Have you ever taken a personality test?
People around the world have used personality profiles to understand each other better. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses has become a trend, especially in Christian circles. The information can be a helpful tool for teambuilding and for leaders, to know how best to motivate the people who serve them.
I have taken many of these tests over the years and emerged with a series of “labels” designed to define me. I’m sure you have, too!
I know, for example, that I am equally balanced between introversion and extroversion (although my husband might question the “balanced” part!). I love a good party, love connecting with people, but recharge alone and need some time to “regroup” after a series of social events.
I am a researcher, a teacher/trainer, a high achiever, a creative, a prophet with a pastoral bent, an intuitive “feeler” and a very passionate person. I have been called melancholic, choleric, a leader, a judge, a mystic and - help me Jesus - a "Beaver!"
What are you?
More importantly, who does God say you are? How does God define you?
Here is what I believe God is saying to us today: “I want to develop personality in you - not YOURS but MINE!”
God knows who we are. He knows what labels we’ve been given. He’ll even use our strengths and weaknesses for His glory. Yet ultimately, He wants to infuse us with HIMSELF, filling us with His Divine Personality.
THE LIMITS OF LABELS
Labels can be a helpful starting point in understanding what the Bible calls the “old man:” our sinful, fallen nature and our pre-programmed “defaults.” In other words, the way we will act if left to ourselves. But labels have limits.
For example, I know that if I had to choose, I’d pick solitude over social engagements most of the time. Why? Because it’s easier for me to connect with God that way. People and their problems can be wearying to me, a writer/thinker at heart and one given to contemplation!
Yet people hold the key to my growth. It’s how God designed us! The Lord wants us to understand that unless we become part of a community, we will never grow beyond the level of our own knowledge and understanding.
To put it more bluntly, “lone rangers”- people who never grow beyond an intellectual, ego-centric, or “teenage stage” of growth (i.e., “It’s all about me, folks!”) into a heartfelt, other-centric, loving application of who they are and what they know will remain immature. They’ll be stuck in their own self-made worlds of wonder!
Knowledge is powerful but also seductive, and can ignite our pride. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
Am I suggesting that we ignore the worldly wisdom we have about ourselves and how we best function? No! I am suggesting that knowing the self is only the beginning. Our knowledge of ourselves should drive us to the cross of Christ because in seeing our weaknesses we realize just how much we need His strengths!
THE DIVINE PERSONALITY
I am by nature an avoider, not a confronter. However, when I bring this characteristic to Jesus in prayer, He makes me bold! I think many of you can probably relate to this. Woundedness often creates fear, which holds us back from doing the things we’d like to do. Christ died to heal the wounded places which accentuate our negative personality traits, emphasizing instead our new, Divine personalities. (See Ephesians chapter 1.)
The Divine Personality is part of your inheritance as a believer! (Have you read Ephesians 1 yet?!) The Holy Spirit is a PERSON. To be surrendered to God the Holy Spirit, to yield our nature to Him, is to be infused with the Divine Personality. It is to die to the old man and live to Christ, whose personality is perfect and complete in every way!
When I pray, when I am flowing in the Spirit, surrendered to what God is doing at the moment, I become as bold as a lion! The desire to “avoid” things evaporates! A spiritual “sharpness” activates on the inside of me. I have clarity and discernment, and I know intuitively what to say or do. It is as though all my senses are on “high alert” and I am able to function with renewed perspective and very intentional purpose.
Why? Because the old me is gone, and the new me is IN HIM!
When Old Testament prophet Samuel anointed King Saul, he said, “The Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed into a different person. When these signs have come, do as the occasion demands, for God is with you…” (1 Samuel 10:6-7)
Hallelujah! Say this with me out loud right now: I may be one thing in the natural, but I’m something else entirely in the Spirit! IN HIM, I am perfect and entire, lacking nothing! (James 1:4.)
God has a new personality for me - His - which is perfectly attuned to the needs of those around me, ready to serve in any capacity, and able to “do as the occasion demands” because I am no longer limited to my old man. I have a new, Divine Personality living on the inside of me! Praise God!!!
You are not deficient. You will never have to be like someone else, nor do you need to promote yourself to gain ground in the Spirit.
God has planted you in the BEST POSSIBLE LOCATION for such a time as this. BECAUSE YOU KNOW HIM, you already possess everything you need for life and godliness!
All that you need, everything you lack or feel you are not, is found by digging into God’s unlimited, omnipotent personality in prayer.
What is seen in the natural is only the surface of things. Everything of value lies beneath, at the heart of man and in the deeper recesses of your being. These things are pulled out by prayer and praise and proclamation. Seek to develop not the external nature but the internal, spiritual nature of God within you, which will then emerge from your heart and transform you into the new man you were designed to be! (John 7:38-40)
One last thought: Even though God is with you on the inside of you, there are things that can ONLY be learned in the context of family and community. (If you missed last week’s podcast, please click here for more on that.)
We are called to be perfect, complete, and mature in the Spirit. Although we are deeply loved, we’re not meant to stay where we are!
Knowledge of God renews and transforms the mind (Romans 12:1-2), but community - fellowship with God and His Body - renews and heals the heart. (1 John 1:3) Community is the place where we develop the beautiful “bedside manner” of the Spirit, the qualities of compassion, understanding, and love.
I love the great variety of personalities we have in the Kingdom of God. I love that some of you are “Otters,” full of life and spunk and joy, and others are “Lions,” leading us capably and firmly to new realms in the Spirit. I will probably always love doing the work of a “Beaver,” being industrious and using the materials at hand to build something great for God.
What I love most, though, is seeing the places where the personality of God shines through, eclipsing natural personalities and replacing them with power and glory so amazing it cannot be attributed to anything but the Divine.
I love that place of yieldedness and surrender in the Spirit that opens the way for an unlabeled, unlimited God to act mightily in our world!
Prayer, for me, is this. To lay aside the old in favor of the new. To be cleansed of all the man-made labels and limitations which bind me and allow God to take me on a journey of risk and faith that results in utter joy - not at my own strengths but at His! To reach a place of laid-down awe and wonder at Christ in me, the hope of glory. To say, “My God, how great thou art!”
© Deborah S. Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com
Deborah Perkins is the founder of www.HisInscriptions.com, a ministry designed to help you "Discover Life-Giving Communication with God." She lives in New England with her husband, three teenage boys, one cat, and four feisty chickens. Want to learn more, join a mentoring group, or sow a seed into this ministry? Click here for more info!
Free Link to the Subscriber Resource Library when you join His Inscriptions!
A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.