How do you best connect with God? Is it by loving others? By practicing daily rituals? Or perhaps, by taking a walk outdoors? Because each of us were created uniquely in God’s image, finding our own spiritual temperament is important part of connecting with God on a deeper level.
Gary Thomas highlights three spiritual temperaments from his book Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God: caregivers, activists, and traditionalists. He begins with caregivers: loving God by loving others.
“Somebody might say, ‘Aren’t we all called to care for the sick, the lost, and those in prison?’ The answer is yes. But here’s the difference: when it’s your pathway, doing it feeds you. When it’s not your pathway, it’s service; it empties you.”
“For instance, one woman caring for an Alzheimer’s patient and she’ll say at the end, ‘That person gave me far more than I could ever give them.’ That tells me that’s a caregiver because they’re fed by giving care.”
“Others of us might be called to care for somebody with Alzheimer’s but it depletes us, so maybe we have to take a walk in the woods, or maybe we have to have an extended time of Bible study to feel like we get filled back up again.”
If caregiving doesn’t fill you up spiritually, you may be able to identify with the spiritual temperament of activists: loving God through confrontation.
“If you’re not a confrontational person where you’re fighting battles in God’s name, you can feel very depleted very fast. Other Christians, that’s when they get excited; that’s when they feel like their batteries get recharged in the midst of confrontation.”
Gary points out that in every Christian life it’s really about determining, is this emptying me? Or is this filling me up?
“If it’s emptying you, then you need another pathway that will fill you back up because then it’s a point of service, not a point of being spiritually fed.”
If we wanted to expand our boundaries and spend time on other pathways, is it simply just a matter of practice? Gary shares his personal thoughts by reflecting on the spiritual temperament of traditionalists: loving God through ritual and symbol.
“There’s something wonderfully inspiring when people spend an hour straight in prayer or more. I’ve also heard some people with a Godly relationship with the Lord say, ‘I rarely pray 10 minutes, but I rarely go 10 minutes without praying.’ I’m not sure that there’s a right or wrong in that.”
“When we delight in it; we’re not trying to cut corners, we’re not checking off a box saying, ‘Ok I’ve got that done,’ it really becomes a part of who we are and what we look forward to.”
Drawing close to God is not a one-sized-fits-all proposition. It’s important to know how God uniquely designed each of us to express our love for Him on a deeper level.
Gary L. Thomas is a bestselling author and international speaker whose ministry brings people closer to Christ and closer to others. He is author of several books including Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God.Sacred pathways to connecting with God