Personality Puzzle

I enjoy working jigsaw puzzles. When I was a boy I could spend hours either by myself or with my Mom, who also loved them, working puzzles. We would always start with the straight-edge pieces (the frame) and then work in toward the middle. Many of our puzzles were bought at garage sales, and sometimes we would get to the end and a piece would be missing. Frustrating!

Best I can tell from personality assessments, I am a mild introvert. I love people, and I have people skills. One cannot survive long in ministry without them! But I get recharged in alone time, not in the big crowd or the loud party. When I fly on an airplane, I would just as soon a stranger sitting next to me would read a book and not engage in a flight-long conversation.

Introversion is only one piece of the puzzle of one's personality. Here's another: either being more task-oriented or people-oriented. Again, one does not make a very good Pastor without caring for people. But I tend to be task oriented. I have times when I am on a deadline and the task at hand makes that phone call feel a bit like an interruption. I thank God He taught me long ago that every interruption is an opportunity for ministry.

There are many other pieces to the puzzle of our personality. Do you think in logical propositions or in pictures? Do you need concrete facts or are you wired to think in abstractions?

There is no right or wrong personality. Every personality expresses a reflection of the image of God as He has created us. Every personality has strengths and weaknesses. And every human being has a personality that is marred by the effects of the fallen sin nature we all carry around with us. That's why I believe it is important to affirm the personality God has given us, find the purposes in life that fit our personality and submit it all to Jesus for the renewing of our minds.

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 12:1-2: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will." (NIV)

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

As I have experienced the working of the Holy Spirit in my life to make me more like Jesus, this renewing of my mind includes the transformation of my personality. But that does not mean He changes that personality. Rather He strengthens the positive parts of it for the ministry He has in mind for my life, while rooting out the parts that reflect my sin nature so they don't get in the way of that ministry.

So the introverted puzzle-worker part of me is a great fit for the study and writing that go along with being a Pastor who preaches and teaches. And the same part of me that instinctively reacts to the phone call while I'm studying with "No, not now. I need to finish this," is being transformed to then say, "Ah, but this person calling is important and I have the opportunity to care for them." Christ-like compassion trumps task-oriented tunnel vision!

However you are wired, I hope you will bring the puzzle of your personality to Jesus to fill in the missing piece. He is that piece. He completes the picture of our lives. He takes my personality wiring and fits it together with the work of ministry I am called to do, and He uses my life for purposes beyond my own abilities. A life fully engaged with Jesus as Lord is a life that experiences transformation by "the renewing of your mind."

Puzzle, anyone?

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