Other "Thinking Drafts" and writing by Keith Drury --http://www.indwes.edu/tuesday .
From: Holiness for Ordinary People by Keith Drury
(c) 1983 Wesley Press
Holiness and Temperament
What is temperament? Does entire sanctification give us a new temperament? Will it
make a boisterous extrovert into a calm and quiet individual? Or are we "stuck" with our
individual temperaments with little hope of changing in this life? What does holiness have to do
with temperament? These are questions we will examine in this chapter.
What Is Temperament?
The idea of people possessing differing temperaments is more than a thousand years old.
In this generation Tim LaHaye has popularized the ancient theory that all people fall into one of
four basic temperament types. Temperament is not character. Character refers to traits
developed through personal discipline, training, and God's grace. Honesty, loyalty, kindness, and
patience are character traits. No person may say he or she is born with a natural tendency to
these traits of character.
Temperament, on the other hand, is a natural inclination. We are born with it. Our
temperaments are set in our genes and honed by our environment and childhood. Temperament
is what makes some of us outgoing or extroverted, and others quiet, shy, and introverted.
Temperament is what makes one child bold and aggressive while his sister or brother is shy and
One analysis of temperament types deals with four basic temperament categories. These
categories may be named variously, yet they are generally quite similar. In this chapter we will
use four individuals to illustrate these basic types of temperaments. Please meet JoAnne, John,
Sharon, and Jim:
JoAnne. When JoAnne enters a room of people, she seems to "fill it up" with her
personality. She is talkative, personable, and outgoing. She loves people and seldom meets
anyone whom she considers a stranger. She flits from one small group to another, chattering
with each person as if that person is her very best friend. She easily gathers people around her
and rallies them to a task -- she is frequently called on to be a leader of something new. Where
there's action, you'll find JoAnne at the center of it.
John. Few people are as forceful as John. He seems to wind up as the leader of every
group he gets involved with. John is a hard driver, likes to get things done, a builder. He has no
trouble making decisions -- even for other people. Most folk recognize that his natural abilities
equip him to be the boss of just about anything. He likes to try new things and is always
launching some new project at home, at work, or in his local church. John is respected -- even
feared -- by most people.
Sharon. Sharon works with fifth graders all week, then spends most of the weekend
working with children in her local church. She is calm, easygoing, and well-liked by just about
everyone. She is systematic and so well organized that others marvel at the quality of work she
gets done with so little fuss. Though she does not get involved with everything, she will carry
through on any commitment she makes. Her loyalty is deep.
Jim. Jim is the opposite of JoAnne. He doesn't prefer to be in large groups; and when
he is forced into one, he would rather sit to the side and keep quiet. He is extremely creative,
artistic, and is a deeper thinker than any of his associates. He is always thinking of a better way
to do things. He blossoms into a chattering speech when someone talks about philosophy and
theory. Jim is extremely sensitive. People sometimes hurt him without even knowing it. When
he is "up," he can produce more ideas in a few minutes about how to do something than most
people can in several hours. He is definitely the most creative person in his group.
These four -- JoAnne, John, Sharon, and Jim -- represent the four basic temperament
types. Jim is a writer and part-time artist; Sharon is a schoolteacher; John is a boss; and JoAnne
is a district sales manager for a home sales company. Using the oldest categories of temperament
types, JoAnne would be "sanguine," John a "choleric," Sharon a "phlegmatic," and Jim a
Each of us usually leans toward one of these basic types of temperament. Of course,
none of us are 100% of any one temperament. Generally, we have a dominant temperament type,
a secondary type, while the other two remain recessive. Such temperament traits are a result of
our inherited characteristics and environmental shaping. Each of us is different and has his own
particular strengths and weaknesses.
The Other Side of Temperaments
So far we have only spoken about strengths of these four temperament types. On the
other side there are corresponding weaknesses or "besetting sins" for each temperament type.
JoAnne, John, Sharon, and Jim are all members of a "Covenant cell group." One week they were
studying the idea of besetting sins, and each requested prayer support for the areas where they are
tempted most. What were these requests?
JoAnne, the outgoing sales manager, confessed she was undisciplined in her devotions,
not submissive to authority, and feared that she was often too egocentric.
John, the boss, confessed a serious problem at home with anger, a tendency to be proud,
and that he often was dominating, pushy, and insensitive with his employees at work.
Sharon, the teacher, asked for prayer relative to her inclination to be stingy, her
fearfulness of launching out to do things for the Lord, her extreme defensiveness whenever
anyone offered her suggestions or advice -- especially her husband.
Jim, the writer-artist, expressed concern for his tendency to be critical of others --
always thinking of how they "ought to" do things, for his moody behavior at home, and his
negative attitudes of doubt.
Holiness and Temperament
Now, what does all this have to do with holiness and entire sanctification? Does
sanctification change our temperaments? Will JoAnne become quiet and submissive when she is
sanctified? Will God make John easygoing like Sharon? Will sanctification make Sharon
aggressive and generous? Will the Holy Spirit even out Jim's moods? What relationship does
entire sanctification have to temperaments?
1. Entire sanctification does not destroy our natural temperaments. Extroverts do
not become introverts. Pessimists do not become optimists. Aggressive, high-powered people do
not become passive and shy. Sanctification results in a refinement and a purification of our
natural temperaments. In sanctification, God harnesses and redirects our strengths. He provides
new power over our besetting sins. God needs an infinite variety of personality qualities to do
His work. He is not in the business of making cookie-cutter believers.
2. God's cleansing will bring a new power over besetting sin. This is one of the
reasons people differ so widely as to what God actually does through entire sanctification.
JoAnne may claim God gave her new self-discipline and a spirit of submission. John realizes a
fresh love and sensitivity for his employees. Sharon experiences a new motivation to get
involved. And Jim had a newfound power over his critical spirit. Each has experienced the same
work of God. Yet, the area of cleansing is different and quite related to his or her temperament
traits. Whatever our besetting sin, God wants to cleanse our hearts of the inclination to it. He
does this through entire sanctification.
3. As we grow in the sanctified life, God continues to mold our personality
strengths. He will help JoAnne harness her extrovertism to make her a better witness for the
gospel. He will gradually channel John's energy into leading other believers to accomplish His
work. He progressively strengthens Sharon's loyalty so that she becomes the "right-hand woman"
of the church. He will keep developing Jim's creativity so that it is directed into practical and
helpful work, and not mere theory. All this is accomplished as a sanctified person daily submits
to the Lordship of Christ. Heart purity may be the work of an instant. But continual growth in
Christian personality is a lifetime work.
4. Not only does the Lord develop the strengths of our own temperament, He also
brings us strengths not inherent to our own basic personality. This too is an ever-expanding
work of the Holy Spirit. As we submit daily to His work and leadings, He begins to bring
strengths to us which are largely foreign to our natural temperament. For instance, as JoAnne is
totally obedient to the Lord, she may become a leading example of self-discipline and submission
-- even though her basic temperament does not incline her to be so. A bossy John may become
exceptionally sensitive and loving toward other people. A defensive Sharon may become
extremely open and vulnerable. And an unsociable Jim may become quite friendly to a neighbor
he wants to win to Christ.
So while the initial work of sanctification immediately impacts us regarding our
besetting sins, God works progressively at developing our strengths throughout our entire lives.
This expanding work will bring personality strengths to us which are not even inherent in our
5. Perfect Christlikeness is found in the "Body of Christ." Evangelist Jimmy
Johnson is adept at making this truth clear. His idea: (A) Christ was the perfect personality -- He
exhibited all the strengths of all four temperament types. (B) None of us will ever arrive at this
absolute perfection of personality on earth. (C) Unbelievers must somehow, somewhere see this
perfect Christlikeness. (D) Perfect Christlikeness is found in the church -- the Body of Christ.
As we gather together as a Body, each with our own unique strengths, Christ is seen.
And, just as examining a finger or an ear does not give us a total picture of a human body, so
examining one individual believer will not give a total picture of what Jesus is like. Yet, the
corporate Body of believers illustrates pure Christlikeness -- one believer illustrates one strength
and another believer exemplifies a different strength.
This "corporate holiness" does not get us off the hook relative to personal holiness. On
the contrary, our motivation to become Christlike is greater as we recognize that we are part of a
grand Body of believers who together do, in fact, illustrate all the strengths of Jesus Christ. In
this sense we are truly part of the "Body" of Christ.
Thus, any search for a perfect example of holiness will lead the seeker to both the Word
of God and to the Body of Christ. In the Word of God we see Jesus the perfect example. When
the Body of Christ is taken as a total group, we catch a glimpse of the same traits of Jesus Christ.
1. Read Acts 8:1-2 and Acts 9:1-2. What kind of person was Saul/Paul?
2. Now read Galatians 2:11-14 answering the following questions:
a. Who is speaking here?
b. How did Paul "oppose" Peter?
c. Why did he oppose him so strongly?
d. What effect did Peter's action have on others?
e. What does Paul's action have to do with his temperament?
3. Read Acts 15:36-41. Answer the following:
a. What did Paul want to do here?
b. What brought on this sharp disagreement?
c. What resulted from their disagreement?
d. What insight from Paul's temperament do you have from this Scripture?
e. In Acts 20:36-38, what evidence of sanctification do you see of Paul's rugged
For Review and Discussion
1. What are the four basic temperament types? With which one or two do you identify?
2. What are the natural strengths of each of these types?
3. What are the inherent weaknesses of each?
4. If entire sanctification does not totally change our natural temperaments, how does it
relate to temperaments?
5. What connection do you see between temperaments, the Body of Christ, and holiness?
From: Holiness for Ordinary People by Keith Drury
(c) 1983 Wesley Press
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To contribute to the thinking on this issue, or to contact the writer e-mail Tuesday@indwes.edu