Feed My Sheep
"Simon son of John, do you love me?" . . . He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." John 21:16, 17, NIV.
Peter is my kind of person—a crash-and-burn type! In the early days of every church the leaders have the burning passion essential for the success of the little band of believers. My family's roots are in the mission work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America. Knowing the real people and hearing stories of their courage and bravery bring a lump to my throat. Those men and women were modern Peters—nothing was too much for them.
A few years later as the church became well established, fewer places remained for the Peters. The Matthews, the Jameses, and other types of personalities now prevailed. In fact, the church let it be known that if you wanted to succeed you needed to demonstrate the qualities of steadiness, order, and position. Yes, there was a place for the caring Johns, but the only place the Pauls were welcome was at a seminary!
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, noted the differences in personalities among the people. He called some phlegmatics, people who care and thus might choose as their model John the Beloved. Some the ancient Greek saw as melancholics—people who need rightness and position; people who, like Matthew and the Pharisees, make the social order, but who can be teachable or obstinate, depending on their walk with the Master. Hippocrates identified the cholerics, such as Paul, who always, even as children, ask why and how and must organize everything around them and finish the task. And finally he defined the sanguines, those who, like Peter, set out with passion to do what needs to be done.
Many different personalities. Many different talents. What has the church done with them? Do we force all people into one mold? Do we classify some as good and others as bad?
Jesus valued all the varied persons among His disciples. He got to know them in order to serve them. Through grace He gave them what they needed, not what they deserved. Our Saviour put them to work in service in the way their talents best fit. If only we could learn to do the same!
Are you more like John, Matthew, Paul, or Peter? How accepting are you of those with different personality characteristics?
Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.