Of all the personality types, the “whatever goes” phlegmatic probably is the one who has the easiest time embracing God and Christianity. Being the personality that most seeks peace, the peace offered by faith in Jesus Christ fits well in this easy-going person’s life.
View of God
God is a place of rest and comfort for all who choose a life in Him. This appeals to, and even beckons the phlegmatic. This personality avoids chaos and that is what the Christian life is all about. The Christian lifestyle doesn’t take the chaos out of life, but it does helps one find a supernatural rest when mayhem finds the phlegmatic. Additionally, phlegmatic personalities aren’t all about action/adventure like their more extroverted sanguine and choleric counterparts, so they are drawn to the peaceful aspects of God and Jesus (the Prince of Peace.)
John 14:27 is like a soothing bubble bath to the phlegmatic soul, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.”
Of all the personality types, the phlegmatic has the easiest time accepting God’s sovereignty. If God is control, that means the phlegmatic has less to worry about. Letting God work behind the scenes in their lives suits these easy going people. God already has it worked out, so why worry?
Ephesians 1:11 explains it well, “Moreover, because of what Christ has done, we have become gifts to God that he delights in, for as part of God’s sovereign plan we were chosen from the beginning to be his, and all things happen just as he decided long ago.” (TLB) The phlegmatic doesn’t need to fret because God has it all worked out.
Phlegmatic personalities are happy to let others sweat the hard things and details, so that makes the concept of responsibility a little tricky for this quiet person. They tend to throw conflict onto others . . . or avoid it completely. This hinders their spiritual growth when they unwittingly refuse to work through the hard things–whatever those hard things may be. If it’s a relationship issue, they may sweep it under the table in order to avoid conflict. If it’s an internal struggle, this master of diplomacy can easily explain the difficulties away rather than face them.
Out of all the personality types, the phlegmatic can have the best of intentions, but procrastination often prevents follow through. This sometimes leads to superficial service: 1) good intentions left undone, 2) good works, but not deep works.
A Growing Phlegmatic Christian
As with all the personality types, the phlegmatic needs to grow continuously to remain a healthy Christian. Here are some proven strategies that keep a phlegmatic on track:
- Find a time that works for you when it comes to Bible study and godly activities. As a phlegmatic, I don’t think in terms of “time”, but rather accomplishments. I set a goal to accomplish a set number (not too many) of activities in any given day. Rather than set a certain time for each thing, I think in broader time frames. For example, if laundry, Bible study, prayer time, and walk the dogs are on my daily TO DO LIST, I may set the morning for Bible study and walk the dogs time, while prayer time and laundry get the afternoon. If I come anywhere CLOSE to accomplishing that, I’m at peace.
- Be committed, but not legalistic. There is overlap between this and the above strategy. Just be sure to remember that because of the way a phlegmatic is wired, he or she is easily overwhelmed when too many activities or too much rigidity sets in. Think in broader terms of accomplishing godly things. Learn to be intentional when it comes time to getting things done.
- Don’t compare yourself to other Christians or you will get discouraged. When I discovered this little gem of advice, an entirely new world opened up for me. In church settings I was never as socially welcoming as the sanguine personalities who instantly greeted all newcomers. I never felt as comfortable as the choleric people who volunteered to lead various church outreaches . . . I was more comfortable in supportive roles. I marveled as I watched melancholy Christians meet the deep sensitive needs of the hurting while also putting the detailed touches of beauty on the Christmas pageant. What was wrong with me!! Once I understood that I blossomed working with people one-on-one, making people feel comfortable in a new setting because I was so non-threatening (yes, there are Christians who overwhelm non-believers and scare them), and that I was usually the most diplomatic in the room, I embraced who I was. I quit comparing myself to others who were gifted with different traits.
When it comes to the phlegmatic Christians, they need to embrace who they are. The wonderfully gifted phlegmatic needs to get up, get out, and live for God!
©2013 Shona Neff