Our personalities are the result of a combination of factors, some of which we can control and some of which we can’t control. But our personality is also always evolving, changing a as result of these same factors. It is probably much more accurate to talk about what we are becoming than what we are when it comes to personality. This is an important reality that has some significant implications.
If my personality isn’t static but is always changing and evolving, that opens the possibility of managing and directing the change. And while that sounds good, it brings up several questions: Who is managing the change? In what direction is the change moving? What is the purpose of the change?
Answering these questions is important–letting the changes in our personality happen and assuming that it will produce good results isn’t a wise option. There are lots of people around who would like to manage the changes in our personality. There are lots of groups and organizations that want to help us become what they think we should become. And there are lots of reasons for the changes that really don’t help anyone in the long run.
Because I am a follower of Christ, I have to look at this whole process of personality development from a Christian perspective. And for me, that means beginning with a couple of theological realities. First, anything I am or am becoming here is affected by human sin–both mine own and that of everyone else in the world. Secondly, only God, the Creator, really knows what I can be and was actually meant to be.
And so for me, personality development becomes a part of spiritual growth and development. Who I am becoming can best be determined by God, which makes my personality development a process in which I seek God’s leading and then work at submitting to God’s infinitely superior wisdom and sense of direction.
But in order to get there, I need to learn how to deal with a great many issues and problems that I don’t always want to deal with. There are, for example, genetic issues that have an effect on who I am becoming. I struggle with mild depression on a regular basis. While a certain amount of that depression is the result of what is going on around me, I am pretty sure that my brain is genetically wired in such a way that makes depression the go to response in certain situations.
There are also environmental issues that affect who I am and who I am becoming. I grew up poor and even now, I find myself reacting to certain circumstances in ways that come from this–I am uncomfortable spending money for things that break until after I have exhausted every possible way of repairing whatever it is–sometimes even spending more on the repair attempts than I would have spent on the new whatever.
So, given that my personality is being determined by so many factors that seem to be beyond my control, where does God’s knowledge and plan enter into the process? God knows who and what I am meant to be–he is my creator and he had a plan and idea in mind for me, my life and who I can become. And because God is a God of grace and love, he doesn’t force me to make any changes or to change in any particular direction–but God does seek to help by offering me direction and help and strength through the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. If I am willing to open myself to this divine intervention, I have the potential to become more and more what God wants me to become. I won’t ever get there–there are too many factors at work making it too tempting to follow other paths to personality development that get in the way, leading me down different paths.
But in the end, a personality development process that seeks to discover and find God’s plan for who I am and am becoming seeks to me to be the only really viable process–at least I think this on good days. Rather than let my personality develop in random, uncontrolled ways, opening myself to God’s direction provides a much better possibility for my becoming.
May the peace of God be with you.