Unlocking Your Personality
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What is personality?
We could start off with the question tonight of what is personality? The topic of this teaching is that God develops our personality. But what is it?
Is it something you are born with?
Is it something that you can change?
There are a lot of interesting issues like that. But what we’re going to do tonight is define personality as the total picture of you that makes you unique. Parts of you may be found in others, like your intelligence or your warmth. But it is very unlikely that anyone has the whole package that you have. And that is what we’ll call “your personality.”
I’m sure that much of it was given to us genetically. And I’m also sure that we were shaped massively by our experience in life.
But whatever the case, I want to return to a thesis that we have made a big deal out of here. And that is, God knows you better than you know yourself. He knows what experiences have shaped you.
Example: We talk about the “sub-conscious.” Well, what that means is that something has shaped us but we’re not that aware of it anymore. But God hasn’t forgotten. He never forgets anything.
God also knows what we were born with. He knows our potential. He knows what we haven’t even discovered yet. One of the strongest passages on this is Psa. 139:13 . . .
Again, I emphasize that this is consistent with the Bible’s point of view that God is involved, even in everyday events like the birth of a new person. We make this sharp distinction between the natural and the supernatural. God is only in those things that we don’t understand. But God’s point of view is, “Hey, I also made all those things you do understand. I’m involved all around you.” Even though some of the things God does we have been able to decipher and label with scientific terms–that doesn’t mean he is not involved.
And so God tells us that he is involved in our makeup–what eventually becomes our personality.
Our facades are for others
But then, what happens is life is that we start to take charge. We start to ask ourselves, “Who do I want to be?”
You know what the saddest part of it is? When we answer this question, we look out and ask, “What do others want me to be?” We don’t look in and say, “What’s really there?” In large part, that’s because we don’t know, especially when we’re really young. God knows. But what we do know is what others want out of us. So, we start to behave accordingly.
I remember I used to stand at the doors to my high school every morning and afternoon and just watch people. It was hard to find better entertainment. And the reason it was so entertaining was that everyone had a gimmick. Everyone had a face. And they worked on that face to put it out there so everyone could see it.
Example: If they were jocks, or considered themselves hard-asses, then they would walk with arms extended out slightly from the side of their body. Now the reason some hard-asses on TV do that is because their lateral muscles are so huge that their arms don’t quite drop to their sides. I suppose another reason might be that gunslingers in the Westerns wanted to keep ready at all times. But here these scrawny teenagers would be walking around with their arms out! Why? Because they were putting their face out there to people! They had an image
Example: Then there were people who were popular. These people had to appear like they were constantly doing something very important–like they were wanted . It was uncool for them to be alone. But if they were alone, then they had to look busy. They had to look like they were looking for someone‑someone just up ahead at the lockers.
I don’t want to pretend that I didn’t have my gimmicks, because I did. I just used to get such a kick out of watching other people’s though.
We become who other people think we ought to be.
Do you think this gets better as a person gets older? No way. If anything it gets more fierce. Because the judgments we pass on one another become more and more final. When you’re still growing up, then you can be awkward or you can be finding your way. But you get to a certain age and that’s no excuse anymore. You become a loser in life.
Example: You become an ingnorant person.
Example: You become a brilliant, upwardly mobile go-getter.
Example: You become a lazy slob.
There are tons of slots that we put people in, and it gets more permanent and more damning the older you get.
But in all this, where is God? Where is the one who knows what we’re really like? Where’s the one who knows what we really could be? He’s usually completely out of the picture. And yet it’s clear that God really gets off on the differences between us. He sees them and he wants to take advantage of them.
God appreciates our uniqueness
There is a story in John 1 that is so telling of the way God sees us and appreciates us. The book of John is the story of God coming to earth to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ. And John starts his book this way. It’s very high-flying, with all kinds of powerful language . . .
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:3, 4)
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. (John 1:9, 10)
So God is coming into the world. But then in the second half of the chapter you start to meet the person, Jesus. And he’s just walking along, being a regular guy. The first two guys he meets ask him, “Where are you staying tonight?” He says, “Come on, check it out.” So they start travelling together.
Then they meet this guy named Simon. And Jesus gives him a nickname, Peter, which means “the rock.” So here is God, the light of the world, the beginning and the end, the creator of all things, and he’s walking around giving people nicknames.
Then he meets this guy named Nathaniel. The encounter between Nathaniel and Jesus is so typical of the way God appreciates people and their personalities.
We meet Nathanael in v. 45, when his friend Philip comes to get him and tell him about Jesus. Basically, he says, “The messiah is here! The one who has been promised to us throughout the whole Old Testament!”
Then you kind of get a feel for the type of person Nathanael is by his answer. It’s like, “Yeah, right! Some hillbilly from Nazareth is going to be the messiah!” This is the kind of guy that has no problem throwing cold water on your fire if he feels like it.
Anyway, he agrees to go see this Jesus guy. And Jesus sees him coming. And in v. 47, Jesus says, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” What he means is, “Here’s a guy who shoots straight! He says what he thinks!”
Now, Nathanael knows that he’s this way. So he says to Jesus, “How did you know me? Did someone tell you about me already?”
And Jesus gives him some more, “Before Philip even found you, I saw you sitting under the tree.” In other words, “I knew who you are and where you were before you even heard of me.” Of course, this is God speaking. This is the guy who sees you when you’re sitting on the toilet. He sees you when you’re all alone.
This obviously impresses Nathanael, because he responds . . .
But what is the net effect of this interaction? The net effect is that Nathanael sees, “Here is someone who knows me. He appreciates the way I am. Here’s someone who has supernatural insight about me.” And he decides to follow Jesus Christ.
This is what I want you to see about God. He looks at us and sees our uniqueness. And he really likes it.
We owe a debt to others
But here we come to a difference in perspective about our uniqueness. We view our personality as a tool to use to advance our cause. It’s a way to get people to like us. It’s a tool we use to make money. It’s a tool we use to get our way.
Example: Our looks are part of how we project our personality. And who doesn’t use their looks to advance their cause? That’s why it is so interesting to watch people. You can just look at how they look and ask yourself, “What is he after? What’s she trying to get?” It’s one of the more obvious things about us.
But the way we use our looks is just typical of how we use our personality. We use our personality to attract people, or to get ahead, or to make a way for us. It’s very different from the way that God looks at us.
When God sees our uniqueness, he sees an obligation. He sees a debt. We see a tool to use for ourselves. God sees a debt that we owe.
Paul looked at his life this way. In I Corinthians 4, he describes himself this way,
So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who examines me.
He is saying that whatever he has was given him by God. That is why other people’s evaluations of him don’t matter. “God gave me what I have, I have to answer to him.” Do you see the sense of indebtedness Paul has here? He calls what he has been given by God a “trust.”
In fact, a couple verses later he turns around and points his fingers at his audience when he asks a very powerful question:
What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
Do you see the perspective here? Everything you have is a gift from God. We are indebted to our creator.
Before we go any further with this, I want to say that this is where we need to start with God. This is how we turn to God and become a Christian. We turn to him in prayer and admit, “God, you are my God. You are the one who gave me everything. And I want your forgiveness for living my own life apart from you.”
That is how we get started with God. As I go on here and talk about how to really draw out your personality, it won’t matter if you haven’t made the first step of coming to God and asking him for his forgiveness, and for a relationship with him.
Like I said, that is what it means to become a Christian.
Pay the debt to others
But now what’s really interesting, is that the way God wants us to use our trust–our stewardship–is to serve others. He wants us to take what he gave us, and give it to others.
When God gives us our abilities, when he gives us our life, he gives it to us so that we can give it away. Look how strong Paul says it in Romans 13,
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled God’s law.
We owe. God gave us all that we have so that we could give it away. We owe a debt to others.
In fact, a passage that is kind of unsettling (at least it should be for most of us here), is where Jesus talks about the principle that when you are given a lot, you owe a lot. In Luke 12:48, he talks about a principle that I believe applies to many situations and many issues.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
When we see a person with a lot, we say, “There’s a person who can really get ahead in life.” But when God sees a person whom he has given a lot to, he says, “There’s a person who is deeply indebted. That person is going to have to give a lot.”
I look out here, and I see some serious debts that people owe. Because I know that God has given you a lot.
But at the same time, I know the way we naturally think. “What am I going to do with my smarts? Am I going to get this degree or that one?” “What am I going to do with my good looks? Am I going to catch one excellent babe? Or am I going to hunt for hundreds of them?”
This is how we look at what we have.
Key to being ourselves
This is too bad. Because, in looking at our uniqueness this way, we will actually supress or even ruin what God has given us.
Remember I said that God wants to draw out our uniqueness. But that we only really develop in the right circumstances? We only really develop in the right atmosphere?
Well here it is. Here is a key, a major secret, to really being who God meant you to be: it’s to find out how you can serve and make a difference to others.
This is it. God wants to draw out your uniqueness in the context of you trying to serve others.
Example: I told you about the example of Peter. Jesus gave him the nickname of the “Rock,” and the reason, he tells Peter in Matthew 16, is that he’s going to use Peter to be someone that people depend on. He’s going to make Peter into the kind of person that people will lean on.
Example: Today there are some unique features to my personality that I see. One of them is the ability to get people intersted in something. Essentially, there are elements of a salesman there. But that part of my personality only really became evident when I turned my life over to God and said, “God, how can I make a difference in people’s lives?” And God began to give me opportunities to interest people in him.
I know that there are some people out there who consider themselves “dull people.” “I don’t have very much of a personality.” God doesn’t agree at all.
I don’t know how many times I’m going to see this happen, but it always amazes me. We’ll see two people come to God, one an apparently dynamic personality because they have sharpened their come-off over the years. The other, an apparently borish person who doesn’t seem to have much. But the second person really wants to serve God and really wants to have God use him in other people’s lives. In time–2, 3, 4, 5 years down the road–that second person is much more dynamic, much more interesting, you can tell has much more to offer.
Why is this? Because that second person got in the right environment to have his personality shaped by God.
On the other hand, when you live to please other people, or even if you live to please yourself, you’ll only tap a little bit of what’s there. Because God’s not into that. He’s not into helping you help yourself. He’s not into helping you become what others want you to be. He’s into helping you be who you really are, by finding ways you can serve others.
Can I get practical here? I can’t go around the room and say, “You ought to serve people this way . . .” But I can tell you something that is very practical. Talk to a Christian you know and respect–someone who you have seen God change. Talk to that person about ways that you can be used by God in other people’s lives.
That is where you are going to get some of the best, most practical wisdom.
The purpose of this meeting
I want to take a few minutes here at the end to talk about something a little different, the purpose of this meeting. We are trying to have a whole night here where we present God’s answers on different topics. We see this as real valuable and applicable for both Christians and those who are considering Christianity.
I’ve been approached by a number of you and told that these topics are real applicable. Well, that’s because they are applicable to me too.
But it’s not just the teaching. We try to round up music, skits, videos and anything else we can to creatively communicate the message. What I’ve been growing more concerned about is that I think that there has been a tendency to not view the opening music as part of the meeting. I think that there is a tendency to view it as an optional opening if you want to come early.
This is seen by the fact that most–most–people come late. And also most people talk extensively durring the music.
Now look, I don’t want to get heavy with anyone here. I want to be able to talk durring the music. I like to talk. I want a laid-back scene. But I think that we have gone too far on this. I see us getting worse. And I think this really hurts the meeting in a couple ways.
First, we are working on making the musical part of this meeting an integral part of the whole message. We have some secular tunes with no particular message–just good music. But we also have some tunes that are designed to carry a message. We are really emphasizing variety. We want to get lots of different types of music with different types of messages up here. And we have asked the muscicians to talk a little bit about the songs that they are doing.
So, the music is a big part of what we’re trying to do with this meeting. And, frankly, at times I have felt for the musicians up here when it appears that not that many people are listening to them. They work as hard as I do or more. They are trying to serve God and serve you. And I think, “What if I got up to speak and most of the people weren’t even here? Or they weren’t listening, walking around talking at the back?” I might feel pretty bad.
But secondly, the music is intended to get the group started and focused. People take a certain amount of time to get settled and focused. We are trying to use the music to this end. What is happening, though, is that with people coming late, etc., the meeting is not really getting settled down and focused until the teaching starts.
This, I believe, hurts the message for the evening. Some of those first few minutes are very key, and yet I can tell as a teacher that I’m struggling to get people’s attention.
So, I know that some of you guys who have been coming around here a long time feel like you can afford to come late or jabber around at the beginning. I’m just saying, think about it. If you really have something to say durring the music, then go ahead. Talk. We don’t want to take that away. But if you’re just socializing, then why not come extra early, or wait until afterwards?