Personality and Relationships: The Key to Opening Hearts

imgresWhile sipping tea and savoring a creme brulee, catching up on life and vacationing away from everyone this week, Sarah spoke aloud about the culture of our family.

"Each of us is so different and so complicated in the ways we are motivated in our lives, and yet, somehow, you made us feel that who we were was exactly the person God made us to be to live out our calling and story in this world. Personal affirmation is so very important to one's ability to believe that God will use them to change the world."

How interesting to hear the various memories and comments our children have made as they have reflected on our lives this year, after so much interaction with other moms who questioned them and wanted to know "what it was really like in our home," during the mom conferences.

Seeing the reflection of what is in their hearts could be threatening, but thankfully, they mostly have good memories and warm feelings about how they remember the community of Clarkson clan. I always feared they would remember my mistakes and vulnerable areas, but mostly they remember the love and closeness we all celebrated as the oxygen in our lives that covered over the mountains and valleys of our lives. Somehow, their love covered a multitude of sin.

Focussing on Relationship

 Ministry of Motherhood was the book I wrote after studying the life of Christ in relationship to His disciples and I was right in the midst of my children's growing up years. As I pondered Jesus: He loved them, spoke to them, spent morning, noon and night in fellowship with them. He served them by feeding them, by healing their relatives; He modeled to them what true Christianity would be by touching children and giving them His time and blessing them; touching lepers; giving women both moral and immoral His time and affirmation--He showed us how to live through His relationships with the people in his life. In reading scripture it's very obvious that He had a love for them, a compassion for them--not a list of rules on how to be sure you are acting righteously. These the Pharisees provided, not Jesus.

I am so grateful for all I have learned about motherhood from my study of Jesus. I sought to emulate Christ to our children.

He called Peter the rock--You are the man, Peter!

Thomas, a man in whom there was no guile--the just one, perhaps a lawyer personality.

John, the one Jesus loved. Definitely a feeler on Myers Briggs.

Each followed Him, but each had a different personal grid through which they learned to hear His voice and messages.

Even as Jesus treated His disciples differently, understanding the unique personalities God gave to my children, though, was a necessary foundation for reaching their hearts with the reality of Him whom I loved. Their God-given personalities provided the grid through which they would understand truth. To ignore the way they were uniquely made would be to seek to bring light through a lamp that was not plugged in.


Children, beautiful yet unique as snowflakes are always individual--no two alike!


What are some of the personalities and the issues that must be considered? Extroverts need to talk more, have more activities and people in their lives; introverts need more time alone to ponder, create, go into their inner vortex. Some have a larger capacity to work hard, others are more immature and need the grace of time allowed for growth. Some are relational and inspiring and have to talk a lot. Others are ponders and may feel pushed to have to be social.

God has given boys testosterone so that they may defend us--it automatically means they will have a tendency to be louder, more active, well, more boy. A boy should not be disciplined for being "boy".

Some children just really want affirmation and hugs and listening in order to "feel" loved. Others want you to do something with them--to play, to run, to go. Others want sympathy--and to have you understand. Still others, quality time. It differs with each child, just as each of Jesus's disciples were different and related to him differently, according to their values each uniquely held, because of background and personality.

We are to accept and cooperate with our children's God-given personalities because God has a work for them to do in this world according to His design for their lives. As their gifts, so will their calling be. It also means that if we want to be God's instrument to open their hearts, we have to study who they are and reach them according to the personal design of their heart.

And what I have found is that in ministering to my children and learning how to be a great "psychologist," I have also become more astute in ministering to the needs of others, because I have become better at observing needs and personalities.

Children and adults are not cookie-cutter copies of each other who can all be handled the same way--as a matter of fact, if we are handled as robots, we will rebel at impersonal ways of being treated. Human beings are complex and cannot be generalized into formulaic solutions, but long to be loved and valued as they have been made to be. 

Each child (and most adults, for that matter!) long for a mentor who "gets" them--knows and understands them and can reach their heart's passions and dreams. This is part of why the reality of our relationship with God as a real Person who can be known and interacted with, Who has feelings and plans and is so much more than words on a page, is so wonderful.

It does require faith to live in intimacy with the living God. He is wild and wise and loving, and deeply desirous of our personal, passionate love--not our robotic keeping of rules. And so, we must live in the tension of loving the unique design that our Artist creator crafted into the DNA of our children and learning how to build a bridge of our love to their heart, so that we can open up their ability to listen to the messages we live and speak. We are invited into a relationship with the living God, which is a pattern for how we live with our children.

And in reaching out to them as friends and real people with dreams, values, desires, insecurities and passions, we truly open them up to the very God who crafted them that way for His glory.