Spirituality and personality – what floats your boat

There’s a linkage between the devotional pathways we take and our eagerness to share about Jesus with our friends.

I can be physically down but still willing and able to share about Jesus. But if the spiritual side of my life is down, then I feel unbalanced and I’m less confident about ministering to others.

It would be great if our lives could be driven by some kind of ‘automatic transmission’. Then another power could take over and we could live in ‘ministry mode’ all day.

The reality however is most of us seem to get stuck in first gear as far as our spiritual side goes!

One reason for this dysfunction is our inability to understand which devotional pathways suit us best.

We are all unique. We think differently. We learn differently.

In The Pines’ Orientation week new course participants work through an exercise that helps them understand how they think and learn. This not only reinforces their own strengths but also indicates they will always need others.

Different personalities require different devotional pathways.

Bill Hybels did some research on this topic using a book by Gary Thomas called Sacred Pathways. Bill categorised some of these pathways and his thinking has helped a lot of us discover the pathways that fit us best.

Here are a few of the possible pathways. Which ones suit you?

The pathway of the intellect. Last night I watched an absorbing documentary on the life of C S Lewis, the creator of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lewis had a brilliant mind. I was struck by his intellectual struggle when he said, “It is such a painful thing for an atheist to admit that God exists after all!”Lewis approached God through his mind.

To some degree we all need to utilise our minds as a devotional pathway.

But some Christians love to study the Bible with commentaries and study guides. They feel most alive when they ‘understand’. They get excited when a speaker challenges them to think.

The pathway of meditation. There are other Christians who lack the discipline of lengthy Bible study. When they read their Bible, it is not so much to learn but to hear God speak.

They enjoy lengthy conversations with the Lord. They enjoy devotional exercises and services that are rich in symbolism. They may feel that too much noise intrudes on their sense of God’s presence. These people are often quite intuitive.

The pathway of community. Many new Christians find it difficult to discipline themselves to commit time each day to be with the Lord. They have to learn to feed the spiritual dimension of their lives. They find meeting with a disciple-maker enriches their sense of the presence of God.

Others are so stimulated by other people’s ideas and prayers they have difficulty following a devotional pathway alone.

People like this thrive in the context of small groups and public worship that allows for relational exercises.

The pathway of service. Some of us are ‘wired’ to come alive when we are on the cutting edge. We discover God’s presence in serving others and in extreme experiences where our faith is put to the test.

Most people who go on a mission trip, whether it is to an exotic place overseas or to somewhere new near home come back changed. They meet God when they move out of their comfort zone in obedience to His voice.

It is probable the people who serve us tea and coffee after Church or the person working the computer in the Church office experience a deep sense of satisfaction because they are serving God.

Which pathway leads you regularly into God’s presence?

Are you ready to learn to meet God through another pathway? What can you learn from others?

It’s not a case of one size fits all!

Everyone is unique and God is big enough to meet every one of us in unique ways. And let’s face it when you meet the Risen Lord at the beginning of the day, you are ready for anything, especially the chance to tell someone what Jesus means to you!

~Colin Stoodley

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