PERSONALITY That which makes you different from everyone else is your personality.

(Identical twins may look exactly alike but their personalities will differ.) Peter, Paul, and the apostles, are worth considering briefly. They were men who would greatly influence the course of history and had very different personalities. If you remember, Peter was a fisherman who walked away from the family business to follow Jesus. For three years he learned from the Master. Probably not educated, he still had a great understanding of the Scriptures. (Check his Pentecost message in Acts 2.) He was quick to proclaim Jesus as the "Christ, son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16) He spoke when he probably should have kept quiet on the mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-6). People have said he was impetuous. Then, at the crucifixion he denies he knows Jesus—three times. And yet, he seeks, and receives forgiveness and becomes a primary leader of the new social network boldly proclaiming the Gospel on Pentecost. He travels the empire proclaiming the message eventually residing in Rome where he is finally executed with his wife and others. Paul, if you recall, was a well educated man. He studied with the Pharisee, Gameliel. He was passionate about his Jewish faith. He wasn't satisfied just to see the Christians in Jerusalem persecuted and eradicated (Acts 8:3). He asked for letters that gave him permission to pursue the Christians into the Diaspora (those areas outside of Israel where Jews lived) (Acts 9:1, 2). He watched and guarded the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen, the first martyr of the church. He was persistent, passionate and committed. He would destroy this new sect. With his heart made up and with full authority he headed for Damascus. A lightning bolt, a voice, and he was changed. The things that made him a good Pharisee became the things that made him a great apostle. His persistence became 3 missionary journeys. His passion focused on "the way, the truth, and the life." The world needed to know this good news and he would see that they did. Painfully hard at times (1 Cor.) he was yet compassionate and pastoral when we consider his letters to Timothy. You are not Peter and you are not Paul. And you should not be. You are unique. No one in the world is quite like you both in appearance and in personality. You were created by God in a certain way for a certain purpose. We are all made in the image of God and yet each of us is different. Personality is just one of the ways in which we differ from one another. A short search on the web brings all kinds of definitions1 and tests. While you can’t trust everything you read, I recommend you try a test2 or two. They may indicate something about your personality type you hadn't seen before. These are imperfect methods and not definitive but tools that can be useful when well used. 1 http://psychology.about.com/od/overviewofpersonality/a/persondef.htm 2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/whatamilike/index.shtml; http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp; http://www.outofservice.com/bigfive/ http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/take-the-mbti-instrument/

Richard L Widener

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2/19/2010

Though personality tends to be consistent throughout our lives, we can modify, I believe, some of the traits. If considered an introvert it is possible to learn how to be more social and effective in social settings. If I am a “glass half-empty” type person I can begin to see the “half-full” glass. If I am the strong, silent type I can learn to become more sensitive and talkative. You may remain more comfortable in your original “package” but to serve God’s people better it may be necessary to adjust and reshape some “natural” tendencies. If you are an introvert and want to work on becoming more outgoing, you can do so. You can interact and meet new people bringing them into our relationships. While some people may look at you and think you are really outgoing, you will probably have times when it is necessary to get alone and just be by yourself. Personal time becomes very important. You need that time to keep a sense of balance in your life. For the extravert just the opposite happens. You may love being with people and can’t think of anywhere else you would want to be. An extravert is great at attracting people and getting people to know one another. It is important, though, for you to work harder at getting time alone with God and being quiet in front of the Creator. Begin to practice listening to people and being quiet and still. Even if this is mastered you will still need to be among people sometimes just because it is innate to your personality and is where you find strength. For your journal

What are some of your personality traits? If you took one or more of the tests include the results. Ask some close friends what they think your traits are and include them in your list. Explain which and why certain traits you may or may not have helped you as you walk into your leadership. Write out (and ask someone to hold you accountable) one thing you are going to do to try and modify a trait that needs to be changed.

Richard L Widener

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2/19/2010