Have you ever felt like everyone has a way to connect to God that feels authentic to them except you?

 

You have a friend who loves singing worship songs and has worship music in the car, their home, and loves going to worship nights. You have another friend who feels connected to God when they go on a hike or when at the beach. Another friend connects to God while studying theology and church history and another friend feels like God is present when they sit in silent meditation.

 

You start to ask God, ‘What’s my thing? How do we connect?’

The prescribed 20-minute quiet time devotional helps you read the bible, but you’re craving the experience of the presence of God that draws your faith deeper. You’re craving that ‘something special’ that all your friends, or those in your circles of faith, seem to have that makes them feel connected to the Divine. 

 

Maybe you join your friends for a worship night, a hike, a book study or a meditation and none of it feels like it’s fitting; it’s great for them and you enjoy your experience but the depth of meeting God there isn’t quite the same. Or maybe you have an amazing experience and feel so deeply connected to God but think, ‘well, maybe I just had a good experience because it was with great people’ and dismiss it as a one-off thing, hesitant to try this practice on your own.

 

When the world of spiritual disciplines opens up, it can feel overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you know if you’ll like something? 

 

This is where learning about Spiritual Temperaments can be a useful first step.

 

Your unique wiring is called your temperament.

It’s the “why” behind your personality.

It’s how you were created and what makes you, you.

It’s a little different from your personality because your personality is how you display your thoughts and feelings. In psychology, temperament broadly refers to consistent individual differences in behavior that are biologically based and are relatively independent of learning, system of values, and attitudes.

 

So, what’s a spiritual temperament?

 

From the book, ‘What’s Your God Language?’ by Dr. Myra Perrine:

“A Spiritual Temperament is the way we best relate to God, namely, our most natural and meaningful approach to connecting with God, knowing God, and loving God. A spiritual temperament serves as an entry point into greater awareness of Jesus– His presence and His love. It is that place where we almost effortlessly find what some have referred to as our “sacred place”. Our spiritual temperaments influence where and how we are quieted inside, and where and how we often sense God speaking to us, refreshing us, and stirring our passion for God-self. Our spiritual temperament serves as our “default mode” spiritually, the style we fall back on when we want to be with God and are not intentionally pursuing God another way.”

 

When we look at Spiritual Temperaments, it’s looking at the unique way we feel connected to God. Spiritual Temperaments were made popular through the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. In his book, he describes nine different spiritual temperaments that people tend to fall into that determine how a person worships and relates to God. His work has been expanded on by Dr. Myra Perrine in her book, ‘What’s your God language?’. 

 

In ‘What’s your God language?’ Dr. Myra Perrine, while completing her doctoral work in spiritual formation, surveyed ministry leaders as part of her doctoral project which led her to deep dive into the temperaments. She discovered that those who have felt their spiritual lives have gone stale, or like they are missing the depth of relationship with God they desire, found benefit in discovering their spiritual temperaments and engaging with spiritual disciplines that best speak to their temperament.

 

“As I began surveying ministry leaders for my doctoral project, discussing with them their spiritual preferences– their most fundamental, natural, and intrinsic ways of knowing and loving God– I began to see that greater spiritual passion resulted when people were pursuing God in ways they enjoyed and found most life giving.” – Dr Myra Perrine

 

People felt renewed and reconnected with the Divine. 

They felt known and loved and seen by God.

And, perhaps, diving into the spiritual temperaments can make the same a reality for you.

 

Below is a list of the nine different spiritual temperaments. As you read a bit about each temperament, perhaps you’ll already begin to see the places where you feel most connected to God as you live your daily life.

 

Naturalist naturally connecting with God through experiencing the Divine outdoors.

Naturalists feel closest to God when in the outdoors, surrounded by God’s splendor in nature, be it in mountains, the desert, the plains, or the beach. For naturalists, just being outside can dramatically increase their awareness of God, since witnessing the Divine in nature comes easily. 

 

Intellectualnaturally connecting with God through the mind.

Intellectuals are people who feel closest to God when they are actively and vigorously engaging with God with their minds. By understanding scripture and being involved in all forms of cognitive activity, they see faith as something to be understood as much as experienced. In fact, they get bored when their mind is not fully stimulated! 

 

Sensatenaturally connecting with God through the senses.

Sensates love using the 5-senses to know and experience God; taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. And also Kinesthetic; people who connect best with God through movement. Sensates are more aesthetically inclined. These are the artistic types, and they prefer creative and original music or even good architecture to open their hearts to God’s presence. Their worship is about seeing, hearing, feeling, touching and even tasting God’s presence.

 

Traditionalist naturally connecting with God through ritual and symbol.

Traditionalists lean into practices that have been part of christianity for centuries, and allow them to serve as an entry point into knowing a timeless God. They find great meaning by worshiping God according to set patterns — their own or historical ones. Something about continuity and sameness ushers in the presence of God for the traditionalist.

 

Asceticsnaturally connecting with God through solitude and simplicity.

Ascetics have a life that is much more of an internal one. They enjoy and require extended times of silence and solitude and enjoy a low level of sensory input and simplicity. They would rather shut out all forms of distraction to spend time with God.

 

ActivistsNaturally connecting with God through confrontation with evil.

Activists feel most engaged in their faith when fighting for social justice, helping those in need, standing up for the widow, the orphan, the poor, the marginalized.They see the evil and injustice in the world, and they want to confront it head on.

 

Caregivers naturally connecting with God through serving others.

The caregiver loves God by tangibly serving others. They see practical needs and move toward them. They feel most spiritually alive when serving, volunteering, or helping someone accomplish something.

 

Enthusiastsnaturally connecting with God through mystery and celebration.

Enthusiasts love God with gusto! They feed off the enthusiasm of other believers preferring to gather as a group to worship, and typically revel in God’s mystery and supernatural power. Deeply inspired by joyful celebration, enthusiasts are usually quite comfortable using emotion when praising God.

 

Contemplativesnaturally connecting with God through adoration.

Contemplatives enjoy basking in the intimacy and warmth of God’s love, and spending extended time simply delighting in God’s presence. They are God’s lovers, and they want to spend their time in God’s presence — adoring God, listening to God, and enjoying God. 

 

For myself, I remember the long road of discovery (or really, coming home and leaning in) to the temperament I am. My own story is punctuated with a childhood where the wonder of the star-filled sky, twinkling fireflies dancing in fields, sparkling snowflakes, and drifting fiery autumn leaves, all stirred me to dazzle at God’s wildly wonderful creation. As I began attending a church and reading faith-related books by recommend authors, all in an effort to ‘learn more about God’ and ‘deepen my relationship’, the wonder of the natural world seemed left behind for books and study and buildings where sanctuaries went dark and the lights on stage blasted as loud as the music. As I ventured into my yoga teacher training, spiritual disciplines ancient to the church found themselves freshly discovered and my faith began to feel renewed.

 

A key moment for me was the book ‘The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook’ by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. This book, a part of my master yoga teacher training program, invited me to flip to the pages of a practice called Visio Divina. Already familiar (and loving the practice) of Lectio Divina, Visio Divina (divine seeing) was laid out so beautifully and spoke to my childhood that naturally facilitated a connection to God throughout my younger years. As my curiosity grew, and as I began the study of Spiritual Direction, the temperaments were introduced to me through instagram and I was floored. This information, the information on the temperaments, felt like the thread connecting my soul’s deep desire for connection with God through all the practices of my childhood until now that drew me deeper into the heart of God.

 

Slowly, as I deconditioned myself from what I had been told to do and learned to listen to who God made me to be, my day’s started to begin without guilt of ‘shoulds’ or ‘doing what others do’ to find connection with God. My day starts with what has always naturally nourished my soul, where I have felt that connection to God as something more than someone to read ABOUT but someone to engage in this life WITH on a deeply intimate level. As I listen to my high leanings of my Naturalist, Contemplative, and Sensate temperaments, my faith life has come alive in new ways. Ways that truly come naturally. 

 

While I am grateful for my faith journey, I am honest to admit it could have been amazing to have learned about my temperaments earlier on. Had language of the temperaments been spoken about when I first ventured into a formal faith setting as a young adult, I can see how I would have felt ever more confident in where the Spirit was prompting me, instead of pitting disciplines against each other as if some were better or more ‘holy’ than others.

 

The temperaments allow grace.

They allow an appreciation for God’s detailed attention to creation of humanity with different temperaments that offer full, resounding glory and praise for God in a multitude of ways.

They allow a deeper, unfolding awareness of self, of God, of others, all as wonderfully created and allow an extension of curiosity when someone connects with God in a way different than ourselves. It creates space for conversation with others, removing the guilt and shame of trying to fit into boxes we weren’t made to be in, and learning to be confident in who God made us to be. 

 

And, perhaps most beautiful of all, it creates a growing desire for God’s-self within us. As we spend time with God in a way that feels soul nourishing for us, the desire to spend more time with God grows and deepens, inviting us to spend even more time with God. And a heart that is full of Love (our love for God and receiving that Love from God back) impacts how we interact with every other thing in the world around us.

 

Curious to learn more or discover your temperament?

SPIRITUAL TEMPERAMENTS INVENTORY  from the book, ‘What’s Your God Language?’ by Dr Myra Perrine

Sacred Pathways – Gary Thomas

What’s Your God Language? Dr Myra Perrine