thought I should work on a weakness. Who knows, perhaps if I could spend hours upon hours and learn how to play a few chords I could make a difference. Fat chance!
When I was in college I was not a fan of literature. As a result, my lack of interest led to me getting a ‘D’ in the class. My professor called me in to see if she could uncover the problem in my life. I was straight up with her. I told her I did not like literature. Not trying to hurt her feelings, but I was being honest.
So she proceeds to ask how I was doing in my other classes. Hated to break the news, but I had ‘A’s in all my other classes. Why? Because I loved those classes. They all centered around my major, my main interest, my strength if you will.
In the end I got rid of the guitar. Buying it was a huge error on my part. I have since given up trying to work on my weaknesses. Forget about those areas you get a ‘D’ in. Focus your attention in the area(s) where you get an ‘A.’ That’s where you are truly gifted. Stir it up as Paul says.
Have you identified what gift or strength you need to stir up or improve upon?