Nine Spiritual Temperaments

I remember Pastor Rick Warren wrote, “Surrender is the heart of worship.”  Offering ourselves to God is what worship is all about… and God wants 100% of who we are.  Others have said, “Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are—mind, emotions, will, body—to what God is and says and does”.  These are both wonderful ways to understand worship.  But perhaps a still more excellent way to understand worship is found in the work of Gary Thomas who studied the history of worship. He found that worship is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition.  In his book Sacred Pathways, he identifies Nine of the ways people have found to draw near to God in worship.  He refers to them as Nine Sacred Pathways, or Nine Spiritual temperaments that God creates in human beings so that we can connect and worship God in unique ways.
  1. Naturalists— love God best outdoors. These people worship in the midst of God’s Creation. They celebrate God’s majesty and discover spiritual truths through nature
  2. Sensates— love God through their senses. These people worship through sense experiences —sights (like art), sounds (music), smells, and more
  3. Traditionalists— love God through religious ritual and symbols. These people worship through time honored traditions of the Church. They believe structure, and repetition, like weekly liturgy, leads to deeper understanding of God and faith
  4. Ascetics— love God in solitude and simplicity. These people worship through prayer and quiet time, free from the encumbrances of outside noise and distraction
  5. Activists— love God through engaging and confronting, fighting for godly principles and values. They worship through dedication to and participation in God’s vision for social and evangelistic causes
  6. Caregivers— love God by serving others, and worship by giving of themselves. They may nurse the sick and disabled, care for a stranger, donate time at a shelter, etc.
  7. Enthusiasts— love God through mystery and celebration. These people worship with outward displays of passion and enthusiasm. They love God with gusto!
  8. Contemplatives— love God through adoration. These people worship by their attentiveness, deep love, and spiritual connection. They have an active prayer life
  9. Intellectuals— love God with their mind and their hearts are opened up to a new attentiveness when they understand something new about God. These people worship through intense study, apologetics, and intellectual pursuits of their faith.

Always Remember…. We are a mixture… we rarely rely on a single approach or temperament to connect with God every time; God blesses us with a mix of several temperaments… And…

Our Temperaments change— Spiritual temperaments evolve over time. We are likely to find different ways to connect with God at different times in our lives.

You can learn more about your Spiritual Temperament in the book Sacred Pathways. Another wonderful resource is the web page of Grace Church in Overland Park, Kansas (

 God has created us all to be a people of worship… but we don’t all respond to the Awesome Love and Amazing Grace of our God in the same way.  Discover your Spiritual Temperament. As we share with one another how we best connect with God we will All be blessed… like the hymn says, “In our difference is Blessing… from diversity we Praise…”                                                            

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Mark Brady



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