By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Distinct Christian Personality Type Exists

The new Pope has a striking personality and demeanor. He is quite calm, dignified, and clearly radiates humility and kindness. He is not enamored with himself or with what he possesses.

All of this reminds me of this question: is there a Christian personality type that applies to all Christians? I think so, as I reread parts of the famous song in 1 Corinthians 13:

1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

NIV Translation.

What would a psychologist say? I am not a psychologist, but I will make my guesses. First, what personality traits are excluded by the above?

Exclusions: arrogance, pride, narcissism, self-righteousness, anger problems, indifference to the feelings and position of others.

What is included?

I think Galatians 5--by the same songwriter--helps us here:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

NIV Translation.

Inclusions: non-pugnacious, gentle, calm.

I think we have always somehow known that there is a specific Christian personality type, but we tend to shrug our shoulders and just keep doing what we have always been doing.

In my personal experience, the key is maturity. As we mature--different people at different rates since I know twenty-somethings more mature than people in their fifties--we come closer to the Christian personality type. There is hope in that because time--the length varies by individual--brings great benefits. I guess that is why another trait of the Christian personality type is patience.

So, it seems to me to be delusive for people to overlook the significance of their personalities by somehow romanticizing what are in fact bad traits by such common euphemisms:

1. "I don't suffer fools." Translation: you have no self-control.

2. "I am proudly stubborn." Translation: you are an egotist who needs to have your way.

3. "I am outspoken." Translation: you don't care how words affect others.

4. "I have a strong personality." Translation: you are not compassionate.

5. "I am an ambitious person." Translation: you are grasping and possessive and possibly tyrannical.

6. "I am competitive." Translation: you are insecure and triumphalistic.

Let's be honest--many of the traits that we are proud of possessing are the antithesis of Jesus. Now, if you are not a Christian or do not care about the example of Jesus, then you can keep plodding onward. But, if you claim to be a Christian or fancy yourself a good person, you had better drop the convenient euphemisms.