personality mentality

In thoughts on God, thoughts on people on April 25, 2010 at 6:33 pm

aims to describe aspects of a person’s character that remain stable throughout that person’s lifetime, the individual’s character pattern of behavior, thoughts, and feelings.

my mom gave me this book about personalities.  at the beginning of the book is a simple test with lists of words, and you check the words that describe you best.  you find out your 2 main personality types, then read on through the book to understand yourself and others better.  i don’t know if i believe that there are specific categories of personalities which every person who has existed could fit into and that a book could explain that.

however, i think hippocrates and galen and all those other guys were onto something.  we as humans love boxes and formulas, because we can then have understanding, and from understanding, order.  and i think the Lord understands that and reveals truth in that way, too.

so, these guys and a whole bunch of other historic and genius people divide personalities into 4 main temperaments.  the temperaments have funny names but i’ve listed their basic explanations, which for copyright and legitimacy’s sake i will tell you is straight off of wikipedia.



The Sanguine temperament personality is fairly extroverted. People of a sanguine temperament tend to enjoy social gatherings and making new friends. They tend to be creative and often day dream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean very sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when pursuing a new hobby, interest is lost quickly–when it ceases to be engaging or fun.


A person who is choleric is a doer. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics.


A person who is a thoughtful ponderer has a melancholic disposition. Often very kind and considerate, melancholics can be highly creative – as in poetry and art- and can become occupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world. A melancholic is also often a perfectionist. They are often self-reliant and independent.


Phlegmatics tend to be self-content and kind. They can be very accepting and affectionate. They may be very receptive and shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious, and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats. Unlike the Sanguine personality, they may be more dependable.


most people are high on one temperament in particular, and then have a secondary strong temperament.  the blending of temperaments create these secondary categories of personality types.

this book in particular, entitled Personality Plus by Florence Littauer (1981), includes Biblical references to support strengths and sharpen weaknesses with each personality type.  sometimes those strengths and weaknesses are the same trait, just in different contexts.


like with any good book, i will read and internalize and then for the duration of my reading, i will see the whole world and the encounters i have through the lens of that book (and for that reason, i know what i’m letting myself read and watch and listen to is pretty important in a non-christianese-brainwashing sort of way).

i think for the small window of time i was reading the book, it was really beneficial to come from a place of understanding myself, my specific areas of weakness, which the enemy will happily oblige to use as a foothold at any chance.  and then, understanding my specific strengths, unique to my personality type, and  unique and crafted to me personally.  one line in the chapter “Let’s Cheer Up Perfect Melancholy” stuck out and hit me like a ton of bricks between the eyes:

“If you are a perfect melancholy, are you doing the very best you can to develop your innate abilities?”

that means, all those things that i know i’m good at but don’t see their intrinsic value because i see value in what everyone else is good at.  oh my gosh, am i in eighth grade??  Lord, take my singing, writing, and music back.  teach me how to be a good steward, because i do not know how.


it was also so beneficial for me to come from a place of relating to and understanding others.  i could see picks in the lines of relationships, and view them a little bit more objectively, not in terms of faults but in terms of how i work and how they work. the world tells us that if we give and do not receive something back in relationships, friendship, family, love, service, or otherwise, we should abandon ship to protect ourselves.  Jesus says we should give ourselves away, that He will honor tilling at a relationship like tilling a garden, picking out the weeds and doing all we can do maintain life, even if we can’t see the blooms.

  1. wow, this ministered to me like you don’t even know! thanks so much, samuel. even though we’re far away and haven’t seen each other in years, you are so dear to my heart. love you farty.

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