Our Unique Inborn Temperament

Soul and Spirit

The Bible goes to great lengths to make it known that each one of us has been deliberately created by God.  Countless scriptures affirm the truth of creation.  And in the creation narrative, God not only created man and woman, He placed a specific design within each and every one of us.

The apostle Paul, in one of his letters, refers to this amazing design that separates man from all other living creatures:  “May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:23 NIV).  This affirms that we consist of body, soul, and spirit.  Our material bodies are evident, but our souls and spirits are less distinguishable.

The meaning of the word Paul used for “soul” embodies our mind, will, and emotions.  These three are evident in our personal preferences, choices, and desires, as well as our interactions with other human beings.  The nature of who we are is reflected most accurately through the unique characteristics of our inborn temperament.

The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma.  It refers to the part of man that connects and communicates with God – much like the wind, very real yet not humanly visible.  It is given to us by God and is the source of life (see John 6:63).  Our spirit differs from our soul, in that only through our spirit can we experience the very presence and nature of God.

While everyone’s soul is fully active, not everyone’s spirit is, because when Adam fell to sin, the spirit died and was separated from God.  Only in Christ is the spirit reconnected and reconciled:  “At one time you were separated from God.  But now, by his death, Christ has made you God’s friends again” (Colossians 1:21-22 NIV).

Layers of Temperament

The APS temperament profile is greatly effective in describing the inborn nature of a person’s soul – mind, will, and emotions.  The effects our lives have had on these three elements – both developmental and detrimental – are the essence of what we have been unpacking in the preceding chapters.

In creating the APS, Drs. Arno designated the three elements of human temperament in this way:  Inclusion (our mind, and how it interfaces with the environment we’re in), Control (our will, and how it carries out and responds to decisions, tasks, and authority), and Affection (our emotions, and how they express and respond to human feelings).

Metaphorically, these three temperament elements exist in what I conceptualize as “layers.”

Inclusion (mind) is how our five senses interpret to what extent the people, places, and things in our surroundings might sufficiently meet the needs of our temperament.

Control (will) acts upon, decides, or responds to the information our mind has gathered, both consciously and subconsciously, present and past.

Affection (emotions) causes us to emotionally process and respond to the input from our mind and will, both desirable and undesirable, present and past.

Temperament grid in colorInborn Temperament Needs

Drs. Richard and Phyllis Arno, in their book Created In God’s Image, do a magnificent job of explaining the interconnection between these three temperament elements:

The interpersonal relationship will be established and maintained according to the temperament needs that the individual is endeavoring to meet.  This illustrates how temperament needs determine how we behave.

Inclusion, Control, and Affection are comprised of needs within the temperament that must be met and are determining factors in other personality traits as well.

The area of Inclusion determines intellectual energies, whether we relate better to tasks or people, and how impulsive our behavior may be.  The area of Control determines how well we make decisions, carry out our responsibilities, and how dependent or independent we are.  The area of Control also determines how strong our will is.  The area of Affection will determine how many of our emotions we share or how emotionally guarded or open we are.  This area also helps determine the depth of our feelings, and how intimate we are with deep relationships in our life.”

Our mind, our will, and our emotions are each fashioned by God with inborn needs, strengths, and weaknesses.  This is common to all mankind.  What makes us unique, though, is the combination of these inborn needs we were given, and how adequately our childhood, as well as our life as a whole, has attended to these needs.

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