Women’s ministry is more about relationships and serving than planning and implementing programs or projects. However, leaders are privileged to guide the process by effectively assimilating wonderfully unique people to do the work God has planned. Involving and empowering women to minister is similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has its own idiosyncrasies with a unique shape and part of the picture. Each shape has its predetermined place. It can be challenging to connect the myriad pieces, as it requires time, patience, and thoughtful analysis. It becomes evident that each piece has unique and equal value; for without each one in place, the picture is not complete. (See 1 Corinthians 12.)
Spiritual gifts and natural abilities equip individuals to serve, but their personalities tell how they will serve. God has blessed each of us with a unique personality so that we can serve Him fruitfully. God also designed others who may think and act differently so that we will complement one another.
For several years leadership programs have emphasized understanding people from a generational perspective. This approach is needed, but it limits understanding by only using demographically categorized affinity groups. Effectively leading also requires a deeper and more personalized approach that begins by understanding personality styles, including how they impact the way spiritual gifts are used.
Four basic personality types or “temperaments” as noted by the Greek physician Hippocrates have characterized people. He named the four temperaments Melancholic, Sanguine, Choleric, and Phlegmatic. Research and personal behavioral observations reveal that everyone has a dominant personality type with a distinct and unique blend of all four traits, in varying degrees. When God created you, He made you unique—you are one of a kind. Your personality is one of the ways you are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). It is the outward expression of your inner person.
Utilizing personality styles as a resource provides insights that allow for the appreciation of people for who they are and for what they prefer to contribute. Personality indicators are tools and are not meant to box people into rigid categories. Understanding personality styles does not allow us to see through people; it allows us to see people through a personalized lens. It enables leaders to make care the biggest part of their ministry careers: seeing people the way they want to be seen, hearing them the way they want to be heard, understanding them the way they want to be understood—as the “real me,” with value.
This article is an excerpt from Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level compiled by Chris Adams.
Sheila West has been in women’s ministry for more than 25 years, serving as director of women’s ministry for more than 20 years in the local church. She’s currently on staff at Heritage Community Church, Fruitland Park, Fla., as director of spiritual growth and ministry mobilization and women’s ministry coordinator. Sheila is the founder of Real Living Ministries, a speaking, teaching, and leadership development ministry to women. The author of Beyond Chaos, Sheila is a contributor to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She and her husband, John, are the parents of two and proud grandparents of seven. Follow her on Twitter @SheilaWestSez.