Way back in 1959 there was this popular song written by Lloyd Price and Harold Logan, and recorded by Price, titled “Personality“. The chorus says, “Cause you got personality. Walk, with personality. Talk, with personality. Smile, with personality. Charm, with personality. Love, with personality.” I don’t know why I remembered that song, but I did, and that chorus kept going over and over and over in this brain of mine. And it has inspired me to get back to what I should have been doing, but have been on a hiatus–writing!
I am not a song writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I could add a few more lines to that chorus. It goes like this:
- ‘Cause you annoy, with personality
- Alienate, with personality
- Hate, with personality
- Bully, with personality
- Whine, with personality
- Complain, with personality
- Wound, with personality
Remember my personal context from which I write. I am a pastor and in the last 3 years, have embraced my calling to be more than just a pastor, but to be a Kingdom Pastor. And here is where I’m going with all this. I have noticed that sometimes the Devil gets the credit for something he didn’t do, and God gets the blame for things He had no part of. Be patient and I will explain.
David wrote in Psalm 136:14 (NIV), “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” God created each of us, not in a cookie cutter kind of way, but unique and not all the same. In addition to certain abilities, God does give us a personality. But…how much of what we call personality isn’t really personality, but the result of choices and mind-sets (meaning how we see things, people and life) that have produced habits?
I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard people say, “Well, preacher, that’s just my personality that God gave me.” They treat it as if it were a gift from God and we should appreciate it, or at least overlook it if it is annoying or even hurtful. But not all personalities are God-given, especially when they annoy, alienate and/or wound others, even unintentionally. Perhaps I should have said, “Especially when it is unintentional.”
Do not blame God for your personality that is persistently and consistently abrasive to the point of doing harm. If I had just a nickel for each time over my 61 years I heard someone say, “Well, that’s just the way God made me” I would have enough to buy that 2017 Indian Chief Motorcycle I drool over. Not all personalities are given to us by God. Allow me to share a few personality traits that are not gifts from our Creator:
- The Guilt Tripper. This is the person who attempts to make you feel guilty if you do not go along with them.
- The Sweet Whiner. This person has a sweet, syrupy sound in their voice, even feigning piety. They try to talk with the love of God but….you know what I’m talking about.
- The Let The Chips Fall Where They May. This person thinks that truth is more important than a person’s feelings. When it comes to the truth, confrontation is always the answer. They speak the truth with their love but do not consider the consequences of their words. Straight forward is always the best option.
- The I Know What’s Always Best. This is the person who is the expert on all things important, and nearly always the expert on things that are not important.
- The Let’s Just Get Along. Unlike the The Let The Chips Fall Where They May person who thinks confrontation is always a good thing, they work hard to avoid confrontation. Some have developed this personality trait into an art form.
- The I Have Had More Life Experiences Than You So You Just Need To Follow My Advice. This is the person who jumps at the opportunity for a spitting contest. They have always had it harder and their wounds are always more severe.
- The Complainer. Unlike The Sweet Whiner, this person simply loves to complain. Enough said.
This isn’t the complete list. I think you get the idea. Often what is given the name “personality” is not innate to us, but the product of our own perspectives as well, our environment and even our culture. When I was in school I was way more introverted than extroverted. I had self-esteem issues. And now, if you asked someone who really knows me, “Is Randy an introvert?” After their uncontrollable fit of laughter, they would reply, “That’s a joke, right?”
But things that we call personality that are not personality can be so ingrained into us, that it is difficult to find and reclaim our true God-given personality. While every personality is unique, God-given personalities share the same traits. Paul lets us in on those traits in Philippians 4:8 (NLT), and it looks like this:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is
- true, (interesting thing about this Greek word–it comes from 2 Greek words. One means “Not” and the other is “Ignorant”. Ignorance comes from the lack of knowledge.)
- and honorable, (comes from the word that means “to revere” and to revere someone is to treat them with courtesy, kindness and respect)
- and right, (comes from the word meaning “following the commands of God”, and we know that God is pure, unconditional love)
- and pure, (means “pure from every fault”)
- and lovely, (means “with regard to” or “to move towards”)
- and admirable. (means “sounding well” or “sounds good”)
- Think about things that are excellent (means “any particular moral excellence”)
- and worthy of praise. (means “to sing praises in honour to God”)
If people find you consistently abrasive, if you notice people avoiding you, or if you’ve experienced people finding a quick excuse to get out of being in your presence, then these are very good indications that your personality is just that: YOUR personality. And so as to be very clear at this point, it is NOT the personality God has given you.
I admit that I try to avoid certain personalities as much as possible because they are toxic. I mean, would you want to swim in a pool filled with nothing but toxic chemicals? Just because we say, “Oh, it’s just the way I’m made” or “Well, it’s just one of my many gifts” doesn’t make it so. Years of living in the wrong personality does not just go away–but it can and it will if you take the hand of Jesus, listen to the Holy Spirit and accept the power God alone gives, then your personality can change–change into the one HE created, not the one you have settled for.
Remember, love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!