Recently I was presenting on temperaments and spirituality in a class at Parkview and a man asked a question about why he had to think everything through so extensively. He had identified with the NT (intuitive/thinking) temperament, and he asked if it affected a person's whole life. I said "Yes" and then asked, "What do you do for a living?"
He smiled and said, "I'm an accountant." I said, "I had a feeling."
I'm not psychic (though I know you were convinced I was), the simple truth is that our temperaments determine a great deal of our life decisions. The whole point of this "Divine Wiring" series is to try and see where our temperaments can be harnessed to relate to God.
And now, the NT's.
Authors Michael & Norissey in their book Prayer and Temperament assign each temperament type a saint that had similar characteristics. They assigned the NT temperament to St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest scholars in the history of Christianity. The reason is that the NT temperament is a thoughtful, rational, and analytical temperament. NT's need to see the history of an idea and think it through from every possible angle before they can come to terms with it. They love intellectual challenges - puzzles like Sudoku appeal to a NT and they are most alive when they are challenged by an idea or thought that is difficult to process.
The downside of the NT is that moving from thinking to action doesn't happen naturally, and sometimes the need to think through ideas can be paralyzing. NT's can also struggle with pride as their academic and intellectual strength may lead them to put those who are not as intellectually gifted or driven at a lower status than themselves. They understand process very well, how to get from point A to point B, but an interruption in that logical movement can be difficult for them to navigate.
Here are some keys to a NT's relationship with God:
1. Take time in prayer to think on one Biblical idea or aspect of God. Choose grace, holiness, justice, or sovereignty and spend time thinking about how these concepts work. Imagine that they are on display at a museum, and mentally walk around the display noticing the different aspects of each concept.
2. Bring intellectually stimulating reading into your life regularly. God has given you a deep desire to use your brain, and the best way to do that is to stretch it. Reading authors like Timothy Keller, N.T. Wright, and Dallas Willard will bring your mind to focus on ideas and understandings of God that will engage your natural thinking and reasoning skills plus it will give God space to transform you through your mind.
3. Discipline yourself to serve actively on a regular basis. NT's are typically good at seeing where they fall short and creating a plan for how to fix their issues. This can be a roadblock to depending on God's grace from time to time, however when it comes to moving from thinking to acting an NT can use that natural discipline to bring regular serving opportunities into their lives. Find a local food bank, soup kitchen, shelter or simply engage in service at your local church. Take the things that you are learning and mull them over as you apply your hands to the work of service.
4. Find a spiritual director to help you soften your "T." The ancient spiritual writers talked about prayer as "descending with the mind into the heart." Just as spending time in the mind without action is dangerous, spending time thinking without an avenue to let those thoughts change our motivations can be hazardous to our spiritual health as well. A trained spiritual director can help you move from the thoughts that God is placing before you to how those thoughts should change your motivations for living each day. They will guide you to see how the thoughts God is bringing you through prayer and intuition (remember, you're still an "N" as well) come together to shape you and your formation into the likeness of Christ. You can find a list of spiritual directors here or you could contact your local church for more resources.
I pray that those of you who wear the NT temperament find God active in your minds, as you take in the world and think it through, may His thoughts be your thoughts and may you move from thinking to doing the bold and beautiful work of the Kingdom today.
If you want to catch up on the other temperaments, you can find them here:
You can also take the FREE temperament sorter here to find out your temperament.