Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Christian Personality Theory Interprets Boasters and Controllers

Strength-stuck persons are forced to live a lie that is apparent to all around them. They do make mistakes, do show errors of judgment, and do miss the mark of their own high standards. It’s just that they never admit it.

Scripture makes a prediction about strength-patterned people: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Haughty Spirit

When Boasters and Controllers really grasp the good news about the grace of Jesus Christ, they can lay down the burden of pride and begin enjoying life and people. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Though it is hard to believe and doesn’t have a counterpart in other world religions, the Gospel proclaims that individuals are made right with God and equipped for service to others through the redemptive atonement Christ has provided in his death and resurrection. There is no self-merit involved.

Saved by God's Grace

To the Boaster, God declares, “But let those who boast, boast about this: that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight” (Jeremiah 9:24).

Boasters can invite Christ’s love to shine through their personality and human nature, surrendering the need to gain everyone’s admiration, and praying for forgiveness about the many times they slighted others when striving for superior status. Over time, their self-importance is transformed from self-glorification into glorifying Christ and serving others with a humble heart. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).

Persons outgrowing the Boaster pattern can enjoy a new connection with humanity, one based on empathy instead of condescension, humility instead of hubris. Now the door of the heart can open to concern for others' well-being, consideration for others' feelings, and helping others rather than feeling competitive toward them. 

Helping Others

Controllers face a different set of growth challenges, since their proneness to legalism renders them resistant to grace and love. They want to impress God with their meritorious achievements. Grace seems to diminish what they are most sure of: how conscientious they are. 

But Jesus sees deeper into their hearts, understanding how Controllers must smash the illusion of their good intentions and perfectionist rule-keeping in order to let go of their judgmental attitude

So Christ says to the Controller, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2).

Repentance takes the form of giving up the need to always be right, to control every situation, and to constantly prove one’s capability—all preludes to developing a more humble personality, whose spiritual core expresses an interpersonal, rather than egocentric sense of self.

In an invitation that seems tailored to the Controller, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

"Come to me, you who are burdened"

And now there is room for the Lord to introduce play, enjoyment, laughter, and fun into the lives of former Boasters and Controllers, the Holy Spirit helping them to feel God’s extravagant love, and Jesus showing them firsthand the unforced rhythms of grace.

For more, read:

A Self Compass for Humanity