For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. (1 Cor. 12:12 NKJV)
One of the greatest gifts that God has given us as believers is diversity in the body of Christ. Just as a puzzle is made up of differently colored and shaped pieces, and yet creates a unified image, the Lord has given us each unique personalities and gifts for use in the body of Christ. The world wants to unify all humanity by giving everyone the same opportunities and rewards, and dealing with diversities by either hiding them or exalting a few. Our God is very different. He has given to mankind and to the world the beautiful traces of uniqueness and yet in those very traces, He has also designed harmony and a repeating pattern that connects us all, just like a puzzle. The very thing that unifies us is the Lord Himself: one body, many members.
The world, acting as the enemy of our Lord, has tried over and over again to cancel the uniqueness of each individual. Instead it has sought to persuade people to love and accept what is common and equal. Thus, the world has sought to become one. Not seeking unity from diversity, but seeking uniformity of all diversity. This worldly thinking has entered the church so much so that this is what happens: individuals who either refuse or cannot give up their uniqueness are rarely understood and mainly isolated. Have you ever seen this scenario in your church?
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.(v.27)
Some time ago I happened to take part in a women’s conference. The theme was: Relations: obstacles or opportunities? Here is what I learned.
At the second session of the conference, the speaker presented a scenario where four different persons meet to sort out a problem in a church: everyone displays a particular character, and we were challenged to identify with one of them.
The first character was “the Winner”: a person who is solutions-driven and courageous, one who takes the shot and tries out what’s in their mind. They are usually leaders who take upon themselves responsibilities and can push others. This person may sometimes appear to be intimidating, extremely focused, has a bossy attitude, and is competitive and dominant.
We were then confronted with “the Enthusiastic”: a great communicator, always optimistic and creative. Usually, they are great encouragers and persuasive, but sometimes are impulsive and not very good at organizing the things they propose. They also tend to say too many “yeses” without being able to deliver. Normally “the Enthusiastic” are often driven by their emotions, and therefore seem a bit unstable.
The next one was “the Peacemaker”: a trustworthy and harmonious person who always tries to build bridges and bring stability in a group. This person is usually a great listener and team player, but they are not firm in keeping to their opinions, so they tend to give up easily to avoid conflict. They are also quite permissive and hesitant.
The last character was “the Meticulous”: they are precise and love to analyze everything before making decisions. Such a person is very competent and consistent. They are trustworthy because they are usually faithful and objective. On the other hand, they tend to criticize and can be rigid and pedantic. “The Meticulous” tends to be withdrawn; and are normally seen as lonely people.
After this, we were asked to gather in groups for discussion and try to identify each trait with a Bible character and ultimately, with ourselves. The experience in the group was very disappointing; one lady was pretty harsh with “the Meticulous” and “the Winner,” claiming that such characters are not at all Christ-like, and therefore they can be harmful in a church. She went on to say that if somebody claims to walk in Christ, but has in fact a dominant, rather negative and disapproving character, that person cannot bring any good to the body of Christ. The faith of such a person should be examined by the leaders, and finally the person should be isolated if unrepentant, according to her opinion. Many in the group unfortunately agreed with her. I immediately felt an irresistible impulse to speak up, First, believers are capable of humble service to others, and yet, in the very next moment, make great embarrassing mistakes (e.g. Peter). However, mistakes don’t define us as believers. What does define us is the Person of Jesus Christ. When we believe in Him for everlasting life, we are purchased and cleansed, saved by His grace through faith (Eph 2:8). We can mess up as much as we like (and face the consequences of our choices here and in the future kingdom), but our actions will never change our position in Him.
Secondly, I can see many Meticulous and Winners in the Bible and they turned out to be great characters because of those very traits: Winner/Meticulous Moses for example, Winner David, or Meticulous Paul, and even Meticulous Daniel (Dan. 5:12), just to name a few.
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? (v.15-17)
When we went back to the main hall, the speaker asked us to take a Post-it and to place it under one of these profiles, which were displayed on a board that we thought fit our personality. When the cloud of people around the board cleared, we could see that the vast majority of the Post-its were placed under the Enthusiastic and the Peacemaker. There were just two under the Winner, and only one lonely Post-it under the Meticulous.
I just felt a deep sense of sadness. In that room there were probably many more Winners or Meticulous than the board showed, but only three had the courage to admit it. All the others were trying to fit in a profile that is considered to be more Christ-like, but only according to tradition! They wanted to fit profiles that are “more desirable” and naturally gather more people around, that are friendly and popular.
Don’t get me wrong. The Peacemaker is essential for the church and this world, and so is the Enthusiastic. Who could encourage but the Enthusiastic? Who could see the good in everything but the Peacemaker? All these traits are essential and part of the character of Christ Himself. But so are the Meticulous and the Winner! They are like rare and precious pearls, very valuable in the eyes of God, and they too display a Christ-like character.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all (v.7)
The verse above says that our different, unique gifts have been given by the Father, through the Spirit, for the profit of all. That’s a very good reason for honoring one another’s diversities. Think about it; what happens when you try to put one piece of the puzzle into the wrong end?
We should take the courage of the Winner and put it to use, and we should be very careful to listen to what the Meticulous says because they never speak lightly or without weighing things out. We should also celebrate the gift of the Enthusiastic that attracts new people into the church, and appreciate the Peacemaker that quenches disagreements and jealousies.
Yes, some personality types can be unpleasant at times. They can irritate you and push your boundaries. Maybe they don’t know the way of diplomacy and could use more seasoning in their words. But should we discard them and make them feel less Christian, or treat them with contempt just because, in our eyes, they don’t shine like the others?
After all, we need ALL four of these personality types in our churches to display the wholeness of Jesus’ character, none excluded.
Written by Manuela Mazzei