What's Your God Language?: Connecting with God through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament

Overview

In What's Your God Language? Myra Perrine describes nine types of spiritual temperaments and suggests disciplines and faith expressions that fit best with each unique temperament (or blend of temperaments). Drawing on her doctoral research that built on the work of Gary Thomas and others, Perrine calls readers to stop fighting the way God wired them and to experience a deeper intimacy with Christ by embracing ...
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Overview

In What's Your God Language? Myra Perrine describes nine types of spiritual temperaments and suggests disciplines and faith expressions that fit best with each unique temperament (or blend of temperaments). Drawing on her doctoral research that built on the work of Gary Thomas and others, Perrine calls readers to stop fighting the way God wired them and to experience a deeper intimacy with Christ by embracing their unique “spiritual circuitry.”
Features:
  • In-depth analysis of nine categories of spiritual temperaments
  • Spiritual temperament assessment tool for assessing one's individual temperament
  • Biblically supported and thoroughly researched
  • Written in a friendly, anecdotal style
  • Foreword by Gary Thomas
  • Web site with additional intermediate and advanced exercises
The 9 Languages:
  • The Activist
  • The Asetic
  • The Caregiver
  • The Contemplative
  • The Enthusiast
  • The Intellectual
  • The Naturalist
  • The Sensate
  • The Traditionalist
Tyndale House Publishers
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The Five Love Languagesmeets Myers-Briggs at church? It sounds like the setup for a joke, but it's actually the premise of a book, and a decently thoughtful book at that. Perrine, who specializes in pastoral counseling and spiritual formation, draws upon Sacred Pathwaysby Gary Thomas, who provides a foreword here. The idea is that individuals relate to God in very different ways, and should tailor their spiritual practices to capitalize on their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. This individuality is nothing to be ashamed of; rather, Perrine insists, we must rejoice in the startling human variety God has created. Perrine offers nine basic spiritual types: the activist, the ascetic, the caregiver, the contemplative, the enthusiast, the intellectual, the naturalist, the sensate and the traditionalist. Readers are invited to take a diagnostic quiz to establish their primary temperament, which they can learn more about in the second half of the guide. The idea for this book is not new; Marita Littauer explored religious temperaments in Your Spiritual Personality, and the Gallup organization presented helpful statistics along these lines in Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community. Still, it's a worthwhile read, especially for pastors, youth workers and other church leaders. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

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What's YOUR GOD LANGUAGE?

Connecting with God through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament
By Myra Perrine

TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC.

Copyright © 2007 Myra Perrine
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-1322-1


Chapter One

WHAT IS A SPIRITUAL TEMPERAMENT?

Beth and I sat together in her living room drinking glasses of iced tea. Young parents of three, Beth and her husband were leading a large inner-city mission team, and Beth had asked if I'd come to help her sort out her spiritual life. Since I'd arrived, she'd told me about her recent move to the neighborhood, her freshly painted bedroom, and a bit about the kids. But I knew that once we settled down to tea, the spiritual concerns that were heaviest on her heart would begin to unfold.

On that hot summer day, Beth apprehensively told me her story. She said she felt dry spiritually, distant from God, that it had been a long time since she'd sensed God's presence or His leading in her life. Then she reluctantly confessed, "I actually haven't had a significant time with the Lord in months. My husband can sit at his desk, read his Bible, and journal for hours, but honestly, the only time I even feel close to God is when I'm in my garden."

Her garden. Beth continued to talk, but somehow I wasn't tuned in to what she was saying. My mind was riveted on the word garden. Vaguely picturing another garden, I found myself speculating about Eden, the setting where theCreator first interacted with His creation. Not a desk or a book or a journal. A garden.

A tiny bubble of sadness rose from my heart and burst on the surface of my thinking as I wondered what had happened. When did the very place the Lord first chose (and the Son selected in His most desperate hour) become so unacceptable? What had happened to narrow us so?

I stopped Beth midsentence and asked if we could go back and talk more about her time in the garden with God. Then we pondered together the Garden of Eden, deciding that since the Lord Himself initially chose it, perhaps the garden was indeed a sensible place to meet with Him. In fact, it may even be the optimal place for intimacy to occur, amid the earth, the plants, and the beauty of growing life. As we thought about the mystery of what is natural and organic, we both affirmed God's original choice.

Then with a bit of uncertain delight, I added my support of Beth's meeting place, sanctioning it as her very own "sacred space." With affirmation from me, Beth's eyes softened and the embarrassment faded from her face. A daughter of Eve had been given permission to meet with her Maker-genuinely, honestly, truly-in the place she felt most comfortable being herself.

That day as I got into my car, I wondered if I was feeling the same thing Peter felt long ago when he heard the Lord say, "Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean" (Acts 10:15, NLT). Something significant happened in my heart as I encouraged my friend to relate with God more authentically-in the breadth and depth of His creation. I saw in a more fundamental way my own need to help the Lord's people fully appreciate their own uniqueness, especially since diversity is one of God's core values. (After all, creating millions of distinct galaxies was His idea!) I longed for those who love the Lord to experience Him in His expansiveness, knowing firsthand that there is ample room for all to love Him-Father, Son, and Spirit-in a variety of ways.

MY ROLE AS A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR

That summer day with Beth was just one of many days I've spent listening to the stories of people who love Jesus. There is Jillian, a particularly sensitive young woman whose style of loving Jesus is best expressed in caring for troubled youth. And Della, who is moved heavenward most powerfully when reading a theology book written a lifetime ago. And Tim, who connects best with God while sitting on his noiseless balcony at one o'clock in the morning.

Dealing with spiritual differences has become an important element of what I do. In fact, everywhere I go people ask how they might find more meaning in their relationship with Jesus, feeling their churches are not teaching them enough of what they need for their personal lives and struggles. Leaders often come for help, because in spite of their real need for spiritual connection, they simply aren't connecting! We talk about their spiritual dissatisfaction-how they hunger to know the Lord in His fullness, yet they just don't know how to make that happen for themselves. They know how to serve God, and they feel pretty good about that. But they realize there is more depth to this journey, and many just can't find their way.

Interestingly, some of these people have already turned to sources outside the evangelical church to find answers. The growing popularity of Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton demonstrates the hunger for more than what is now being offered in many evangelical circles. As Sam Metcalf, president of Church Resource Ministries, observes:

One of the interesting phenomena that we see among the emerging generation of leaders in our post-modern world is a renewed interest in the liturgical. What I have noticed is a fascination, search, and even longing for a sense of historicity, rootedness, and tradition. There is too often a shallowness and even triteness that characterizes Western evangelicalism. Awe, grandeur, and a sense of transcendence gets lost sometimes in our groping for relevance.

It seems that even among those who have walked with God for a long time, it is still uncertain territory knowing how to move into deeper communion with Him. We are hungry-not for more to do, but for more of God Himself. The generic "one size fits all" formula for spiritual growth simply isn't cutting it. Serving as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director, I've observed that there is a real need for permission among those who are serious about Jesus to meet Him in ways that don't exactly correspond with how others are meeting Him in their homes or communities of faith. In fact, this theme continually emerges in my conversations: "I want to connect with God more deeply, but I don't know how. And the way someone else does it isn't working for me. Can you help?"

Thankfully, there is help for these people. Our God-who is so vast and broad and wide-does want to meet us, and He seems intent upon doing that in a variety of ways. We don't have to worry when the book our friend finds helpful doesn't help us. Nor do we have to wonder why we feel most alive having a hearty discussion about theology in our Sunday school class while others prefer sitting in the congregation singing hymns. Because God created us differently, judgmental thoughts and misunderstandings don't have to accompany disparities between Christians. Yes, part of these differences in our spiritual wiring can be attributed to spiritual gifting, but when it comes to enjoying God, some things cannot be explained simply by the spiritual gift categories.

THE "ONE GOD, MANY RELATIONSHIPS" PHENOMENON

While "wiring" may be a catchword born of modern thinking, the idea of nuanced differences in knowing the one true God has been evident throughout Christendom. What moves one person toward loving and serving God is often very different from another's approach, and some have described these differences as the "one God, many relationships" phenomenon, recognizing that what inspires, fills, and provokes us spiritually is often not the same. Bill Hybels discusses this in his book Courageous Leadership:

Years ago I began to notice that various leaders whom I respected went about their walks with God in vastly different ways. The variety was stunning to me. I started keeping a mental list of all their different approaches. Then I came across a book called Sacred Pathways, written by Gary Thomas, which further pushed my thinking on this subject.... Sacred pathways are like doors that open into a room where we can feel particularly close to God. Just as different leaders have many different personalities and combinations of gifts, so they have many different spiritual pathways.

I, too, have become aware of these differing spiritual pathways in my work. But spiritual variations took on new texture and meaning during my doctoral work in spiritual formation. 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. Often these spiritual preferences were not given expression; instead, people seemed to be doing what they were taught to do, almost afraid of what they enjoyed. When this occurred, I noticed that spiritual satisfaction declined, as did a person's sense of closeness to God. Even spiritual hunger waned when a person was not relating to God as he or she was wired to do. The relationship I saw between spiritual preferences and spiritual practices intrigued me as well, especially when I noticed that by matching preferences with practices, a person's passion for God might actually increase.

I also found that many times people need to be invited to do what they enjoy most in their relationship with God. Without that permission-that freedom-Christians can become stuck in old patterns, even though these patterns are not working for them. Thus, I saw the importance of activating that which flows most naturally from our hearts to God's, namely, knowing our spiritual temperaments and how we are uniquely wired.

THE SPIRITUAL TEMPERAMENTS

When we talk about the spiritual journey, we don't often hear about "spiritual temperaments." We may hear folks discussing their spiritual gifts or how their personalities affect their prayer lives, but we find little language to explain the most central issue of our lives-how we most deeply love and connect with Jesus. While one person may recognize that his heart for God grows stronger when he is taking a stand against evil, and another might sense that her passion for God rises most while she is sitting in a cathedral before a life-size statue of her Savior, we may not realize that these differences are not arbitrary or random; they are the result of our spiritual temperaments.

When we use the language of spiritual temperaments to describe our spiritual preferences, we are talking about how our inclinations and distinctions fall into identifiable categories, groupings that help us understand others and ourselves more readily. Gary Thomas, the originator of the spiritual temperaments concept, has described these innate spiritual pathways in his book Sacred Pathways: Discovering Your Soul's Path to God. He discusses nine ways to draw near to God:

The Activist-loving God through confrontation with evil

The Ascetic-loving God through solitude and simplicity

The Caregiver-loving God through serving others

The Contemplative-loving God through adoration

The Enthusiast-loving God through mystery and celebration

The Intellectual-loving God through the mind

The Naturalist-loving God through experiencing Him outdoors

The Sensate-loving God through the senses

The Traditionalist-loving God through ritual and symbol

I used these descriptions in my own doctoral work and found them to be helpful and enlightening. The Naturalist, for example, senses God's nearness when he or she is outside, while Ascetics find their love for God most stimulated in a simple environment of silence and solitude. Of course, the ways people relate to God may surpass these nine, but the categories provide a good starting place for assessing our spiritual wiring. Each of these spiritual temperaments will be described in detail later, in chapter 3.

Answering Some Basic Questions

Since the concept of spiritual temperaments has not been widely discussed, let's look at a few common questions.

What exactly is a spiritual temperament?

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 space." Our spiritual temperaments influence where and how we are quieted inside, and where and how we most often sense God speaking to us, refreshing us, and stirring our passion for Him. We might say it is where we most often hear "the gentle invitation of Jesus to dwell with Him." 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 Him another way.

Just as one person may prefer football to golf, or skiing to mountain biking, so a spiritual temperament is a preference in the spiritual realm. While a personality temperament identifies our preferences when interacting with people and the world around us on a horizontal plane, a spiritual temperament identifies how we interact with God and the spiritual realities on the vertical level. Unlike other mere preferences, however, when we neglect our spiritual temperaments, we often feel dry and lifeless spiritually.

It's important to note that spiritual temperaments are not intended to be neat little boxes that conveniently explain everything about us. Instead, they are ways to help us understand how and why we do things a certain way. They are simply pieces of the puzzle of our complex makeup and are not meant to function as permanent labels that completely define us.

Do we choose our spiritual temperaments?

Just as our personalities seem to come as part of the birth package, so our spiritual temperaments seem to be God-given, not something we select. Indeed, we see differing spiritual temperaments within the same family, and spiritual preferences can be observed in a child even at an early age. As soon as spiritual likes and dislikes appear, a spiritual temperament may be revealing itself. But throughout life, we all have choices, and these choices play into the equation of who we become, even in the spiritual realm. For example, though I may enjoy praying in solitude, it is my choice whether to join a monastery or simply become a member of a prayer group in my local church. Although initially my preferences may have been innate, my choices-along with the choices of others who influence me-will certainly play a role in the person I become.

Why does God give us spiritual temperaments?

I like to think of a spiritual temperament as a genre, a way that God is using to tell His story to us. As Ken Gire explains in his book Windows of the Soul, in the beginning of time there was God and humankind. Then came a great temptation, a great Fall, and a great hiding. Perhaps God knew that we would continue to hide unless He found a way to communicate with us, to break into our distracted lives and penetrate our hearts with the reality that we are loved by Someone outside ourselves, Someone who is constantly watching and waiting for us to step into life with Him. So He crafted a way to remind us that He is always there, desiring to connect, and then He hardwired that reminder into our souls.

Do you ever find that no matter what your relationship with God is like at the moment, the sight of a mountain range or the vastness of the ocean can literally stop you in your tracks and take your mind to the One who created this beauty? Or maybe the face of a child becomes a reminder of God's love, or some majestic piece of music calms your soul, directing your thoughts heavenward. We need these cues-prompts that stir our hunger for the divine, unseen realities-to point us to the Lord.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from What's YOUR GOD LANGUAGE? by Myra Perrine Copyright © 2007 by Myra Perrine. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................vi
Foreword by Gary Thomas....................vii
Preface....................ix
Introduction: The Great Invitation....................xiii
Part 1: The God Languages Chapter 1: What Is a Spiritual Temperament?....................3
Chapter 2: How Am I Spiritually Unique?....................19
Chapter 3: How Is My God Language Significant?....................39
Chapter 4: How Does My Spiritual Temperament Help Me Love God?....................97
Chapter 5: Denominations and Differences in the Church Today....................111
Chapter 6: The Lifelong Journey of Knowing a Loving God....................135
Part 2: The Spiritual Practice Exercises Chapter 7: Renewing Spiritual Passion, Pleasure, and Potential....................157
Chapter 8: The Activist....................165
Chapter 9: The Ascetic....................169
Chapter 10: The Caregiver....................181
Chapter 11: The Contemplative....................187
Chapter 12: The Enthusiast....................193
Chapter 13: The Intellectual....................199
Chapter 14: The Naturalist....................205
Chapter 15: The Sensate....................211
Chapter 16: The Traditionalist....................217
Notes....................223
About the Author....................229
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2007

    A reviewer

    I enjoyed this book because it helped me to understand how I experience God in my own life, as well as, how others might experience him differently than I do. It brought an awareness which allowed me to remove even more judgement from my life so that I could act with more compassion. Great book for leaders, as well as, individuals wanting to gain knowledge and awareness of how they can experience God's love and goodness in a deeper way.

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