Church traditions, regardless of whether than have a clear denominational affiliation (e.g., the Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists…) not, tend to have a set of “disciplines” they believe are most critical to making progress towards maturity and are often unaware that there are other schools of thought.
Turn up at one congregation and there will be emphasis galore on Bible study, journaling and intercessory prayer. Turn up at another and there will be much excitement about silent retreats or meditation. During seasons of Lent or Advent a group may decide to dedicate themselves to fasting or to simplicity or service… (As you may know, a flood of books on “spiritual disciplines” has been released upon the Protestant world in recent decades – most of them written as though these practices are newly discovered in the late 20th century…ugh…)
While each of these practices (from Bible study to silent retreat to fasting) can be beneficial, one size does not fit all, and certainly not in every season of life. We would not tell a confirmed introvert that the path to psychological health is more time in crowded malls. So why would we tell someone with great spiritual energy in nature to spend the bulk of their prayer time hunched over a devotional guide in their kitchen? But we often do. And then we wonder why mere talk of “spiritual discipline” makes most of us groan and/or melt with guilt.
Fortunately it does not have to be this way! For most of church history it has been recognized that people are different. Indeed before anyone had the idea of psychological categories (e.g., the ever popular those Myers-Briggs “tests”), the spiritual traditions of the church understood spiritual “types.” Indeed entire schools of spiritual practice grew up around them. (This is why in the Roman Catholic tradition there are Jesuits, who are different from Benedictines, who are different from Franciscans, all of whom are different than the Augustinians…and so on.)
To make real progress towards proficiency (maturity) you need first to know your spiritual “personality” or classically your ATTRAIT (AH-tray; simply the French word for “attraction”). Once you know how you’re wired, finding the practices that will suit you best will be much, much easier! You might even discover that spending time on your spiritual self makes you…happy! Wha…???
You can download a copy of the Attrait Quadrant Diagram HERE.