You don’t have to read far into the story of St. Francis of Assisi to find out he would give the modern parent/authority figure an ulcer.
He drained his savings to rebuild a church because Jesus, hanging on a cross on the wall, told him to.
He disrobed completely in the town square and walked into the wilderness naked in protest to his father’s wealth.
He hugged lepers and laid in the filth of Italy’s urban gutters with the most despicable folks (according to society) under the sun.
It is telling then that in their book Prayer and Temperament, Michael & Norrisey call the SP temperament “Franciscan.” The SP temperament is aptly given to St. Francis because the sensing/perceiving temperament has a wild streak in it. SP’s don’t yield to the status quo. They are always cutting their own path, always moving to the beat of a different drum and from time to time they ignore the drum altogether and march to the beat of a tuba.
Which is impossible because a tuba is not a rhythm instrument, anyway I digress…
The SP’s are not long-term thinkers. They are heavily concerned with the presence of God here and now. They aren’t easily discouraged, and they are typically very positive about what is happening at the moment as they look for new ways to be involved in the present. They rarely take a static position on any issue, instead they leave space to change their position if the moment requires them to do so.
In Christian theology, they are people of the “Incarnation” – the real presence of Jesus in the world, in the flesh, and they think at length about how they can be Jesus in their present situation. The downside for an SP is that they are typically not suited for long-term projects, and can lose focus easily on situations requiring persistence and stability over long periods of time especially if circumstances change for them in the meantime.
So what does the typical SP do to sustain their relationship with God?
1. Make sure to incorporate some aspect of creation or service in your life. The ability to see tangible representations of God in the present world is essential to an SP, so being in creation and seeing God’s beauty or helping another person and seeing the image of God in their face in that moment are everyday sanctuaries where SP’s can be drawn to the God who creates all things.
2. Make short term commitments (in general) when it comes to spiritual practices. An SP should avoid trying to read through the Bible in a year or attempts to read through long books of the Bible all at once. I say “in general” because it is important to get the whole scope of Scripture through reading an entire book, but it should be the exception not the rule. Finding a reading schedule for Scripture that allows for a variety (Psalms, History, Gospels, Prophecy, etc.). Allow yourself to shift and change approaches to spending time with God so as to avoid feeling stuck in a rut with your spiritual practices. You will get bored with your plan – accept it and plan for it.
3. Seek out wise counsel and LISTEN to them. SP’s are typically those who buck the status quo. They can be loners, cutting their own path and isolating themselves to focus on the things that matter most at the moment. What they lose in this is perspective on past and future thinking. It is critical for an SP to find someone they respect, someone older than themselves either spiritually or chronologically, from whom they can gain insight on the present by hearing the lessons of the past and possibilities of the future. A small group may be helpful, but a one on one meeting once a month may sit better with a true SP.
4. Pray “breath prayers.” It is important that prayer be short, focused and portable for the SP. You are imminently aware of what’s going on at the moment and desire strongly to get involved in it, so having prayers such as “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” and “Come Holy Spirit, be my guide” can be powerful ways to pray as you go. Having a structured time for prayer is helpful for an SP to help take the bite out of their “seat of the pants” lifestyle, but ultimately you need to harness your SP and pray as you go. Praying short prayers such as those above or prayers that you create yourself will allow you to locate Jesus in the midst of present activity.
I hope this series has been helpful for you – please take a moment and read back over the other three posts to get a greater sense of how God is using your natural wiring to draw you to Him.
If you don’t know how you’re wired, take a few moments today and find out here.