Knowing Who We Are

We have heard: we are wired differently. What does that mean? Each one of us does things just a little more unusual than someone else. In fact, some of us are down-right peculiar. What makes us different? We were created with different temperaments.

In 1984, our church had two services on Sunday. Many Sunday evenings we would have a social after the evening service. There was no place large enough to hold these social gatherings. We had room for about 25 in the pre-school building. There may have been as many as 100 attending these get-together times. I started pushing for adding on to the pre-school. We needed a room to provide for at least 200. Another elder and his wife, my wife and I were put in charge of raising money. How do you do that? It was suggested that we bring in an author who would like to market their book and would come fairly cheaply. We would sell tickets and anything raised above the cost of bringing in a speaker would go toward the construction. We chose Florence Littauer, the author of Personality Plus. Her lecture and her book have made a tremendous difference in our family and how we accept each other. Later, I found a book entitled: “Spirit Controlled Temperaments” by Tim Lahaye. His book re-enforced the importance of learning one’s temperaments.

Hippocrates over 2400 years ago divided people into four basic categories which he named Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy and Phlegmatic. Each temperament has both strengths and weaknesses. They become a part of our nature throughout life. Even though each individual temperament includes both strengths and weaknesses they are not always evenly balanced. It is quite possible for two people with identical temperaments to be as dissimilar as a banana and an onion if one of them possesses the strengths of this temperament and the other has its weaknesses. Negative or positive traits are often developed in childhood where one child grows up in a positive environment where parents are encouragers and another child grows up in a negative environment where parents are criticizers.

Ms. Littauer provided a test that would determine what a person’s temperament was. Not only did our family take this test but I had all of my supervisors at work do the same. I provided what the strengths and weaknesses were of each temperament. I then encouraged and challenged each of us to identify and overcome our natural weaknesses and enhance our natural strengths. It was valuable to know why some are extroverts and some are introverts. We then realized that youngsters and adults most often are doing the best they can with what they have to work with. Why is Johnny so different from Jimmy? Why does one supervisor build a team that has fun? Whereas, another supervisor may manage a team that doesn’t work well together. Why is it some people’s behavior is offensive or strange? Once we understand what their weaknesses are we are more likely to respond with a measure of understanding and tolerance up to a point. It is a must that parents understand why children say or do what they do.

If we have an aggressive child it is unfair to compare that child to a sibling who has a passive temperament. Each must be treated differently. In my study of temperaments I believe that the 12 sons of Jacob each had a different make up of temperaments. Each had a primary and a secondary temperament unlike their brothers. Jacob had 12 different personalities to deal with.

When our grandchildren grew to the age of four we were able to fairly well determine their primary and secondary temperaments. When one would do something outlandish we would all say: what would you expect from a sanguine? If one was controlling and always wanted their own way, we would just say: what would you expect from a Choleric? That doesn’t excuse a parent from disciplining children but it does help them to understand where their child is coming from.

My wife and three of our children are perfectionists and I am not. When my wife vacuums she moves every chair and does a thorough job. When I vacuum I hit the spots that are travelled the most. She would say: “If you are not going to do it right do not do it at all.” I have learned to say: “Would you like me to hit the high places until you have time to do a really good job?” If she says yes, then I do my normal job without criticism.

There are times when being a perfectionist is a must. I recently read an article by a preacher that was giving all kinds of statistics. In one illustration he said that the stock market went from a high of 14000 to a low of 6000. That wasn’t at all correct. The Dow Jones Average, not the stock market, went from a high of 14,165 to a low of 6,547. My reaction was: how much of the other statistics do I believe? I realize every time I read an article by him he may not always be giving me the true facts. However, generally he is worth reading because he really knows his Bible. It’s the statistics that he’s weak on.

Once you learn what your temperaments are, you should pray that the Holy Spirit would work on weaknesses and help you build your strengths.

Leave a comment


  1. this is too funny I remember when the preschool was added to the mojave church . also Diane is one of my best friends we have work with each other for along time and she is a perfectionist Im afraid to ask her to come to my home too funny any ways she also does what you say about what kind of personality you have.. now I know where she got it from.. this was great.. take care..

    • donaldboyd

       /  November 20, 2009


      If you remember when the pre-school was added you have been around a long time. Thanks for the comment!


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