It is often said that a person can be categorized into one of four different temperaments: sanguine, choleric, melancholy, phlegmatic. This is interesting because it gives us an objective, studied perspective on ourselves, allowing us to be aware of advantages in belonging to a certain temperament as well as disadvantages. Surprisingly, even some of the greatest characters in the Holy Bible can be categorized into one of these four temperaments. For a more detailed study on the topic, it’s best to take a look at this article:
The four temperaments are as follows:
Sanguine is the most emotionally-swayed type out of all. The person with this temperament likes to have fun above everything, and relishes at being the center of attention. This is not to say that they simply seek attention, for they also tend to be genuine human beings that speak what’s on their mind without any filters. This can come across as warm and sincere, but it is definitely necessary for people with sanguine disposition to think before they speak. To give a list of adjectives, a person with a sanguine temperament is “affectionate, loving, cheerful, optimistic, hopeful, and confident.”
However, often times such people mislead the conversation by talking too much about themselves or turning the focus on them. They tend to be easily distracted by things that are going on around them, so they are not much reliable at times. They tend to forget and get tired of things easily, because they value fun above all.
Example: Apostle Peter.
Apostle Peter was said to have a sanguine temperament. It is easy to witness Apostle Peter acting impulsively and straight out of his emotional epiphanies. For example, in John 18:10, Peter drew his sword and “slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.” This was when Jesus was betrayed by one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot, and just before being captured under the order of the high priests. Peter’s action greatly disturbed Jesus, who then proceeded to scold him and reattach the ear back into the servant.
People with Choleric temperament seek authority and dominance in everything they do, especially in a group setting. They are goal-oriented people that bypass anything they perceive to have trivial effect on their goal. They are quick in assessing what needs to be done to achieve their goals, and work fast and hard to attain them. They are fast problem solvers, not swaying this way or that and obsessing over every little detail. They rarely change their stance once they’ve made up their minds, and are very responsible. They are born leaders capable of pulling others into their direction.
They are not at all sensitive to others’ opinions for they are not the type to be influenced by them. They are very pragmatic in their approach to everything, so they are inapt at being a caring, consoling friend. They are quick tempered, and are aggravated easily.
Example: Apostle Paul.
Apostle Paul seemed to have a choleric temperament. Studying under an acclaimed Jewish Law teacher named Gamaliel, he was a zealous student of Judaism. His fierce devotion to the religion had him initially leading a campaign against Christians, one of which was stoning the deacon Stephen to death. It was only after meeting Jesus Christ that he became a changed man, turning his fierce loyalty towards Jesus and spending the remainder of his life evangelizing and establishing connections with other Christians in other parts of the world.
These people tend to be quiet and reserved. They tend to be introverts, preferring to have a deep conversation with one person over having cocktail conversations with many. They are keenly sensitive to what others may say about them, and may brood over something that Sanguines would laugh-by as jokes. They are studious people that value inner qualities over external beauty. Often times people with melancholic personality are gifted with intelligence, and are attributed with adjectives such as “moody, depressed,” and “gloomy.” They have few but loyal friends, and tend to be altruistic to the point of being self-sacrificial.
Example: Moses and Apostle Thomas.
Phlegmatic people want peace and therefore evade from any potential conflict or trouble. They are usually well-rested and calm, and are easy to befriend. As they hate conflict, they tend to blend-in well with whoever they’re with. They are introverts, and aren’t willing to act unless prompted to. They are neat and easy-going without much deep brooding in their mind, like the Melancholys. They would rather be passive observers than intense corroborators. As they are social chameleons, it is sometimes difficult to know what’s really on their mind.
In her article on the temperaments, Dr. Faith Abraham discusses the concept of spirit controlled temperaments and shows us the trajectory of transformation each Bible figures mentioned here have gone through. By the grace of God, each temperament has gained further strengths that were once weaknesses. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Sanguines will develop self-discipline that they normally lack; Choleric will become loving, peaceful, gentle, and caring; the Melancholys will replace their gloominess with joy, peace, and meekness; and Phlegmatics will become more involved and motivated to act instead of being indifferent and fearful of confrontations.
Humility: Apostle Peter no longer sought to attract crowds when he performed God’s miracles (Acts 9:36-42).
Faith: Apostle Paul no longer trusted his ego, instead entirely on Christ (Phillipians 4: 13)
Meekness: Moses was said to be “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) *Note that this is after God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and towards the promised land of Canaan.
Courage: Abraham saves his nephew Lot from the invasion of an alliance of provincial kings (Genesis 14).
It is inspiring to know that despite our potential short comings based on what our temperaments are, the Holy Spirit will further complete us into finer human beings to be used for God’s glory. We should all be grateful for whatever temperaments we possess and hope to be used accordingly for God’s purpose.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. –Galatians 5:22-23
What temperament are you?