Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lectio: The Temperament God Gave You


{recommended reading}



I totally still have an inner 13-year-old who's obsessed with personality quizzes.  I feel forever thankful to my friend Beth for reigniting that particular little spark during our senior year of college, when she introduced me to The Temperament God Gave You.  Yes, you complete an extensive questionnaire in order to learn something new about yourself, but this is so much more than a quiz or being put in a box.  

Rooted in classical philosophy, the underlying principle of this book by Catholic husband and wife counselors Art and Laraine Bennet is that there are four distinct personality types that can be a deep source of greater self-knowledge.  According to this book, most everyone has a primary and secondary temperament which reveal who we are, how we solve problems, what we're good at, what we're not, and how it affects different relationships.  

I found myself nodding along, recognizing myself so clearly, as I read about my temperament (phlegmatic-sanguine, anyone?).  What I love about this book, and what I think sets it apart from other personality-centered reading, is how closely tied in it is with Catholic spirituality.  There are chapters that focus on what one's spiritual life tends to be like, according to one's temperament, and areas of weakness to watch for and grow from.  So, rather than just describing you to yourself, this book encourages you to become the most virtuous version of your particular self and gives you concrete ways to do it.  

I missed out on taking marriage prep evaluations like the FOCUSS test, which I've always been intrigued by but have heard mixed reviews of.  I know some people aren't like me at all and hate to do these little analytical quiz-type things, but I feel like they don't exist just to tell you something you already know, to act like they know you personally, or to oversimplify a person by sticking them in a category.  Read with humility, I think that the point, actually, is hardly just to learn about who you are and then keep it to yourself.  

The point, in my eyes, is to take that knowledge outside of yourself, so you can best love and serve everyone you come in contact with.  Can you see, then, why something like this could be such a valuable part of preparing for marriage?

Toss your two cents in!  Have any of you read this?  Any strong opinions on the temperaments or personality evaluations in general?  I'd love to know!





18 comments:

  1. I love that book! My Mom gave it to me when I was in high school, but I don't remember what I was. I should probably read it again...

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    1. That's awesome; I hope you dig it, Sarah!

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  2. I haven't read that book...but last year I was introduced to the Enneagram (it describes 9 different personality types and what other number/type is your "dominant" wing within that number). I've also done a lot with Meyer's Briggs, but I found the Enneagram intriguing because there are actually a LOT of spiritual books out there on this topic. So there's a lot of reading on how your enneagram relates to your spiritual life. Some books are definitely better than others, of course. :) Just thought I'd share because I'm like you - I love taking analytical personality tests!

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    1. I never heard of Enneagram; thanks for introducing it to me! I looked around online for a test and had trouble finding a more comprehensive one that was free--do you know any resources?

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    2. Some of the most comprehensive tests I've taken were in books I read on the topic - however, this brief online test is free and does a pretty good job! Here's the url: http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/dis_sample_36.asp#.UXl4FbWsiSo

      That site also discusses the different types in relationships - so if you have Andrew take it, too, you can read about your combo! ;)

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    3. Hi ladies,
      Not to intrude on the conversation, but please be very careful with enneagram stuff. It has a lot of New Age links: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/994/a_dangerous_practice.aspx. I think temperaments are a much safer bet.

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    4. I have heard similar things about the Enneagram before and I definitely think it's important to be wary of any personality test. Anything that tries to classify people as a particular type can be dangerous if the individual doesn't understand that God gives us free will and we certainly aren't bound by some "type." As long as it isn't studied as some alternative path to enlightenment I don't think it's necessarily a bad tool; each number supposedly tends to have one vice that can be harder for that personality type to overcome as well as a virtue often associated with their personality type - but of course these aren't always 100% accurate and shouldn't be taken at face value. Properly ordered, it should simply be used to become more self-aware and help us become better versions of ourselves. You are absolutely right, Emily, that people need to be wary of these kinds of things!

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    5. Good points, both of you. Thanks for the reminder to be prudent =)

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    6. Hi there, I came across this post and even though I know it's old, I wanted to chip in about the enneagram stuff. it's warned about in "Jesus Christ, the Bearer of The Water of Life" (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html). The now Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous was very clear in condemning it: http://bishopjulianporteous.com/?p=285

      I hope these articles are helpful and thanks for letting me chime in!

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  3. I love, love, love the temperaments! :) I'm a melancholic-choleric and my fiance is a melancholic-phlegmatic. It has helped so much in understanding his approach to life and how it might be different than mine! I think the temperaments combined with the 5 Love Languages helps to understand a person so much better!

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  4. I was recently given this book...looking forward to cracking open the spine soon!

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    1. P.S. There's another book by this couple called The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse, if you're interested more in how this plays out in relationships.

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  5. This books looks great! I think I am going to order it on Amazon right now. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Sweet; glad you're inspired, Megan!

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  6. This is so great, Stephanie! Wonderful book idea esp. for engaged couples. I love taking personality tests too. I took the Meyer's Briggs in college, and I think that got me hooked. :)

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    1. Thanks! Your comment gave me the idea that this book would be a fantastic engagement present! I've had to do the Meyer's Briggs on a few occasions, several years apart, and worried every time that I was going to come out with a different result! Luckily, my personality seems to have stayed consistent...

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