Honoring Our Feet

Peculiar topic, no? Have you ever thought of someone’s opinions as second-rate and subtly (or so you thought) told them so? Have you been slighted or brushed off for some unfathomable reason, only later putting two and two together? Though we expect this treatment in the world, we shouldn’t expect it in the church. However, it’s there and He doesn’t like it. Through the Apostle Paul, He says:

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.

But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

1 Corinthians 12:21-26 English Standard Version (ESV)

There is a lot in this admonition. First, let us consider the key word: honor. We know honor more sharply by what it is not:

dis·hon·or [disˈänər]

VERB

bring shame or disgrace on:

“the politician dishonors her good campaign by resorting to sniping.”

synonyms: disgrace, shame, discredit, bring into disrepute, humiliate, degrade, debase, lower, cheapen, drag down, drag through the mud, blacken the name of, give a bad name to, sully, stain, taint, besmirch, smear, mar, blot, stigmatize

antonym: honor, respect

The reformer, John Calvin, had some pointed things to say about these verses:

Hitherto [Paul exhorted] the less honorable members to…not envy the more distinguished members. Now, he [directs the] honorable members not to despise the inferior members, [with whom] they cannot dispense.

The dishonor of one member [results in] the common disgrace of the whole body, as appears from the care that we take to cover the parts that are less honorable…The body is not merely shattered, and the order of nature perverted, but the authority of God is openly [treated as of no importance] whenever anyone assumes more than belongs to him.

There is no room for envy or contempt. To be honored [means] to be in prosperity and happiness. Nothing, however, is better [suited] to promote harmony than…when everyone feels that he is proportionally enriched by the prosperity of others and impoverished by their penury.

Further, the Apostle Paul instructs us to listen to the Spirit’s guidance and refrain from looking down on our brothers and sisters:

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:25-26 (ESV)

To this, Calvin says:

Among Christians, whoever [desires their own] glory departs from true glory, and therefore is justly charged with idle and foolish ambition. It is not lawful for us to glory but in God alone. Every other kind of glorying is pure vanity.

Mutual provocations and envying are the daughters of ambition. He who aspires to the highest rank must of necessity envy all others, and disrespectful, biting, stinging language is the unavoidable consequence.

So we see the origin of this form of strife: vaunted ambition. He who wants to be first, will be last.

But Paul’s admonitions about honor are not all negative. In the Letter to the Romans, he says:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Romans 12:10, 17 (ESV)

In these verses, Calvin catches several subtleties we often miss:

Everyone is to give honor to his brethren and not to himself; for there is no poison more effectual in alienating the minds of men than the thought, that one is despised.

As there is nothing more opposed to brotherly concord than contempt, arising from haughtiness, when each one, neglecting others, advances himself; so the best fomenter of love is humility, when everyone honors others.

We render evil for evil sometimes…when we treat unkindly those who do us no good…When any one denies help to us when we need it, we…do not help him in time of need, any more than he assisted us.

We ought to diligently labor, that all may be edified by our honest dealings. For as purity of conscience is necessary for us before God, so uprightness of character before men is not to be neglected.

When we are [called] to prepare good things before men, …[it] is not that men may admire and praise us but that their minds being elevated to God, they may give praise to him, that by our example they may be stirred up to practice righteousness.

And so, we must “honor our feet,” that is, give sincere respect and due care to those who we consider less capable in word, thought, and deed, for the sake of the unity of His body, the church. Each of us contributes what we’ve been given, if we’re following the Spirit’s leading. To God, alone, be the glory.

U-MV021 – Sam Phillips – I Need Love, posted on YouTube by mypartofthething, lyrics

The Idealist Personality

Less than seven percent of all men and women are idealist personalities. They follow hunches, heed feelings, strive for consensus, follow laws for community’s sake, avoid or prevent fighting, generalize from particulars, view people and things metaphorically, and put themselves in others shoes.

They are concerned for morale, give of themselves selflessly, search for life’s meaning, seek and develop the potential in those around them, desire inner unity and absolute truth, and are prone to wishful thinking.

Idealists are enthusiastic, intuitive, and romantic. They feel misunderstood and aspire to wisdom. They are soulmates as spouses, harmonizers as parents, and catalysts as leaders. Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther possessed idealist personalities.

You may know a few who that fit this description. The teacher with a gift for drawing out good performances from seemingly incorrigible students, the pastor who seeks out and shepherds the destitute and hurting, the activist championing a noble (or ignoble) cause, or the wise mediator who reconciles differences between conflicting factions.

This is one of the personalities that is important for writers to recognize and portray. David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me is a useful reference for writers who want to fully flesh out their characters.

Keirsey says Hippocrates and Galen observed that there are four personality types. Later scientists refined their observations by identifying four distinctions within each type.

Keirsey defines the idealist personality as abstract in their word use and cooperative in their tool use. Their thought and speech are rich in exaggeration, move from parts to wholes, and spontaneously transform one thing into another, erasing distinctions, and joining opposites.

Idealists fall into four subcategories, each containing only a few percent of the population. Two are characterized as directive: the expressive teacher and the reserved counselor. The teacher takes control of even difficult students with confidence and creativity, broadening or refining their attitudes and actions. The counselor advises, appeals, prescribes, or urges in order to help others toward greater well-being.

The two other subtypes are informative: expressive champions and reserved healers. The champion eagerly explores issues and events in order to passionately champion a cause or ideal that will motivate others to settle conflicts and/or act justly and wisely. The healer helps others to accept, accommodate, or reconcile to mend relationships or make whole a divided self.

Idealists seek professions involving the unfolding of mind and heart toward greater self-understanding and inner peace. They need and want to be in communication with people. They can learn to write and speak fluently with a poetic flair. They form personal relationships which communicate caring and willingness to become involved. However, these relationships can drain them, so either they disconnect professionally or risk becoming emotionally overwhelmed.

Their greatest happiness comes from selflessly giving of themselves to help others grow and develop. They believe things easily and without reserve, join causes, and are loyal to leaders more than principles. They can become fixated about beliefs, unmovable by appeals to reason or experience. Some bravely accept accidents as mystifying and inexplicable; others attribute causes of unhappy events to a higher [or lower] power. They focus on what might be, not what is and are drawn to discerning the true nature and significance of things.

Idealists base self-esteem on the empathy they feel with those closest to them. They maintain a benevolent attitude toward others and their powerful conscience suppresses feelings of animosity. Vague self-doubt nags most of them. They laboriously walk the line between authenticity and moral approval of others.

They exhibit delightful and contagious positive emotions when discussing ideas and insights. When frustrated in idealism, or treated unjustly, they become irritated quickly and respond furiously. They trust first impressions. Unconsciously, but sometimes erroneously, they adopt their perceptions of another’s desires and emotions. They want relationships to be deep, meaningful, and full of beauty and sensitivity. They try to get in touch with the person they were meant to be. Some stop struggling to become a perfected ideal and accept themselves as they are. Recognition as a special person by someone they care about is very gratifying. They want to see behind and through to the world as it really is.

They desire a spouse who knows their feelings without being told, who spontaneously expresses words of endearment that acknowledge their unique identity. They closely bond with their children, even into adulthood, if possible, to encourage their positive self-esteem, self-respect, and self-confidence. At work, idealists facilitate, motivate, or energize cooperative action and high morale in their subordinates.

As we wrote in “Why Are There Four Gospel Accounts?,” an earlier blog posting, these traits describe some peoples’ predispositions. Their experiences can mold them, as far as they are willing and able, so that they acquire attributes of the other personality types. These attributes in sum could be said to be their overall dispositions.

If you are a writer, I heartily recommend reading Keirsey’s book for yourself. I created detailed outlines for my personal use. You may profit from the same effort. We’ll review Keirsey’s take on the Rational personality type in two or three weeks.

It’s A Wonderful Life from PNN Media Group on Vimeo.

It’s Not About You

We live in a self-centered world. From identity politics to Twitter, FoMO to twenty-four-hour cable news, safe spaces to speech codes, we focus on what pleases us, amuses us, or fills us with self-importance. We think everything revolves around us and if it doesn’t, it should. We see it on campuses, on the campaign trail, and at international summits that ultimately do little to mitigate climate change in the end.

Our culture often frames this untenable condition in terms of unrequited love. The band, Scouting for Girls, sets this theme to a catchy tune. Please be aware that the lyrics contain mild innuendoes (yes, a trigger warning):

Scouting For Girls – It’s Not About You, Lyrics

To this situation we find ourselves in, we must say with the Apostle James:

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

James 3:10 English Standard Version (ESV)

Worse still, agreeing with the Apostle Paul, we see that we go along recklessly with them:

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Therefore, you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Romans 1:32-2:1 (ESV)

But, the Lord Jesus, through the Apostle John, puts the matter in perspective:

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

John 12:25 (ESV)

Much has been written on the interpretation of this verse. Calvin says in part:

He who, under the influence of immoderate desire of the present life, cannot leave the world but by constraint, is said to love life; but he who, despising life, advances courageously to death, is said to hate life.

Not that we ought absolutely to hate life, which is justly reckoned to be one of the highest of God’s blessings;

but because believers ought to cheerfully lay it down, when it retards them from approaching to Christ;

just as a man, when he wishes to make haste in any matter, would shake off from his shoulders a heavy and disagreeable burden.

Further, we are to live for the good of others:

So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Romans 12:5, 10, 16 (ESV)

Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves and others, we don’t give others honor or affection:

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 5:15, 26; 6:2 (ESV)

But, if we trust the Father to do for us that which we do not do (i.e., change our behavior), then:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:11, 15 (ESV)

However, heed this admonition with a warning. Do not neglect it at your peril:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:7, 20, 21 (ESV)

The Lord Jesus Christ offers us an escape from our self-centeredness, if only we’d trust in His saving work on the cross.

The Guardian Personality

Roughly forty percent of all men and women are guardian personalities. They are solid, sensible, follow the rules even when no one is looking, move associatively from topic to topic in conversation, always on the lookout for rule breaking, humbly shoulder responsibilities “no matter what,” and suffer when unappreciated.

Guardians are dutiful, prepare for the worst, suffer bravely and patiently, catch and reprimand trespassers, and keep traditions, customs, and continuity with the past. They are helpmates as spouses, socializers as parents, and stabilizers as leaders. Presidents Washington, Bush (41), Truman, and Nixon possessed guardian personalities.

No doubt you know many that fit this description. The concerned citizens that attend town council meetings and staff polling places, the project manager who facilitates timely production, packing, and distribution, the police officer on the street who shields others from imminent danger, the loan official who goes the extra mile to get you affordable loan terms, and the long-suffering wife and mother next door with the truck driver husband and hellion son who sometimes shakes up the neighborhood.

Two weeks ago, we described the artisan personality. The guardian is another of the four personality types that’s important for writers to recognize and portray. David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me is a useful reference for writers who want to fully flesh out their characters.

Keirsey says Hippocrates and Galen observed that there are four personality types. Later scientists refined their observations by identifying four distinctions within each type.

Keirsey defines the guardian personality as concrete in their word use and cooperative in their tool use. They talk about what’s solid and sensible: commerce, household items, weather, recreation, news items and personalities. They believe that only by establishing and obeying rules and regulations can civil order be maintained.

Guardians fall into four subcategories, each containing approximately ten percent of the population. Two are characterized as monitoring: the expressive supervisor and the reserved inspector. The supervisor enforces standard operating procedures. In the home, it’s not enough that others do assigned duties, they must want to do them. The inspector works behind the scene on products and accounts, is watchful for irregularities from rules, and is simple and down-home.

The two other subtypes are conserving: expressive providers and reserved protectors. The provider furnishes others with life’s necessities, makes others part of their group, and is personable and talkative. The protector shields others from dirt and danger of this world, sees to others physical safety and security, and chats tirelessly with a close circle of friends.

Guardians regard companies and corporations as indispensable social institutions that enable them to earn their keep and provide for family. They feel responsible for the morality of their group, guarding right and wrong.

They give their all from a young age. Pain and suffering are unavoidable and must be faced bravely. They believe: “if anything can go wrong it will,” and prepare accordingly. They keep others in line. They are creatures of habit who faithfully follow routines. They value family and societal history.

They shoulder responsibilities “no matter what.” They feel: “if I don’t do it, who will,” and suffer when they’re unappreciated. They are obligated to do good deeds. But they may feel put upon if help isn’t offered (to be shooed away, of course). Receiving service is blow to their self-respect. Modest, unassuming, self-effacing, they crave respect and public recognition.

Concerned about homes, jobs, families, their neighborhood; duties and responsibilities; health, finances, how they dress, whether they’re on time. They worry too much about loved ones and society’s direction. They believe in hierarchical authority structures and are likely to believe in a supreme being. Since the world is going to hell in a handbasket, it’s the institutions that hold people accountable and teach values. They feel appreciated to the degree others are grateful for what they’ve done for them. It is galling when others take them for granted, but they believe responsibility far outweighs entitlement to gratitude. They desire the power to set things straight in light of right and wrong.

They’re ready to roll up their sleeves and work side-by-side with their spouse to build a comfortable, stable family life. Loyal and obligated to stand by their mate in times of trouble and help them straighten up and fly right. Guardians see to it that children are civilized, enculturated, in support of and in step with the community. They carefully administer what is done, how it is done, and who is to do it.

As we wrote in “Why Are There Four Gospel Accounts?” an earlier blog posting, these traits describe some peoples’ predispositions. Their experiences can mold them, as far as they are willing and able, so that they acquire attributes of the other personality types. These attributes in sum could be said to be their overall dispositions.

If you are a writer, I heartily recommend reading Keirsey’s book for yourself. I created detailed outlines for my personal use. You may profit from the same effort. We’ll review Keirsey’s take on the Idealist and Rational personality types in the next few weeks.

Truman - The Buck Stops Here

Former President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) at a president’s desk reproduction with foreground “The buck Stops Here” sign, ca. July 1959, Public Domain, Credit: Harry S. Truman Library & Museum