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Sacred Pathways 14th January, 2009

Posted by Scotty in Life.

sacredpathwaysSo, one of the books I read over the break was Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas (who also wrote Authentic Faith ).  I have heard people talk about this book before, and have heard comments about it that have aroused in me a spectrum of feelings from excitement to cringing!  I was glad to finally get a copy and dig in, and I am glad I did!

The premise behind the book is that different people relate to God in different ways, and so we can inject new life into our relationship with God by identifying what our temperament is and then shaping our devotional time to fit our temperament.

He lays out 9 spiritual temperaments:

  1. Naturalists: Loving God Out of Doors
  2. Sensates: Loving God with the Senses
  3. Traditionalists: Loving God Through Ritual and Symbol
  4. Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity
  5. Activists: Loving God through Confrontation
  6. Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others
  7. Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration
  8. Contemplatives: Loving God through Adoration
  9. Intellectuals: Loving God with the Mind

(for a little more details read Sacred Pathways (B))

Let me jump first into a common misconception about this book, which I’m sure must make Gary Thomas cringe when he hears it… some “spiritual temperaments” don’t need to spend time in the Word or Prayer.  If you use your “temperament” as an excuse to avoid spending time in Word and Prayer – to speak as gently and lovingly as I can: THIS IS WRONG!!!

I have had someone say to me… “it doesn’t really work for me to spend time reading my Bible.  You see, I’m a Naturalist and so I meet with God by being outdoors.  So where you have a temperament that is best suited to being in the Word, I just go out for a walk and God speaks to me that way”.  THIS IS WRONG!

Throughout the book the author states the importance of God’s Word for every believer, especially as he hits the chapter on the intellectual:

If you think you might be an intellectual in your spiritual temperament, this is the place to start.  Begin reading Scripture dailyEven if you’re not an intellectual, daily Scripture reading should be a part of every Christian’s life (p202, bold and underline are mine for emphasis.)

Knowing this misconception, I wish the author had taken a paragraph in every temperament to hit home with this message.  But truth be told, he does a good job of making it clear, and those who want to justify their poor habits, will justify themselves no matter how clear the author had been!

I really benefited from the book.  Each chapter contains some helpful tips and warnings for each of the temperaments.  I would read a temperament and as I identified with a particular description, the tips and warnings became helpful exhortations in ways to shape and guard my quiet time in order to be most effective for God.

One of Satan’s greatest triumphs in the world is to have led the church to a place where we do not know who we are in Christ.  God created us with particular personalities, gifts, skills, talents, natural abilities, and temperaments, so that we could perform a specific role within the body of Christ.  If we don’t know who we are, it makes is harder to work out what role we are supposed to play.  Any tool like this one, that helps us identify who God has made us to be, is worth getting your hands on.  One of the most important things a Christian can do is to spend time with God working these things out!

There is still an aspect of the book that I’m processing through.  Reading through the chapters I feel like each temperament is almost a label for a particular combination of spiritual gift and personality.  In a few of the temperaments the name of a spiritual gift comes out multiple times in the description of it.  Obviously God didn’t create a multitude of people with only 9 spiritual temperaments.  There are people with “temperaments” that won’t be covered in the book (it covers some of the more dominant ones), due to the vast array of combinations that come from the different gifts, personalities, passions and desires.  If I get the time I want to read back through the book and think through the relationship between these things.

Nevertheless, I think the book is a very good attempt at pinpointing different ways we relate to God, and how we can use this knowledge to bring added depth to the ways we spend time relating to God in Word and Prayer.



1. My Spiritual Temperament « Work in Progress - 14th January, 2009

[…] My Spiritual Temperament 14th January, 2009 Posted by Scotty in Life. trackback I guess I should probably explain my spiritual temperament as per Sacred Pathways. […]

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