Can I Embrace My Unique Spiritual Temperament? With Gary Thomas [Part 2][Episode 106]


Did you get to hear last week’s episode of the 4:13 Podcast? I sure hope so! It was the first part of a two-part conversation with author Gary Thomas that continues right now! And, friend, it’s so good!

God may have wired us differently, but He created us to need each other. Let’s support and learn from each other. [Click to Tweet]

If you’ve already heard Part 1 or read the show notes for it, then you know that you have what Gary calls a spiritual temperament or sacred pathway. It’s the way you’re uniquely wired to relate to God. We explored the first four temperaments: the naturalist, the sensate, the traditionalist, and the aesthetic. But don’t worry if you missed it. You can go back and listen to it here.

In this episode, we continue this fascinating and helpful conversation as Gary unpacks the last five temperaments.

For those of you who may not know Gary, he’s one of my favorite authors and thinkers. Gary’s the author of nineteen books, including one of my favorite books, Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God, which this conversation is based on. He has a master’s degree from Regent College, where he studied under Dr. J.I. Packer and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree from Western Seminary. You may have seen him before on CBN or heard his familiar voice on the Focus on the Family Broadcast and Family Life Today.

So get ready to learn more about the spiritual temperaments and to discover yours. Plus, you’ll get to hear what my and KC’s sacred pathways are. You’re going to learn so much!

The Spiritual Temperaments: Part 2

Before you learn about the last five spiritual temperaments, you can review the first four spiritual temperaments here.

  1. The Activist. Activists feel closest to God when they’re in the midst of making change, advocating, or fighting against injustice. Gary explains that activists desire to champion a cause. They’re trying to bring justice on a macro-scale and feel the most alive when they believe they’re fighting God’s battles. Their cause may be evangelism, social justice, poverty, violence, abortion, or something else.
    God builds His Church by having different people with different passions. [Click to Tweet]

    Gary says that activists may be tempted to believe that nobody else cares enough about their cause. As a result, it becomes their primary focus, and they try to turn the attention of others solely toward this issue. While the Church does need these messages and passion, it’s also important for activists to learn that worshipping God isn’t just about the bigger issues or going on a crusade. Sometimes they also need to be the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), who helps the individual who’s hurting.

  2. The Caregiver. My friend, Paula, is a caregiver. Gary explains that caregivers feel most connected to God when they’re meeting others’ needs in His name. It might be caring for the sick, listening to a broken heart, providing meals, or painting a house. It’s even possible they have a job as a social worker or on an EMT team, and they’re rescuing others.

    A caregiver may think they’re the opposite of activists. While activists are trying to solve social problems, caregivers are trying to care for the victims of these problems. Caregivers don’t really want to sit in a picket line. Instead, they are focused on the one-on-one. They want to bring soup to someone who’s sick or sit with someone in the hospital. But, as Gary shares, it’s helpful for caregivers to learn that sometimes all of us need to stand up for the bigger issues.

  3. The Enthusiast. Enthusiasts are excited and tend to be an extrovert—just like KC! Yep, this is his spiritual temperament. Gary shares that enthusiasts love to worship God by celebrating Him. Because of this, they’re likely to love an all-night worship service with little or no preaching.

    Enthusiasts also love the mystery of the Gospel. They feel the most alive and connected to God when God moves supernaturally, and there’s no natural explanation for it. For the enthusiast, taking spiritual risks is a necessity. They are likely to wake up in the mornings and pray something like, “Lord, I ask that You bring someone into my life today who I can minister to.”

  4. The Contemplative. Gary says that contemplatives are those who have a very emotional one-to-one relationship with God. They adore God and seek Him as their most intimate relationship. For them, sitting in quiet makes them feel closest to Him. They may even describe themselves as wanting to sit and hold hands with God.

    The delight and satisfaction they find in knowing, relating to, being affirmed by, and listening to God are powerful examples to those around them. Their spiritual temperament is crucial for the Church because it reminds others of the joy they can find in God alone. In our busy and noisy culture, the intimacy contemplatives have with God in times of silence represents what we were all created for.

  5. The Intellectual. Sister, this is my spiritual temperament! Gary says that being an intellectual isn’t about intelligence—you don’t have to be brilliant to have this be your pathway. (I’m proof of that statement!) For intellectuals, their hearts are awakened to God through new truth. Understanding new things about God gives them a new appreciation and wonder for Him. They want something that, as Romans 12:2 says, transforms them through the renewing of their minds. As an intellectual, they’re drawn to sermons and to book studies.

    Gary shares that there are several pitfalls intellectuals need to be careful of falling into. At times, intellectuals may be so moved by a particular truth that they love it more than they love God. Or, they’ll defend a truth like it’s God Himself. Intellectuals may also believe something so firmly or confidently that they get judgmental or practice knowledge without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Lastly, sometimes intellectuals’ knowledge doesn’t translate into doing. Yikes! So, if this is your sacred pathway like it’s mine, we need to be intentional in applying what we learn.

Good stuff, right? What’s your spiritual temperament? Whether you’re a caregiver like Paula, an enthusiast like KC, or an intellectual like me, we all need each other!

The goal of finding our sacred pathways isn’t so we can make everyone else join us there. It’s not to build our way, but it’s to build God’s kingdom. As we each discover our spiritual temperaments and understand others better, it helps us see how God uses each unique pathway to build His body and His kingdom.

So, grab Gary’s book, Sacred Pathways, for yourself or read it together with people you love—like your small group at church or your friends and family. And remember, whatever you face, however you feel, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

Related Resources

Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild

More from Gary Thomas

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