by Christian Penn
Walk into any successful business and you will almost immediately discover that that business has a personality. Delve further into the history of that business and you will discover that the personality of that business will most often reflect the personality of the owner of that business or the manager of that branch. A criticism often made of pastors who have built strong churches is that they have a “personality-driven” church. Sadly many good people are affected by this argument and lose sight of the truth that God uses our personalities to accomplish His work.
The definition of the word personality is as follows: The combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. Qualities that make someone interesting or popular. The root word of personality is “person.” Apparently, the God who formed each of us made us to be unique “personalities” and not all alike. Some personalities are loud and others quiet. Some are outgoing and others more introverted. Some are serious and others more fun loving. God made us to be unique.
Now it would seem obvious that the works of God are driven by the personality of the man behind that ministry just as a business, a family or any organization are influenced greatly by the one who leads that entity. You may not like someone’s personality but using one’s personality to build their work is akin to using one’s talents or gifts. Not to use that personality would be foolish. A person’s personality is who they are based on the experiences of their life.
If you study the history of great churches you will find the strong evidence of the personality of the man God used to build that church. Certainly, Spurgeon’s Tabernacle took on the personality of Charles Spurgeon just as your church has taken on the personality of your pastor. If you are a pastor you would be a phony if you tried to squelch the person you are. Be who you are even as you commit yourself to the leading of the Spirit of God.
Imagine if every pastor preached with the same personality. That would certainly be boring. Your personality enhances your ability to communicate with others. What if every church was led by men trying to be exactly the same? It is our unique personality that often draws diverse people to attend our churches and even to respond to the Gospel. A man is not right or wrong based on his personality but rather by the truth he teaches and preaches.
So what role should your personality play in a ministry? Should we squelch our personalities or should we instead commit them to the Lord? Obviously, we should commit ourselves to the Lord fully allowing the Holy Spirit to change us in whatever way would make us more useful to Him. God allows a diversity of personalities to accomplish the diversity of His purpose. We make a terrible error if we attempt to change our personality on our own or if we try to take on the personality of another. If we submit ourselves, God will make the changes in us that would best fit His purpose.
Yes, there is a danger that followers can attempt to over emulate the personality of a leader, but that happens in every area of life. By nature, we often begin to take on the personality of one we follow and admire. Many preacher boys who studied under great men like Lee Roberson or Tom Malone took on personality traits of those men. That is not necessarily a bad thing as long as they also emulated the heart of the man. To criticize Lee Roberson because his followers were like him is not wise.
Strong leaders typically have strong personalities. Jesus never attempted to squelch the personality of Peter, but rather molded his personality to do a great work for him. Peter was Peter. No doubt there were men in his day who accused Peter of building his work around his personality. Such criticisms certainly are not new. No doubt Peter was a powerful personality and as a result, had others who emulated him.
Do not be affected by these criticisms. God molds personalities and then uses them. Do not follow personality for personality sake, but do not run from a man of a great personality who God is blessing and using. Above all, be the person God made you to be and allow Him to use your personality for His purpose.
by Christian Penn