When it comes to Christianity, the melancholy needs to avoid turning his/her spirituality into a journey of perfection. When perfection becomes the goal, a relationship with Jesus unwittingly turns into legalism. However, when the proper balance between God’s perfect standard and relationship is found, the melancholy is a beautiful example of a true seeker of God and His ways.
View of God
As a consummate seeker of perfection the melancholy is naturally drawn to Bible verses such as Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (NKJV). Out of all four personality types the melancholy is the most likely to do things properly. They are organized, meticulous with details, orderly in everything they do, and very disciplined. They expect a lot of themselves and they tend to approach Christianity in much the way . . . organized, meticulous, orderly, and very disciplined.
When they read that they are to “be perfect” as God is perfect, that translates into DO IT JUST LIKE GOD– “No room for error or all is lost.” Matthew 5:48 is an exhortation for believers to STRIVE to be like God. We can never be exactly like God while on earth, but our goal should be to reflect Him as best we can. Well, because of the way they are wired, a Christian melancholy works to achieve perfection here on earth and often become legalistic with themselves an others. It isn’t that they don’t love God, it’s just the opposite: they love Him so much they feel like failures if they don’t reflect perfection. However, when they find the balance between their love of God and the reality that they are only human, they add to the beauty of God’s kingdom because they add a sensitivity that the other personalities often lack.
It makes sense that KNOWLEDGE is a melancholy strength. They love details and tend to be giddy about researching and learning. A Christian melancholy enjoys pouring over charts, graphs, lists, and, yes, genealogies. Couple this for with their ardent love of God and you have some of the most knowledgeable people ever. When they can translate their knowledge into teaching that the other personalities can relate to, they make great teachers. That means they don’t smother others with too much detail, but share in a way that all can be awed by God.
Proverbs 2:3-4 is an apt description for this knowledge seeking personality: “Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift your voice for understanding, if you see her (wisdom) as silver, and search for her as hidden treasure; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”
The fact that this personality tends to seek perfection is their greatest hindrance. They have difficulty reconciling forgiveness for those that they don’t feel deserve it. That includes themselves! Not only do they come across harsh to others in this area, but when they cannot grasp “grace” they spend all their energy on DOING things to earn God’s forgiveness. To the melancholy, it it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right! That often includes forgiveness. Grace doesn’t require anything and that concept is often hard for them to grasp.
A Growing Melancholy Christian
How can a perfection-seeking melancholy grow as a Christian? The key word is “balance”.
- Respect God’s standards (because they ARE good), but relax your approach to details and find balance is your quest for perfection. Allow yourself to make mistakes. If God allows for errors, you can too.
- Allow your idealistic tendencies to be balanced with biblical wisdom, knowledge, and compassion. Don’t expect yourself or others to be perfect and don’t be afraid to let compassion flow where appropriate.
- Learn to forgive yourself and others . . . understand grace.
The melancholy Christian is indeed a special part of God’s kingdom. They can see and add beauty that often eludes the other personalities. But, when their tendency to achieve perfection overrides grace, there will be problems within themselves and often the community of believers. If this personality can remember to seek God instead of perfection, it will be easier for them to find the beautifully balanced life that God planned for them.