The Nine Temperaments of Sacred Pathways, Exercise

Welcome back for round two of Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas and the Nine Temperaments.  You can find more information about the nine temperaments in this post.  Today what I wanted us to do is have a little exercise to explore each type.  

I also wanted to emphasize the value of finding what temperament you are to begin using this in your daily time with the Lord.  I equate it with knowing what food works for your body.  I could tell you all the benefits of eating eggs for breakfast with a cup of coffee, or how for lunch I eat a broccoli salad with raisins (by the way, you won't be seeing me purposefully eat raisins).  Meanwhile, you know broccoli and your gut do not agree.  Or maybe your skin flares up when you eat eggs, so you avoid them.  

We have different dietary needs, so we shouldn't assume our spiritual dietary needs should look the same.  For me, I have a blend of Sensate, Caregiver, Enthusiast & Intellectual.  If it's early morning and I'm sitting with God, I need a quiet environment and allow for me to connect with God on an intellectual level.  I also love music, like crazy love, and when I pull out my guitar and sing with sheer abandon I find my Jesus in the most intimate ways.  

If you were to ask Ben, he would tell you he's a mixture of the Naturalist, Aesthetic, and Intellectual.  He has been known to spend a whole weekend at a monastery in silence and prayer.  Books like The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster speak to him.  He also connects with God by engaging his mind and listening to seminary lectures.  

Here are some tips before you get started:

  • First, make spending time with God a priority.
  • Choose places where you won't be distracted (hard when you have young children)
  • Choose the right time of day.
  • Mix it up:
    • take walks
    • read devotional books
    • listen to music
    • have exuberant worship times
    • sit quietly/meditate/reflection/solitude
    • fast
    • go outside
    • pray through the Psalms
    • read a Psalm before prayer
    • pray out loud
    • write poetry/psalm/journal
    • shout out praises
    • dance with God

I personally love the Psalms, and feel they speak to the human experience.  I will provide different exercises using Psalm 62 for each of the types.  You can use your own translation for it (and future try a different Psalm).  

1. The Naturalist: Go to a place outside, either by the water, or in the country, mountains.  Read the Psalm out loud.  Reflect on the psalm and the scenery together.  Now, write down how they relate--see what it speaks to you or if it does.  How does it speak to you?

2. The Sensate: Go to a quiet place, light a candle, burn incense, or diffuse some oils.  Have a snack, or a hot cup of tea or coffee.  Read the psalm out loud, then draw a picture of what God seems to be speaking about through the psalm and your senses.  Through your picture, you will be relaying what God is telling you in the psalm.

3. The Traditionalist: Divide the psalm into portions.  Read one part out loud, then pause and pray.  You could also mix it up with reading from the Book of Common Prayer.  Then meditate on the scripture, maybe memorized parts of it.  

4. The Aesthetic: Read the psalm to yourself, not out loud.  Go to a quiet place and meditate on it.  Kneel, be silent and still before God.  See what God is speaking to you through your silence and meditation on Him.

5. The Activist: Read psalm out loud and see how the psalm would speak to the church of today, or the nation on a political issue.  You can write a letter to church about recent news, #blacklivesmatter or planned parenthood.  Then intercede.

6. The Caregiver: Read psalm aloud.  Then reflect on and pray for a person you are moved with compassion.  See how the Lord is speaking to you to minister to that person through the reading of the psalm.  Then write a letter to that person, or email or text.

7. The Enthusiast: Read aloud (with passion) the psalm.  Listen to music while reading.  Spend the rest of the time PRAISING HIM for all He's done for you.  Shout it out and dance.

8. The Contemplative: Read silently. Write a letter to God, a love letter of response to the psalm.  Tell him of your adoration.

9. The Intellectual: Read aloud, do an inductive bible study of the psalm.  Find out the exegesis of Psalm 62, and the origins.  Why was this written?  What was happening in Israel for this to play a significant role in lament?  What types of Psalms are there? Create further questions you would have for a future discussion.


These are very simplistic ways of playing out the nine temperaments with Psalm 62 being the common denominator.  As you might guess, some of these are easier to pan out in a corporate setting while others are not.  You might be a contemplative traditionalist, which will help you know what you need in a corporate setting and at home.  I often find I intertwine the Aesthetic and Caregiver when I cook.  I will pray while cutting the vegetables and stirring the stew.  I find God here.  I am finding more of the naturalist in me when gardening, something I never knew until I found the right setting.  

I would love to hear what you've discovered about yourself in experimenting with the nine pathways.