Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2020
Estimated Reading Time: 3 min. 31 sec.
Have you ever taken one of those personality tests floating around online?
You can find out “Which Disney Princess Are You?” Or, in case you’re curious, you can also take the quiz “Which Vegetable Are You?” How about the Myers-Briggs personality test? These tests tap into a very human desire to want to understand ourselves. What makes me special? Why do I do the things I do? What, exactly, is personality?
Mr. Jonathan McNair asks this question in his Christian Living class. In the section “The Challenge of Being You,” we analyzed the dynamic between personality and character. Mr. McNair simplified a person into three main parts:
Disposition, Character, and Personality
“Disposition” is what I’m naturally disposed to be. How tall am I? What features has my DNA assigned me? Am I an emotional person? Even the environment in which I grew up and the one in which I now live plays a part in building me into who I am. It is the part of me that is, in many ways, out of my control.
On the other hand, “character,” Mr. McNair said in his lecture, “is knowing the right thing to do and doing it.” Character, unlike disposition, is a controlled response. It’s like the anchor. If disposition is largely personal and individually unique, the principles of character-building apply to us all. It is a common standard. Even more interesting, character tempers people’s different dispositions respectively so the end result is a unique personality.
Personality consists of experiences, actions, and attitude. It is who we are when our disposition influences our choices while our character grounds our narrow experiences with moral principles. If this is a more accurate understanding of personality, can we separate our personality from who we are, or are we that personality? If we choose to separate ourselves from our personality, are we using it as an excuse?
“Oh, that’s just my personality!”
There is a sort of group-identity struggle between extroverts and introverts. Extroverts might call introverts lazy for not participating enough, and introverts might accuse extroverts of hogging all the attention in a group. But it takes extraordinary effort for some to talk to a newcomer in the congregation. And for some of us, we have to learn to shut up and let someone else share. As an extrovert, my character is built every time I let someone else have the floor. And when introverts willingly introduce themselves to new people, are they not being led by their character, not their disposition?
How do I Raise My Personality to a Higher Standard?
The Apostle Peter is characterized by his boldness. In Matthew 16:13-19, we read Peter’s response, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter’s zeal is admirable, if misguided. When he swung his sword to defend Christ, I don’t think he intended to miss. But Peter’s disposition dominated his personality. Earlier, he even had the audacity to rebuke Jesus Christ. Eventually, his courage proved empty when he abandoned Christ to be crucified. So how did he become the servant God used to establish the Church that the gates of Hades would not overcome? God trained his personality to be led by character. His boldness became more than a natural trait; it became who he was to the core. Tempered by character, his personality grew to reflect a real courage. Ultimately, he defended Christ’s name with his life.
I am a collection of genes, experiences, and events, tempered by character. But maybe there can be more to me than who I am now. Perhaps God can create in me a better version of myself by weaving His mind into my character. Maybe, with God’s help, I can do a personality makeover. On second thoughts, it’s not just a maybe—it’s a must.
Juliette McNair is a student at Living Education Charlotte. She works in the Editorial Department transcribing sermons and proofreading transcripts. She also assists Living Education by writing Second Thoughts essays and Forum/Assembly Summaries for the website. Juliette recently graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in Upstate New York with an A.A.S in Horticulture, a B.T in Plant Science, and a minor in English with a writing focus. She loves playing soccer on the beach, getting up early to watch the sunrise, and playing piano with the lights out.