Earlier this week, my Mom and Dad came up from Florida to visit me here in Iowa. In full honesty, they were actually here to visit with their grandkids, especially their newest grandson, Derrick. But still, I think they enjoyed seeing me and my wife as well.
Being from Florida, my parents practically froze to death out here on the prairie with our temps being in the upper 40’s. I assured them that this has been the warmest weather that Iowa has seen in months, but with their bodies use to the balmy temps of the Florida panhandle, my factual perspective was met with comedic skepticism. I mean, how could the 40’s of Iowa be considered warm when they had just come from the land of sunshine with the temps in the upper 70’s and 80’s? Perspective is key.
You know, the same is true with our evangelism endeavors…Perspective is key. Often, we communicate the Gospel message in ways that are factual, but the way we present the information falls on deaf ears. Why is that?
Well, as I was talking with my Dad (a chaplain at a men’s home in Pensacola, FL), he revealed something fascinating. He mentioned that different personality types often hear the Gospel message in different ways. When we force one style of the Gospel message on the hearer, we are often met with frustrating results. My Dad explained that there are three main personality types, with three main ways of looking at life, and that we should strive to communicate the life-saving message of the Gospel in line with each of these unique personalities…He explains that…
There are those who view life as a “puzzle to be figured out.” These are people that see other people (and life itself) “as mysteries to be solved.” On the positive side of the equation, such people tend to be wowed and amazed by life and often become our scientists and doctors. On the negative side of the equation, such people tend to be very skeptical, scared, and isolated from others. Such people need the Gospel explained to them through the lens of “puzzle” or “mystery”. For instance, they need to be told that the God who loves them and wishes to redeem them is a God who can never really be figured out and His ways, though wonderful and amazing, are often very “mysterious…”
Then there are those people who view life as a “battle to be won.” These are people that see other people (and life itself) in terms of “enemies or allies.” On the positive side of the equation, such people tend to become our societal heroes, our soldiers and law enforcement officers. But on the negative side of the equation, such people can become our society’s criminals, abusers, or manipulators. Such people need the radical message of the Gospel to be explained to them in terms of the “spiritual battle” that rages all around us. For instance, these folks need serious illustrations in your Gospel presentation to them of the awfulness of sin, the darkness of the world, and the glorious Light of the World that has conquered and won the battle over sin and Satan.
Then, finally, there are those people who view life as a “gift to be given away.” These are people that see other people (and life itself) as an “opportunity to serve.” On the positive side of the equation, such people tend to go into the helping professions and become clergy or social workers. On the negative side of the equation, such people can become enablers, controllers, or abusive leaders. Such a personality type needs the message of the Gospel explained through the lens of a “gift.” For instance, they need to be told how much God gave to them and how loving He is to all of us who “call upon the name of the Lord…”
Interesting, is it not? At the very least, it gives you cause for pause. Now, I want to be crystal clear, these personality types are not Gospel-gold. These are merely categories of perspective to help you as you navigate the difficult waters of sharing your faith with your family and friends. So, I would challenge you (like my Dad challenged me), which personality type are you? Are you primarily the “puzzler”, the “battler”, or the “gifter”? And which personality type are you actively sharing the Gospel with right now? Are you the “battler” personality trying to share the Gospel with a “gifter”? Perhaps you’re a “puzzler” trying to share the Gospel with a “battler”? The point is this, we should strive to be like the Apostle Paul, who said, “Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law – though I myself am not under the law – to win those under the law. To those who are without that law, like one without the law – not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law – to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits” (1 Cor. 9:19-23).