on October 9, 2003
Just as people have different personality temperaments, they also have different spiritual temperaments or preferred ways of approaching God for worship and discipleship. This is the primary thesis of Gary Thomas' book, "Sacred Pathways." People do not have to go to God in the same way. The best way to approach God is in accordance with the specific temperaments with which one has been created.
Thomas contends that every person has at least one spiritual temperament, and most have several. Understanding basic spiritual temperaments is helpful not only for identifying one's God-given preferences, but also for understanding how others may worship God in equally valid ways.
"Sacred Pathways" includes a chapter each on nine spiritual temperaments: naturalists, sensates, traditionalists, ascetics, activists, caregivers, enthusiasts, contemplatives and intellectuals. Each chapter describes the temperament's distinguishing characteristics, including its strengths and weaknesses. Thomas' discussions are well illustrated with many personal experiences from his own life and others. Each chapter concludes with a short assessment to help readers determine whether they have that specific temperament.
The final chapter, "Understanding Your Sacred Pathway," gives practical suggestions on how to nurture one's spiritual personality which consists of one or more temperaments and the interplay between them. Thomas does not discuss the differences between private and corporate worship, but he does recognize that some temperaments are better suited for private worship-not all are equally suited for corporate worship. The final chapter also includes practical suggestions for cultivating a more meaningful devotional life in accordance with one's temperaments in both corporate and private worship. This is helpful not only for individual worshippers, but also for those responsible for leading corporate worship.
I first discovered this book through reading Rick Warren's "The Purpose-Driven Life." I'm glad I did; "Sacred Pathways" has given me a better understanding of-and a greater appreciation for-the different ways we worship God.
on March 4, 2004
The 9 paths he investigates are called naturalist, sensate, traditionalist, ascetic, activist, caregiver, enthusiast, contemplative and intellectual. These match up well with the 9-10 mysteries discussed in "Living with Mystery" by Stacey Padrick. What a coincidence or is it rather better -- a serendipitous occasion!