Knowing Ourselves Part 2

 

 

Home

Alex Tang

Publications

Articles

Spiritual writing

 

Nurturing/ Teaching Courses

Engaging Culture

Spiritual Formation Institute

My Notebook

My blogs

Books Recommendation

Bookstore

---------------------

Medical notes

Medical Students /Paediatric notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing Ourselves Part 2 (Personality and Spiritual Pathways)

by Dr Alex Tang

 

These good works, done in obedience to Gods commandments,

 are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith (James 2:18,22);

 and by them believers manifest their thankfulness (Ps. 116:12,13;

1 Peter 2:9), strengthen their assurance (1 Jn. 2:3,5; 2 Peter 1:5-10),

 edify their brethren (2 Cor. 9:2; Mt.5:16), adorn the profession of

the gospel (Titus 2:5, 9-12; 1 Tim. 6:1), stop the mouth of adversaries

(1 Peter 2:15), and glorify God (1 Peter 2:12; Phil.1:11; Jn.15:8),

whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto

(Eph. 2:10); that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have

eternal life (Rom. 6:22).

 

The Westminster Confession of Faith

 

 

1.                  What are Spiritual Pathways?

God loves us and desires a relationship with us. This relationship is intimate and personal.  As each of us has a different and unique personality, it follows that our relationship with God will be unique. We are to relate to God in the natural outflow of our personality.

 

One God, many relationshipsa sacred pathway describes the way we relate to God, how we draw near to Him

                                                                          Gary Thomas

 

All too often, we are told that if we desire to grow in Christ, we are to follow a generic all inclusive method which is often a variation of a quiet time and to come to church on Sunday. Some Christians thrive on the quiet time (intellectuals, ascetics, contemplatives) while others just struggle (sensate, activist, caregiver).

There are many ways we can relate to God. These ways are called spiritual pathways that

lead to a closer relationship with God. Broadly, they can be categoried into nine types.

 

 The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and  spiritless. We have forgotten that God is a person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can.

                                      A.W. Tozer

 

The nine spiritual pathways are:

(1)               Intellectuals: Loving God with the Mind.

 

      Live in a world of concepts

      Closest o God when they understand something new about Him.

      J.I.Packer, R.C.Sproul

 

(2)               Naturalist: Loving God Out of Doors.

      Nature proclaim God is

      Anne Dillard in Holy the Firm.

      Physical beauty mirrors the spiritual, unseen faith within.

 

When through the woods, and forest glades I wonder,

I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur

And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee,

How great thou art! How great thou art.

 

(3)               Sensates: Loving God with the Senses.

      Lost in the awe, beauty and splendour of God.

      Drawn to liturgical, majestic, grand.

      5 senses

      Incense, intricate artitecture, classical music, formal language

      Gregorian chants

 

(4)               Traditionalists: Loving God through Ritual and Symbols.

      Historic dimensions of faith: rituals, symbols, sacraments, sacrifice

      Ritual and structure.

      lithurgies

 

(5)               Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity.

      Like to be left alone n prayer no pictures, nothing alone in prayer in simplicity.

      Fundamental, internal existence

      Michael Card (Things we leave behind)

 

Every heart needs to be set free

from possessions that hold it so tight

Cause freedoms not found in the things we own

Its power to do what is right

With Jesus, our only possession

Then giving becomes our delight

And we cant imagine the freedom we find

From the things we leave behind

 

(6)               Activists: Loving God through Action.

      Confrontational

      Define worship as standing against evil and calling the sinners to repentance.            

      Energized by interactions with others, even in conflicts

      Francis Schaeffer

 

(7)               Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others.

      Worship God by serving others.

      Serving others recharges them

      Mother Theresa

 

(8)               Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration

      Inspired by joyful celebration.

      Want to sing, clap their hands and dance.

 

(9)               Contemplatives: Loving God through Adoration.

      God as lover: Bride and Bridegroom

      Love God with purest, deepest, brightest love imaginable.

      Mary of Bethany.

 

2.                  Personality and Spiritual Pathways.

Our personality has a strong influence on our spiritual pathways. The MBTI helps us to understand who we are. We have identified our strengths and weaknesses. The next step is to identify our spiritual pathway that allows us to be ourselves in our journey towards God. We must continually remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit is still the author and facilitator of our spiritual formation.

Whoever possesses God in their being, has him in a divine manner, and he shines out to them in all things; for them all things taste of God and in all things it is Gods image that they see.

                                                                                  Meister Eckhart, Christian mystic

 

3.                  Choosing a Dominant Spiritual Pathway.

This exercise will help you to identify your dominant pathway. Read through each statement careful and give it a score between 1-5. The minimum is 1 and the maximum is 5. (5 is given when you wholeheartedly felt the statement describes you exactly). The maximum for each category is 30.

 

(1)   Intellectuals: Loving God with the Mind.

1.                  I feel closest to God when I learn something new about Him that I didnt understand before. My mind needs to be stimulated. Its very important to me to know exactly what I believe.

2.                  I get frustrated when the church focuses too much on feelings and spiritual experience. Of far more importance is the need to understand the Christian faith and have proper doctrine.

3.                  The word concepts and truth are very important to me.

4.                  I feel close to God when I participate in several hours of uninterrupted study time- reading Gods Word or good Christian books and then perhaps having an opportunity to teach or participate in a small group.

5.                  A book on  A Theology of Word and Spirit would be appealing to me.

6.                  I spend more money on books than on music CDs.

 

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers_________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

(2)   Naturalists: Loving God Out of Doors.

1.                  I feel closest to God when Im surrounded by what He has made the mountains, the forests and the sea.

2.                  I feel cut off if I have to spend too much time indoors, just listening to speakers or singing songs. Nothing makes me feel closer to God than outdoors.

3.                  I would prefer to worship God by spending an hour beside a small stream than by participating in a worship service.

4.                  If I could escape to the garden to pray even when it is raining, or walk through the rainforest track or climb a mountain, I would be very happy.

5.                  A book with pictures of The Lakes and Rivers of Sarawak is very appealing to me.

6.                  Seeing Gods beauty in nature is more moving to me than understanding new concepts, participating in a formal religious service, or participating in community service.

 

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers. ________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

(3)   Sensates: Loving God with the Senses.

 

1.                  I feel closest to God when Im in a church which allows my senses to come alive- when I can see, smell, hear, and almost taste his majesty.

2.                  I enjoy attending a high church service with incense and formal Holy Communion.

3.                  Id have a difficult time worshipping in a church building that is plain and lacks a sense of awe and majesty. Beauty is very important to me, and I have a difficult time worshipping through second rate Christian worship or art.

4.                  The words sensuous, colorful, and aromatic are very appealing to me.

5.                  A book called The Beauty of Worship is very appealing to me.

6.                  I would really enjoy using drawing exercises or art to improve my prayer life.

             

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers. ________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

(4)   Traditionalists: Loving God through Ritual and Symbols.

1.                  I feel closest to God when Im participating in a familiar form of worship that has a lot of rituals and dated with traditions. Rituals and traditions move me more than anything else.

2.                  Individualism within the church is a real danger. Christianity is a corporate religion, and most of our worship must have a corporate expression.

3.                  The words tradition and history are very appealing to me.

4.                  Participating in a formal liturgy or prayer-book service (with responsive readings), and having many symbols like the cross or Bible verses that I can place in my car, home and office are activities I would enjoy.

5.                  A book Symbolism and Liturgy would be appealing to me.

6.                  I would enjoy developing a personal rule of conduct (life) for my prayer and daily living.

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers. ________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

(5)   Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity.

1.                  I feel closest to God when I am alone and there is nothing to distract me from focussing on His Presence.

2.                  I would describe my faith as more internal than external.

3.                  The words silence, solitude, and discipline are very appealing to me.

4.                  Taking an overnight retreat by myself at a retreat center where I could spend time alone in a small room, praying to God and studying His Word, and fasting for one or more days are all activities I would enjoy.

5.                  I would enjoy reading the book A Place Apart: Monastic Prayer and Practice for Everyone.

6.                  I would really enjoy spending time on a night watch, taking a vow of silence, simplifying my life.

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers. ________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

(6)   Activists: Loving God through Action.

1.                  I feel closest to God when Im cooperating with Him to standup up for His justice, writing letters to newspapers, joining a peace march, urging people to vote or become familiar with current issues.

2.                  I get very frustrated if I see apathetic Christians who dont become active. I want to drop everything I am doing to help the church overcome its apathy.

3.                  The word courageous confrontation and social activism are very appealing to me.

4.                  Activities like confronting a social evil, joining an NGO and being active in a political organisation are important to me.

5.                  The book written by Frank Schaeffer, A Time for Anger, would be an important book for me to read.

6.                  I would like to awaken the church from its apathy.

 

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers. ________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

(7)   Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others.

1.                  I feel closest to God when I see Him in the needy, the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned. I feel Gods Presence most strongly when I am sitting quietly beside the bed of someone who is lonely or ill or taking a meal to someone in need. You can count on me to offer a ride or volunteer for helping activities.

2.                  I grow weary of Christians who spend their time singing songs while a sick neighbor goes without a meal or a family in need doesnt get help in fixing their car or repairing their house.

3.                  The words service and compassion are very appealing to me.

4.                  I sense Gods power when I am counseling a friend who has lost a job, helping the elderly in old folks homes or spending a week in an orphanage in China.

5.                  A book entitled 99 Ways to Help Your Neighbor would be very appealing to me.

6.                  I would rather nurse someone to health or help someone repair their house than teach a church class, go on a prayer and fasting retreat, or take a long prayer-walk.

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers. ________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

(8)   Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration

1.                  I feel closest to God when my heart is sent soaring and I feel like I want to burst, worship God all day, and shout out His Name. Celebrating God and His love is my favorite form of worship.

2.                  God is an exciting God, and we should be excited about worshipping Him. I dont understand how some Christians can say they love God, and then act like theyre going to a funeral whenever they walk into church.

3.                  The words celebration and joy are very appealing to me.

4.                  I would enjoy attending a workshop on learning to worship through dance or attending several worship sessions with contemporary music. I expect God to move in some unexpected ways.

5.                  I would enjoy the book You Cant Walk on Water Unless You Get Out of the Boat.

6.                  I spend more money on music and worship CDS than on books.

 

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers. ________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

(9)   Contemplatives: Loving God through Adoration.

1.                  I feel closest to God when my emotions are awakened, when God quietly touches my heart, tells me that He loves me, and makes me feel like Im His closest friend. I would rather be alone with God, contemplating His love, than participating in a formal liturgy or being distracted by a walk outside.

2.                  The most difficult times in my faith is when I cant feel Gods Presence within me.

3.                  The words lover, intimacy, and heart are very appealing to me.

4.                  I really enjoy having thirty minutes of uninterrupted time a day to sit in quiet prayer and hold; hands with God, writing love letters to Him and enjoying His Presence.

5.                  I would enjoy reading The Transforming Friendship with God.

6.                  When I think of God, I think of love, friendship, and adoration more than anything else.

 

Q.1

Q.2

Q.3

Q.4

Q.5

Q.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total of all your answers. ________ Please register the score at the end of this section.

 

The scores for this assessment are:

 

Score

Spiritual Pathways

 

Intellectual

 

 

             Naturalist

 

 

                                                   

             Sensate

 

 

 

             Traditionalist

 

 

            

              Ascetic

 

 

 

              Activist

 

 

            

             Caregiver

 

 

 

            Enthusiast

 

 

 

         Contemplative

 

          

The higher the core in each category, the more it corresponds to what your spiritual temperaments are. List each temperament in order of its importance to your life:

1.      _________________________    _____________________

 

2.      _________________________    _____________________

 

3.      _________________________    _____________________

 

4.      _________________________    _____________________

 

5.      _________________________

 

6.      _________________________

 

7.      _________________________

 

8.      _________________________

 

9.      _________________________

 

Discovering our strong spiritual tendencies and predominant temperament together with the insight we have received from the Myers Briggs Type Indicator gives us the information we need to know what to emphasis and pray about for our own spiritual formation.

 

4.                  Learning from Alternate Spiritual Pathways.

Knowing our dominant spiritual pathway will make us more comfortable to approach God. There will not longer be the struggle in fitting into a mould of what certain church tradition demand of us, the guilt of not conforming, the envy of others who seen to have no problem in their spiritual walk and the boredom of doing things in ways that are foreign to our personalities. We should concentrate on developing our dominant spiritual pathway.

There are also advantages to explore other spiritual pathways. These alternate spiritual pathways will expand our horizon and let us enjoy our spiritual journey even more. For example, an intellectual may try a sensate pathway or an activist may want to explore the contemplative pathway. We may be out of our comfort zone but the experience and the reward of an encounter with God is worth the trouble.

5.                  Recommended Reading.

Thomas, Gary.  Sacred Pathways.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1996.  

This is a good book to read about the different spiritual which Thomas called the sacred pathways. I drew a lot of materials for this session from it. It is easy reading with many interesting stories. Highly recommended.

Beck, R. James. Jesus & Personality Theory. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999.

James Beck is a clinical psychologist and professor / head of the counseling department at Denver Seminary. Here we have a Christian professional looking at personality theory. However the emphasis is not on spiritual formation but on understanding the personality of Jesus. This book is recommended as an example of how Christian professionals are applying their training to enhance their understanding of theology. Unfortunately, this is not an easy book to read because of the many psychology jargons.

6.                  Personal Reflection.

In this exercise, you are to schedule a short retreat. It may be 2-3 hours, half a day or even a full day. Find somewhere where you may be uninterrupted for the period. Do something in your dominant spiritual pathway. The idea is to have a retreat with God. An intellectual may want to study a passage from the Bible, an contemplative may want to spend it in centering prayer or a naturalist may want to make a trip to the beach. Spend the time in prayer and in enjoying Gods Presence. You may want to do this alone or with one or two others.

 

 

Who Am I? Wer Bin Ich?

Text Box:

Who am I? They often tell me,

I step out from my cell,

composed, contented and sure,

like a lord from his manor.

 

Who am I? They often tell me,

I speak with my jailers,

frankly, familiar and firm,

as though I was in command.

 

Who am I? They also tell me,

I bear the days of hardship,

unconcerned, amused and proud,

like one who usually wins.

 

Am I really what others tell me?

Or am I only what I know of me?

Troubled, homesick, ill, like a bird in a cage,

gasping for breath, as though one strangled me,

hungering for colors, for flowers, for songs of birds,

thirsting for kind words, for human company,

quivering with anger at despotism and petty insults,

anxiously waiting for great events,

helplessly worrying about friends far away,

empty and tired of praying, of thinking, of working,

exhausted and ready to bid farewell to it all.

 

Who am I? This or the other?

Am I then, this today and the other tomorrow?

Am I both at the same time? In public, a hypocrite

and by myself, a contemptible, whining weakling?

Or am I to myself, like a beaten army,

flying in disorder from a victory already won?

 

Who am I? Lonely questions mock me.

Who I really am, you know me, I am thine, O God!

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Voices in the Night: The Prison Poems of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Share

Back to Top

               

"treat, heal, and comfort always"

 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  

 

     
Website Articles Spiritual Writings Nurture/ Courses Engaging Culture Medical Interests Social

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
           

 

  Creative Commons License

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is
licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

2006-2017 Alex Tang