Living in God’s Will

WhichPath

The topic of “living in God’s will” has come up  in conversation several times in the last few weeks. It’s made me stop and think about what this means; does it mean that we could be living outside God’s will, should we make a wrong choice?

For most of us, life’s choices look like Path A, Path B and Path C. Which should I chose? What is “God’s will” for me?

This is a scary thing if we believe that only one path is what God really wants us to do and the other paths then, by force, are living – or choosing – outside of His will.

This thinking was so transparent to me that in my twenties and thirties, I stressed out about this quite a lot! It seemed quite natural to me that one way was the way of blessing, one the way, at very best, minus the blessing of God.

Which job should I take? Is this the one God wants for me?

Which person should I marry? My marriage can be blessed only if I chose correctly.

As homeschooling parents, it can be even more amplified when looking at our children’s choices! God’s blessing on us? Yeah. Yeah…that’s great and all, but pul-eeeeease! Just bless my children!

As parents, what we really want, what we’d give up most everything for, is the lives of our children being “in God’s will” and thus being blessed!

And then one day, I had a pretty revolutionary thought, “What if we’re never living outside of the will of our heavenly Father??” What if, instead of Path A, Path B or Path C with only one correct answer, God said to us, “You chose, I’ll work out the blessings, the struggles and the pain.”

Because if we chose “wrong” it doesn’t mean that we’re not blessed! Sometimes the best blessings in life are the pain we experience and the lessons learned from the struggle! I believe it’s Satan’s smoke and mirrors to get us to see only one possibility – and create enormous stress  and emotional pain – instead of a loving God of infinite possibilities and blessings down every turn of the road!

I’m reminded of the lyrics to a beautiful song by Laura Story:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity

We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

And all the while, You hear each spoken need

Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear

We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near

We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love

As if every promise from Your word is not enough

And all the while, You hear each desperate plea

And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

How Do They Learn?

During this series on temperament, we’ve contrasted the basic types in four areas: Introversion vs. Extraversion, Sensation vs. iNtuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving. You’ve probably now got a fairly good grasp on your child’s preferred style. When you put all the letters together, there are 16 specific subtypes, but it’s easier to focus on the four general temperament types. Let’s look at those.

1) If your child has both Sensation and Perceiving, they are defined as an SP, a Sensible Playful child.
2) If your child prefers Sensation and Judging, they are defined as an SJ, a Sensible Judicious child.
3) If your child mixes iNtuition and Feeling, they are defined as an NF, an iNtuitive Feeling child.
4) And, if your child combines iNtuition and Thinking, they are defined as an NT, an iNtuitive Thinking child.

Here

SP’s: Prodigal Son, Rebekah, Adam, Laban. SJ’s: David, Deborah, Mary, Luke. NF’s: Peter, Jonathan, Barnabas, Jeremiah. NT’s: Esther, Paul, Solomon, Noah.

Not only will each of these four categories approach life a little differently, they will also learn with different styles. They may prefer different methods of instruction and varied types of curriculum. Take a look at the four types, and see if your child’s style suddenly looks familiar.

SP: These kids like action and freedom. They are spontaneous, and search for immediate gratification. This sometimes makes them “difficult” students, especially in a very traditional setting, because they’re learning styles aren’t as easy to understand. If this is your child, makes sure he gets a lot of hands-on experience, and include the physical as much as possible in his learning. She may love competition and taking risks, learn more easily from media, and be enthusiastic about performing. If you can find a way to make learning into a game or contest, this child will likely enjoy it. Also, variety and frequent changes will ward off boredom. SPs love function, so manipulating and building objects will be happily received. You may find this child struggles with paper and pencil, but excels with verbal and visual presentation. Think active and fun!

SJ: The SJ child is into belonging, especially in their family, which makes the family dynamics in homeschool all the more important. They are often more responsible and dependable about approaching their schoolwork, and usually enjoy workbooks and structure. A lesson that is presented bit by bit, in sequence, will seem sensible to them. Your little guy is not as apt to “wing it,” and likes to prepare if he has something to present. She does not do as well with independent projects, but might thrive on question-and-answer learning. Being asked for written responses also works well for this child. Asking them to guess or improvise, though, may meet with crisis.
The SJ often enjoys belonging to clubs, so you may want to look for some outside activities — Pathfinders, pen pals, library classes — for them. Of all the types, this one most values report-card-style grades. Think consistent and stable!

NF: These kids are on a search for self. He wants to “be himself” and “be somebody.” She may be more charismatic, dramatic, and idealistic. Therefore, finding a way to give meaning to learning becomes very important. Calm and positive communication is also crucial, and the NF child is the least likely to be able to take any sort of sarcasm or teasing. Personal feedback is needed, and positive comments can help this child to excel. They love interaction, and will probably want you to be very involved in their learning. They will want to talk through it, and they may talk a lot! Sometimes, their spoken vocabulary surpasses their ability on paper, so working with audio tapes can be a creative method for this child. The NF child often likes subjects that focus on people, so studying history via biographies could be helpful. Think cooperation and recognition!

NT: The NT child has a long list of “should-knows.” They think they should know, well, everything. He may ask endless questions, because he needs to understand, predict, and control. This child, more than the others, is likely to “live in its head.” She may have a lot of intellectual curiosity, and go for technology at an early age. NTs are more independent learners, and they especially like to pursue their areas of special interest, sometimes researching one area in such depth that they forget the rest of their work. They may not be as good at writing things down, and tend to hoard information rather than sharing it with their parent/teacher. You may need to help this child more with social and life skills, and with setting priorities. This may mean pushing them away from their books and computers, and out the door to play! NTs are also prone to self-doubt, so look for ways in which they can succeed. Think logic and well-reasoned dialogue!

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about yourselves and your kids via temperament. It’s a huge topic, and we’ve only scratched the surface. But, there are lots of excellent books out there — first and foremost, Please Understand Me, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, upon which this information was based — for anyone who wants to study further.

Enjoy those little SJs, SPs, NFs, and NTs that God has blessed you with. Each is “very good” in His sight!

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them…. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” Genesis 1:27, 31 NLT.

Just Do It vs. Go With The Flow

Today we look at the last of the four paired temperament distinctions: Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P). First, though, rid your mind of any idea that the chosen words in any way mean that J’s are more judgmental or that P’s are more perceptive. It might be more helpful to think of the J’s as generally seeking closure, and the P’s as keeping their options open.

The U.S. population of J’s and P’s is about half and half. And, because this temperament style often has to do with how we handle time, it can be one of the most frustrating to find yourself with a style in opposition to spouse or kids.

Here are some key words or phrases to look for when deciding where your child falls.

Judging:
It’s settled
Do it in order
Ready on time
Neat and orderly
More likely to organize the neighbor kids for an activity
Possibly more self-confident

Perceiving:
What are my choices
Do it my way
Sooner or later
Jumbled mess
More likely to have to be reminded of chores and to get dressed
Possibly tentative in speech

The J — child or adult — tends to enjoy schedules, lists, having things decided and settled on, and doing things in the tried and true manner. The P family member is more comfortable remaining flexible, taking things as they come, keeping their options open, and adapting as they go. The J person often feels that they are doing things the right way, and more responsibly than the P. In contrast, the P feels that the J can make hasty decisions, and does not fully explore all options. You can easily see the possibilities for conflict if half of your family is J, and half of your family is P!

I believe P and J can be changeable as we age and mature. I used to test exactly in the middle and tended more toward J, but now am much more comfortable in the land of P. Micah seemed to be a chip off the old block at first, but has gradually become more J as he ages. That middle ground can be confusing, though. One one hand, he can't remember nearly any request for action, and has to repeatedly ask for direction. In total opposition, he is absolutely driven to get his schoolwork done first thing in the morning, usually before I awake, forcing me (because I really TRY to be organized) to plan out his week's school work in advance. Who knows what the next few years will bring, but we love each other, and so try our best to understand each other. (And yes, I believe you should encourage children to be just as understanding of their parents as we are of them.)

I believe P and J can change somewhat as we age and mature. I used to test exactly in the middle and tended more toward J, but now am much more comfortable in the land of P. Micah seemed to be a chip off the old block at first, but has gradually become more J as he ages. That middle ground can be confusing, though. On one hand, he can’t remember nearly any request for action, and has to repeatedly ask for direction. In total opposition, he is absolutely driven to get his schoolwork done first thing in the morning, usually before I awake, forcing me (because I really do TRY to be organized) to plan out his week’s school work in advance. Who knows what the next few years will bring, but we love each other, and so try our best to understand each other. And yes, I definitely believe you should teach your children about temperaments, and encourage them to be just as understanding of us as we are of them!

Remember, too, that there is a whole spectrum. Some children are easy to guess right away. The child who needs to know the whole schedule for the day ahead of time, who is more frustrated by you calling an end to play earlier than expected, who likes to have a designated place in their room for each toy — that child is likely more Judging. The go-with-the-flow child who can’t recall what you asked him to do, and may seem indifferent to your schedule — that child is likely Perceiving. However, many of us and our children fall into that sort of grey area. We may have a preference for either J or P, but are able to operate in both zones when needed. Families whose members are closer to the middle will probably be able to avoid some types of conflict.

If you find yourself or your child hovering near the middle, another tip I use to figure out the stronger preference is how questions are asked. J’s are more directive; P’s are more suggestive. Do you demand, “What time is it?” or do you ask, “Could you tell me what time it is?” Does your child tell the other kids, “Let’s go play outside!” or does he ask, “Would you like to go play?” Are you or your child one of the first to offer a suggestion? Or, do you wait to see what the others suggest, and then chime in?

You may also see your child’s preference molding and changing a bit as they mature. My own son came out of the womb with such a flexible and easy-going nature that it was nearly a shock when more structured tendencies started to show up. Currently, his blend is a bit of a mystery to me (as indicated in the picture above), so I strive to be flexible in my expectations.

So, what are the implications of J and P on your homeschooling? If your child is particularly strong in one direction or the other, it may mean that you can assist them to flourish with a more structured schedule…or with a flexible window of opportunity in which to finish their work. You might need to bring them more fully into your semester planning, or you might be able to change plans on a whim without an upset. It may also mean that you allow a couple more reminders for the P child, without assuming that they are deliberately ignoring you; and that you show understanding to the J child when they need to finish something “right now” before they can move on.

Looking at well-known Bible characters, we can surmise which were likely J or P from their stories. Spontaneous Peter, the run-on-a-whim prodigal son, opportunistic Rebekah — all likely Perceiving. Noah the planner, do-it-this-way Paul, Deborah the guardian — all likely Judging.

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established,” Proverbs 16:3 ESV.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” Matthew 7:7 ESV.

Material based on “Please Understand Me,” by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates.

Captain Kirk? Or Mr. Spock?

Continuing our series on temperament, we’re now taking a look at the third Myers-Briggs function, Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F). If you are familiar at all with the old TV show Star Trek, you will remember that Captain Kirk, a feeler, was much more emotional, sometimes even impulsive. Mr. Spock, a thinker, tended to step back from a situation and evaluate before acting. One appeared warm and friendly, the other reserved and logical. Other parts of temperament factor into this as well, but thinking versus feeling play a huge role.

In the U.S. thinkers and feelers are divided about half and half. More men test as thinkers (about 60 percent) and more women test as feelers (also about 60 percent), but this is clearly not hard and fast. All it means is that it may be a little more difficult for the feeling boy and thinking girl who fall outside general societal expectations.

Micah is a thinker. One of his best friends, Riley, is a feeler. Because they spend most of the year 2,000 miles apart, they often chat and play online to stay in touch. Listening to them interact is a case study in T versus F. Riley will make a happy suggestion about their game, which has less to do with strategy and more to do with some item (like sheep or flowers or cake) that she loves ... and Micah will respond with something like, "Well, that doesn't make much sense. What you should really be doing is this..." Fortunately, some mom coaching on both ends have helped them learn strategies for dealing with each other, and they remain fast friends.

Micah is a thinker. One of his best friends, Riley, is a feeler. Because they spend most of the year 2,000 miles apart, they often chat and play online to stay in touch. Listening to them interact is a case study in T versus F. Riley will make a happy suggestion about their game, which has less to do with strategy and more to do with something (like sheep or flowers or cake) that she loves — and Micah will respond with a comment like, “Well, that doesn’t make much sense. What you should really be doing is…” Fortunately, some mom coaching on both ends have helped them learn strategies for dealing with each other, and they remain fast friends.

Not sure whether your child is T or F? Think about the last time you asked them to obey when they did not completely understand the situation. Were they more likely to seek to please you? Then you may have a feeler. By contrast, did they need to ask for reasons? Then you might have a thinker. It’s a broad generalization, but works much of the time.

Here are some other things to look for.

Feelers…
– are more likely to read the emotions of their family and friends
– may be more aware when others are showing physical or social comfort/discomfort
– might perform little “services” for which they need to be recognized and affirmed
– may be more likely to become physically ill if there is conflict and insecurity in the home
– may enjoy listening to their parents discuss family and neighborhood events
– are more likely to show the emotions they experience on their faces and with their words

Thinkers…
– sometimes seem unaware of others’ distress, and a bit detached from the emotional climate
– may appear independent of what is going on in the family or neighborhood
– are more likely to ask for objective explanations, and don’t react well to “Because I said so”
– might “shut down” their facial expressions in times of trauma
– sometimes prefer less physical touch
– may not cry as easily

As parents, it’s important to remember that these are just preferred methods for making choices. Thinkers make their choices in an impersonal way, while feelers make theirs in a personal way. It doesn’t mean your feeler is incapable of rational thought. Likewise, it doesn’t mean your thinker doesn’t feel; in fact, thinkers may be hurting as much — or just as happy — as feelers, but it’s hard for parents to tell because they are not as expressive. I’ve never seen this in print, but my opinion — based purely on being a mom and observing other kids — is that most children seem to start out toward the feeling end of the spectrum, and as they mature will either become established in that, or show signs of thinking preference. It’s similar to what we addressed last time, where kids tend to start out in Sensation mode, but some switch to iNtuition.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a whole spectrum between the furthest poles of feeling and thinking. We all, including our kids, fall somewhere on that spectrum, and the closer you are to the middle, the easier it may be to select how to act — personally or impersonally.  Fortunately, the Thinking/Feeling differences don’t seem to be quite as mind-boggling as Introversion/Extraversion and Sensation/iNtuition, so parents can feel or think their way through directing and responding to their child with just some awareness of the differences.

A few differences in homeschooling may appear, such as when one child prefers to study objects or time periods, while another prefers biographical experiences. Helping your child to be well-rounded is important, but allowing them to concentrate a larger block of time on their special interests will promote love of learning.

Who were some notable thinkers and feelers in the Bible? Luke the physician, whose Gospel writings show careful observation, was an example of the thinking preference. A well-known female thinker, Esther, consulted objectively with her uncle and sidestepped feelings to take on her role as queen. One noteworthy feeler is David, the caring shepherd, emotionally impulsive king, and author of heartfelt Psalms. And, another feeler is Mary, the mother of Jesus, who humbly took on the job of nurturing the Savior.

Where would we be without both thinkers and feelers, and without their different approaches for sharing truth?

From Luke, the thinker: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you…so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught,” Luke 1:1-4.

From David, the feeler: “I will be glad and exult in You,” Psalms 9:2.

(Info taken from “Please Understand Me,” by Keirsey and Bates.)

Here and Now? Or Future Possibilities? (Temperament, part 3)

Continuing the exploration of temperament and our kids, today we’re looking at Sensation (S) versus iNtuition (N). This trait, while making a very discernible difference in adults, is sometimes hard to read in children, especially young ones. I’ll give some general examples, but it may be difficult to know exactly which your child is, since little ones tend to appear as S’s for quite a while.

Here are some possible scenarios:

N kids…
-may like the same stories told/read again and again, especially fantasy and highly imaginative ones
S kids…
-may want adventure stories that make sense and are factual

N kids…
-may be able to spend much time listening to or reading stories
S kids…
-may prefer games, activities, and action over stories

N kids…
-may feel like they don’t fit in, especially if they are quite introverted and feeling (we’ll cover Feeling next time) oriented
S kids…
-may seem to know just how to “perform” or give a loving gesture that charms a family visitor

N kids…
-may seem more opinionated and certain of what they know, but sometimes has a hard time explaining why — which can lead to adults accusing them of just guessing
S kids…
-may do very well with what we would think of as typical schoolwork like notebooks, and may also enjoy detailed coloring books

N kids…
-may have more “crushes,” putting another child or adult on a pedestal
S kids…
-may relate very well to the world around them, including people and things

N kids…
-may be highly imaginative, creative, and daydream oriented
S kids…
-may respond to facts and detail, and be full of action

When you read through that list of scenarios, frankly, the N kid sounds a little backward or weird, whereas the S kid sounds more “normal.” If you suspect your child of being an N, though, do not despair. Those same N kids who don’t quite fit in often get to college and think, “Wow! Here are people like me,” and they become the imaginative, future-thinking, idea people in society.

The S kids, as well as S adults, are more often grounded in the realities of today. They can be the movers and shakers who get things done, the ones who are more appreciative of traditions and organizational systems. They tend to be realistic, down-to-earth, practical, sensible.

The above traits are a bit tricky, because even intuitive children tend to be quite concrete when they are young, and most children seem to have more sensation qualities. As they get older, the variations begin to manifest, but you will still see way more S’s in the United States population group. I believe the ratio is three S’s for every one N.

So, what are the implications for family and homeschooling? If you are an S with an S child, or an N with an N child, you probably relate to your child enough to be able to figure out the approach he or she needs. If you are opposites, the differences can be a little bewildering. Even more than extraversion and introversion, sensing and intuiting reflect how our brains operate. However, just becoming aware of these differences can make our children less alien to us. Once you realize there’s nothing “wrong” with your child, they just approach life in a different fashion, then it is easier to understand them, and to have insight (and hopefully discussions with older kids) that could lead to a more effective approach to learning.

Next time we’ll look at Thinking versus Feeling. Stay tuned.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether…,” Psalm 139: 1-4.

 

*Info taken from Please Understand Me, by D. Keirsey and M. Bates.