What if I don’t have the same enthusiasm about things as others?

That is a question so many of us have but are afraid to ask. I was helped tremendously by a book my friend recommended. Here are some rough notes, but my recommendation is to read the whole book. You may be able to get it from the library or purchase a used copy at dealoz.com

sacred pathwaysSacred Pathways – Gary Thompson. You can download a study guide at http://www.garythomas.com/books/sacred-pathways/

Beware of expecting all Christians to have a certain type of quiet time, enjoyment, passion, ministry etc.  The temptation of every one is to take it to the extreme and get out of balance. The book of James encourages us to be well balanced for the devil prowls around looking who he can devour!

Naturalists  – Loving God outside

Sensates – Loving God with the senses – drawn to the liturgical, majestic, grace, classical music, intricate architecture

Traditionalists – Loving God through ritual and symbol

Ascetics – Loving God in solitude and simplicity – take away all the trappings

Activists – Loving God through confrontation – often view the church as a place to recharge their batteries so they can go back into the world to wage war against injustice

Caregivers – Loving God by loving others

Enthusiasts – Loving God with Mystery and Celebration – cheerleaders for God and the Christian life – they don’t want to just know concepts but to experience them, feel them and to be moved by them

Contemplatives – Living God through adoration – images of a loving Father and Bridegroom dominate their view of God

Intellectuals – Loving God with the mind – one of the ways to determine your dominant spiritual temperament is to list those Christians whom you most admire and seek to emulate.

Expanded Descriptions:

Naturalists – to appreciate the out doors we need to appreciate the Creator – walks that are truly helpful are walks in which I lay down my agenda at the first sign of grass and let God lead my mind where he may – one of the dangers is to get individualistic – or get out of balance.

Sensates – We are told to love God not only with our entire mind, but our heart as well.  Truth as a concept is often not enough for people who live in the world of senses – Vogt writes, “Truth must be embodied to be realized.  It must be incorporated to be understood.  No religious movement has ever been forceful or popular with out a rich corporeality.  An image, a rite, a creed, a feeling, a feast, a vision or a sacrament has always been used to embody it’s truth – awaken the senses- use the sense of touch – hold small objects in our hands as they pray for various people.

Traditionalists – possible to go through the motions and serve God without knowing Him, neglecting social obligations

Ascetics – true ascetics are strict with themselves but react others with supernatural gentleness – strict lives of self-denial so they would be free to contemplate God – they stress deeds before words – the demand to be warm when it is cold, and cool when it is hot reveals an infantile spiritual weakness – we want to be pampered – the temptation will be to overemphasize personal piety – Zech – “ask the people of the land and the priests when you fasted and mourned… was it really for me – danger to seek pain for it’s sake, seeking to gain God’s favor – Dietrick Bonhoeffer wrote that if we do not have some element of the ascetic in us we will find it hard to follow Christ – ascetic practices will keep us in balance no matter what our spiritual temperament is – three worlds of ascetics – solitude, austerity and strictness – they are strict only because they want to reserve a major portion of their lives for their passionate pursuit of God – living simply, taking retreats, enduring hardships

Activists – danger is lack of emphasis on personal sanctity.  The church has frequently had an uneasy relationship with activities and prophets.  We fondly remember those who have died but often loathe those who are still living/.  This should lead the activist to love God all the more because God may frequently be his or her only friend – need prayer to stay focused and unpolluted – hatred for sin can become hatred for people when activists become tired and spiritually depleted

Caregivers – temptation of judging, serving ourselves through serving others, holding narrow definitions, neglecting those closest to us – God makes those at home a priority

Enthusiast – equating good feelings with good worship – pure worship is an act of our will in which we offer our allegiance, praise and thanksgiving – we feel good during times of worship – conversely, just because we feel down or flat doesn’t mean we aren’t effectually worship God – feelings come and go – enthusiasts shouldn’t apologize for feeling them but they should avoid becoming dependent upon them.

Contemplatives – there is something about men and women who have devoted themselves to knowing God that touches our souls in a profound way – the C seeks to perform the first work of adoring God – God is known and described as the heavenly spouse in who all the contemplatives delight – C simply want to bathe in the ocean of love God has for his children, while the rest of us seem unfortunately content to experience that love drop by drop – we can’t make ourselves love God but we can prepare the way and according to Aquinas, desire is the most important think in the contemplative life – centering prayer focuses on being with and aware of God – it develops and matures the affective faculty of our souls that is so frequently crippled in our society – it is being rather than doing – aim is not to get an answer from God or even express commitment – the prayer of the heart focuses on emotional attachment to or adoration of God – I found that Christianity was intimacy with the Father and roads I travel as I lovingly relate to God.  I started relating to heaven and hell less as places and more as descriptions of communion or separation from God – some have failed to grasp the depth and calling of this love relationship with God, preferring instead to turn faith into ethical lists of dos and don’t – this rote obedience apart from adoration is not the faith that Jesus represented.

Intellectuals – the mind as well as the heart need to be renewed – doctrine affects our actions as surely as eyeglasses affect our sight – we need to be reminded of some doctrines every twenty minutes – danger is to substitute knowing for doing.


Some of us live with the mistaken impression that our faith needs only to be planted, not tended – just as a married couple will express their love for each other differently in their fifties than they did in their twenties, so our love relationship with God undergoes changes as we mature and walk through life.  We need to learn from one another rather than segregate ourselves within our own confining experiences – our lives take on different seasons and even our spiritual temperaments to meet the different demands of our changing life situations.

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