1. How many times have you heard or said to someone “It’s not all about you.” Never focus on yourself. It is selfish to focus on yourself. Discuss whether you agree or disagree. Who should we focus on?
The right bible study answer is always God or Jesus; we must first focus on God. Right!?
Jesus said in John 13:34
“‘Love …As I have loved you,’”
Jesus wouldn’t command us to love if we were programmed to automatically, unconditionally love God, our neighbor and ourselves. We just would.
We are free to love or hate whoever we want. It would be easier if we were programmed to obey all the commandments. It would be easier if we were programmed to love. But we’re not.
We have a choice. We get into trouble when we focus all our attention or blindly cast our will to other people. There is no auto pilot for love. We can’t friend God on Facebook and be covered for life. Nor can we marry someone and expect them to know we love them forever with no further action on our part. And the same is true for loving ourselves. There is only one bath that keeps us clean forever – baptism.
Love is not as simple or as natural as it’s portrayed in Hallmark commercials. Love is learned, it must be experienced, otherwise why would the Bible have so many instructions, chapters, books and verses about love.
God is relational. Love begins with God. It doesn’t begin with us loving God. It begins with Jesus loving us. Jesus tells us to love ourselves as God loves us. In turn, love God as Jesus first loved you with His whole heart, soul, strength and mind on the cross.
The most basic step to a healthy relationship is self-care. Jesus commanded us to love others as ourselves. Therefore, we must learn how to fully love ourselves. It’s not a sin, it’s a command.
“‘Love …As I have loved you,’” John 13:34
God wrote us a love letter to learn how to love. Our love letter tells us to cry out to God when we are hurt; no problem is too small for God. God loves us for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from before time to this day forward until death when nothing will keep us apart.
“‘Love …As I have loved you,’” John 13:34
2. What have we learned so far about healthy relationships?
Love is the key ingredient to a healthy relationship. In a healthy relationship both individuals feel loved and supported. They know they are loved.
3. Do you feel loved and supported? Do you know you are loved? It is easier to love someone you understand. How well do you know yourself? What makes you unique? How are you different?
God created us to be different with many different types of personalities. God uses different personalities to complement one another. Our strengths and weaknesses fit together into a unique community puzzle.
Unfortunately many don’t value differences. Society labels some traits as good and others bad.
When well-meaning parents, teachers, friends or spouses buy into these lies and try to “improve” their children, students, friends or spouse by telling them to be more outgoing, slow down, take control or be less sensitive they disrupt the unique balance of the different personalities. And they are rarely successful in making a positive change. Instead their criticism damages the self-esteem of the person they think they are trying to help.
We are born with our personality traits and have little control over changing them.
Therefore, it is important to shake off well-meaning criticisms of our quirks and differences. It is healthy to celebrate our individualities. All traits have value and shine in certain situations. Learning about the different personality types helps understand our own personality and the people around us. We learn how to nurture ourselves and find ways to improve communication with others.
Personalities are made up of many characteristics or traits which define how we relate to others, our pace or speed, attitudes, interests and actions. These traits are on a continuum with some stronger than others. Because they are on a continuum some change depending on our environment and the personalities around us. But our character remains the same. For example, you may be extremely organized at work but more relaxed at home but you’re still organized.
As we come together, our personalities interact and influence one another. For example, several friends may all be introverts but when they get together one may seem like an extrovert compared to the others. An accurate personality assessment requires a well-crafted evaluation. However most of us have a basic understanding of where we fall in the range.
4. Personality Characteristics: Note on the line where you fall for each personality trait.
Being an extrovert or an introvert has little to do with whether we like people. This trait is more about energy than relationship. Extroverts seek an outside energy source and introverts have an inward energy source.
Extroverts draw their energy from interactions with the people around them. The more time they spend with other people, the more energized they become. Extroverts can be shy. They are not always loud or talkative but extroverts gravitate toward social interaction. Extroverts lose energy while alone and can become depressed in the absence of others. Therefore it is important to encourage extroverts to socialize.
Introverts reenergize in the absence of other people. Introverts find interactions with other people draining regardless of how they feel about the other person. Time with a loved one is just as draining as the person sitting next to them on the bus. So it is really important for introverts to have a space of their own to reenergize especially if they spend most of their day with other people.
If an extrovert and an introvert are invited to a party, the extrovert may feel too exhausted to go to the party while the introvert may be full of energy and eager to go. At the party the extrovert gains energy while the introvert becomes drained with each social interaction.
The spectrum is related to how long your battery lasts. An extreme extrovert’s battery runs down quickly in the absence of people so they needs lots of daily contact with people. An extreme introvert can go days without human contact and is easily exhausted by human interaction.
Extroverts and introverts can become overwhelmed, overstimulated and exhausted. Introverts and extroverts can equally be people-oriented or task-driven. They are equally intelligent. Extroverts and introverts may put others needs before their own and be overly concerned about what others think. Both may be sensitive.
Recently, there has been much talk about ambiverts or people who draw their energy from people and time alone. Ambiverts are rare. Jesus and God are ambiverts. Jesus spent lots of time alone in the wilderness to pray and lots of time with people. If Jesus was an introvert He probably wouldn’t have had twelve disciples. If Jesus was an extrovert He would have been exhausted after 40 days in the wilderness. Also we know that Jesus is with each one of us all the time and in all places. That is a lot of social interaction even when we don’t acknowledge His presence.
5. Name extroverted and introverted biblical characters.
The rabbit and the turtle compete with one another at work, home or in the community. It is no secret that we all work at different paces. Couples, parents, teachers and employers quickly notice when someone has a different pace but rarely agree on which is better because it depends on the project. Each pace has a place in our unique puzzle. There are tasks that require speed and quick turns while others require accuracy and precision. And some require both. Fast paced individuals talk fast, move quickly and get a lot done in a short amount of time. Others have a much slower pace with life in general. They are more cautious and deliberate. Slower paced individuals may not get as much done but they may be more accurate and thorough. Both may have short attention spans and be impatient. It is futile to try to change someone’s pace.
6. Name fast and slow paced biblical characters.
Being assertive is important in communication. Some people are naturally assertive and are generally given credit for being more healthy and honest because of their directness. But this is an unfair assumption.
Passive individuals are peacemakers. They seek ways to interact positively. They are polite. They hate and therefore avoid conflict. They are sensitive to criticism. They don’t necessarily agree but will avoid conversations that may lead to disagreement. They are rarely competitive. Extremely passive individuals may be difficult to get to know because they don’t share all their thoughts or feelings. They may run away from an argument or find themselves frozen like a deer in headlights.
Assertive people are direct. They are able to express themselves and stand up for themselves. They are competitive. They love debating issues. They may create conflict for entertainment. They can be demanding and forceful. It is important for them to feel in control. They are often accused of being controlling but they are simply trying to control themselves and their environment. They rarely shy away from a fight unless unequally matched. They can be the protector or the bully.
7. Name passive and assertive biblical characters.
Task oriented people want to get things done. They like lists and have great pleasure in checking things off their list. They can become overly focused or worried about planning projects and activities. They value others for their accomplishments rather than as people. They have trouble understanding why they need other people as well as understanding the needs of others. It may be difficult to get their attention unless it relates to the task and they may have to be asked to look at the person speaking to them.
People-oriented people build relationships and develop community. People-oriented personalities focus on the needs of the people around them. They are genuinely concerned with building relationships and keeping people happy. They place more importance on the feelings and happiness of people than on their to-do list.
They are team and family oriented. They are more concerned for the group than the task. They may have unrealistic assumptions of other people’s motives or opinions. They may have trouble staying on task or difficulty understanding the importance of some tasks. They may need repeated instructions to complete tasks. They can become too focused on what other people think or what they want. They become stressed when trying to meet the needs of opposing relationships.
8. Name people and task-oriented biblical characters.
These are just a few personality characteristics that may bring people together or cause friction in a household. There are many other characteristics such as whether we make decisions with our heart (feelings) or head (thinkers). The important thing to remember is there is no right or wrong personality. They all have value in God’s kingdom.
It may be easier to get along with similar personalities but we restrict God’s grace and love when we restrict ourselves to people who look, act, think and believe just like us.
Our strengths help us to serve others while our weaknesses offer opportunities for others to serve us.
It is healthy to celebrate our individualities. Learning about our traits helps us understand why we do certain things different than others and see them as gifts and not weaknesses. Remember this week is all about learning how to love yourself.
How well do you take care of yourself? Take the assessment below to find out how well you love yourself. After completing the assessment, choose one item from each area that you will actively work to improve.
9. Check the ways you love yourself:
_____Words of affirmation
______Don’t embarrass or dishonor
______Freely express feelings and thoughts
______Pleasant inner voice
______Able to cry
______Able to express anger
______Healthy sleep and rest habits
______Never too busy
_______Can list positive qualities
______Seek counseling when needed
______Like– body, personality etc…
______Time – alone, fun, healing…
_____Take time off when needed
_____Seek medical care when needed
_____Try new things
______Find things to make you laugh
_____Spend time with others
______Balanced work, home & self
______Don’t misuse name
_____Never physically abusive
______No mood swings
_____Never emotionally abusive
_____No records of wrong
_____Don’t stress eat
10. In what ways are you good at loving yourself?
11. In what ways do you need to improve?
Remember, Jesus commanded us to love ourselves. It’s not a sin, it’s a command.
“‘Love …As I have loved you,’” John 13:34
Lord of Grace, you love me. You understand me. You have given me your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength and your body. Please Lord help me to be kinder and gentler with myself. Help me love myself the way you love me. Forgive me for the way I’ve treated someone you love dearly. Forgive me for the way I’ve treated myself. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Homework: This week pray to build a healthy, not hurtful relationship with yourself. Choose one item from each area of your self-love assessment that you will actively work to improve. Take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Carl Jung). Nurture an aspect of your personality. Keep track of your progress. Add a new item from each area each week. Talk with God.