I have found that, ever since I have come to better understand temperament types, I am much less judgmental of other people, not just less judgmental of myself. Knowing their inborn, God-designed temperament gives me a compassion for them when they are in the grips of their weaknesses because I know what it is like to be tripped up by my own. It also allows me to more often see them as God sees them, which is perfected in their strengths.
It is very tempting, when someone has gone off the rails (or let’s be honest, simply doesn’t do things the way we do things!), to see them as a 2-dimensional caricature of themselves. We only pay attention to their negative side, forgetting that these character flaws or bouts of misbehavior are the negative side of their divine strengths and gifts. They don’t want to act that way, but it is difficult for them to overcome some of their weaknesses at that moment.
One evening, at a restaurant, both my husband and I had a reaction to one another that was not appropriate. He embarrassed me (and really annoyed me), and so I returned volley by “setting my boundaries” (which was really rebuking him like a child, a little too loud for that very quiet restaurant). The result was a steaming husband who refused to speak to me. When we got home after the silent car ride, I asked if he was going to be able to get past it and if he wanted us to spend the evening together. The response was an angry one, which I took as a “hell, no!”
As he walked away from the car, the temptation to refer to him as a lower orifice of the body rose up in my throat. I opened my mouth and pronounced the first syllable of the word, which begins like the “A” in “apple”. But God spiritually and suddenly clapped His hand over my mouth and rebuked me loudly and sharply by saying “NO! Not A********! BROKEN!”
I was stunned into silence. “BROKEN!” God knew that I knew that I was broken. I spend most of my time dealing with other people’s brokenness, and am able to be compassionate. Why was I not recognizing brokenness in my husband in this moment? Why did I feel superior to my husband during a momentary setback of weakness when I am absolutely no better than him in my moments of weakness?
It humbled me, quickly. All of the anger drained out of me. I saw Him for the first time during one of his “moments” as God saw Him. I also realized that is why God has compassion on me, because He knows my brokenness causes me to act in ungodly ways, hurting myself and others around me.
Similarly, once I realized that some temperament types are low or very low energy, I felt horrible about how we had all labeled my son as “lazy”, to the point that he refers to himself as that. But he isn’t lazy; his temperament is just very low energy and very slow to action. I told him the other day that I was very sorry for ever having used that word, and that he wasn’t lazy. That was just how God made him. He responded with a huge smile and a sincere thank you for saying that. I hope it helps him see himself in a new way now, instead of through that minimizing label we pinned on him.
In John 1:42, Jesus changes Simon’s name to “Peter”, which means “little rock”. Now, if you look at Peter’s personality, he was anything but a rock. He was wishy-washy, prone to exaggeration, flew off the handle according to his emotions, cut off someone’s ear, and denied Jesus three times.
But when Jesus looked at Peter, He didn’t see those things. He saw Peter, the “little rock”, standing in front of 3000 people on Pentecost preaching the gospel and standing for the unmovable truth, willing to die for Jesus. Now, Peter wasn’t perfect, and it’s not like his temperament was changed, but Jesus saw how Peter would be when living according to his God-given strengths, and treated him as He saw him.
I think this speaks volumes, especially when we see that Peter didn’t always continue to get it right, even after Pentecost. Jesus named him “little rock” even though he saw Peter further down the timeline, when He would be rebuked by Paul for acting like a Gentile around Gentile Christians (not requiring anything but faith for salvation), but then acting like Jews around Jewish Christians (a sect believed Gentile Christians must be circumcised according to Jewish law). Even though Peter wobbled a bit, Jesus always saw him, called him and treated him according to His strengths.
I am trying to take what God is revealing to me and apply it to all of my relationships. I truly want to transform the relationships that I have reduced to 2-dimensional, completely flawed caricatures into 3D, living color pictures taken through the lens of God’s compassionate eyes. Not ______________ (fill in the blank with the character flaw you despise in someone), but BROKEN! Lord, let that rebuke stay with me and change how I see everyone.
Your sister in Christ,