Sunday, March 07, 2010

A Deep Review of Your Spiritual Personality by Marita Littauer

A Deep Review of Your Spiritual Personality by Marita Littauer

by Lawrence J. Clark, Ph.D.

This month I will continue my series of “deep reviews” of books on personality and temperament theory by discussing not only what each book contains, but my personal reaction to the principles that it covers and the examples it uses to illustrate the main points. Your Spiritual Personality, by Marita Littauer, was the final book I read for my Certified Personality Trainer certificate examination, and I’m glad I saved it for last. All of the other books touched on this subject briefly, so it was nice to read a whole book devoted entirely to using my knowledge of the personalities to have a better and stronger relationship with Christ.

The story of Amy in the first chapter brought back some memories. When I first asked Jesus into my heart, in the living room of a couple to whom I was trying to sell a vacuum cleaner, I lived in a small town in Maine. None of my friends went to church, and although I had attended Catholic churches as a child, I didn’t feel led to go back to that particular denomination. For the next two years, I wandered around the country, living and working in six states before settling down at a small Baptist college in Mississippi. Most of the jobs I held were in the restaurant and hotel business, so since I usually worked weekends, I wasn’t able to attend church regularly.

Along the way, I had gone to a few Bible studies with students at the University of Tennessee, attended a couple of Methodist services in southern Florida (where I was usually the only person under sixty-five), and made a few visits to a 70s “Jesus Movement” style church in an old movie theater in San Diego. When I finally got to Mississippi, I started attending a small, rural Baptist church where my friend’s sister was married to the music minister. He had a heart for youth, so he recruited several students from my college to form a contemporary Christian praise band.

This was long before praise bands became acceptable in Baptist circles, at least in rural southern Mississippi. As the guitar player, I felt as if I had finally found a place I could call home and a way to serve the Lord with my gifts and talents. Unfortunately, after our first appearance in a Sunday morning service, the music minister called a meeting and informed us that our group was being disbanded; one of the wealthier members of the congregation had threatened to leave if they ever heard electric guitars or drums again. My way of worshipping and serving the Lord was deemed unacceptable, and it left a bad taste in my mouth for a long time afterward. I eventually left that church and found another that allowed more “modern” music and was open to more expressive worship styles, but I missed the solid Biblical teaching I had received at the Baptist church.

Since that time I have lived in several more states and cities, and have often had to compromise my desire for more open worship with my need for “meaty” sermons. I now attend a “Mega Church” that has great music, solid and interesting teaching, and a variety of opportunities for worship and service. Ironically, I am not very involved in the music ministry, since my speaking and performance schedule often takes me out of town on the weekends, but that is okay for now. I could relate to the example Marita gives of her husband; like him, I have found that, at least in this phase of my life, I appreciate the anonymous quality of a church where I can attend when I am able, but am not made to feel guilty if I happen to miss one or two Sundays in a row.

Another thing that I appreciated about this book was Marita’s openness about her own spiritual practices, and how they are affected by her in-born temperament. Although I have read dozens of Christian books over the years, I must confess that I have started many more than I have finished, especially the ones that included homework and exercises. Although I get a lot out of doing the exercises and always begin with the intent of finishing them, I am constantly on the go; my Sanguine side is easily distracted, and my Choleric side is impatient and just wants to get the information and run with it, so I tend to skip the exercises and move on to the next chapter, or even the next book.

Learning that it is ok to have a different approach to my walk with Christ, and that there are others like me, was another valuable lesson I learned from this book. I have always admired people who could study the Bible in the original Greek and Hebrew, those who could quote scripture left and right from memory, and those who could wake up each morning at 5:00 a.m. for their morning devotions. In addition to admiring them, though, I have also felt guilty for not being able to “do” Christianity like that, and have often felt like a second-class Christian in the presence of such spiritual giants. I now understand that my way of studying and praying is just that—my way, and since God created me with my blend of Choleric and Sanguine personality types, He understands that and speaks to me through Christian books, praise music, teaching tapes, Christian radio and television programs, and the occasional retreat or seminar. And although I don’t have a set prayer time, I commune with Him many times throughout the day while driving, cooking, walking or swimming, or simply sitting outside and enjoying nature.

Although I am Sanguine/Choleric, my Choleric personality definitely dominates my spiritual life. Unlike many Sanguines, I do not see God as my “good buddy” or as an affectionate father figure. Maybe this is because I did not experience a particularly affectionate father figure as a child. I identify more with Marita’s description of the Choleric view of God--as one with whom to struggle for control. I know that God created the universe. I know that God is sovereign and ultimately in control. I know all the scriptures about God wanting the best for His children and working all things out for His purposes. Yet I laughed out loud when I read the poem about the child who brought his toys to God to get them fixed, but never let go of the toys so God could actually take them and fix them. I laughed because I could identify so strongly with that simple illustration. I often give lip-service to God and pretend to hand situations and problems over to Him, but more often than not I get impatient and end up doing things my way without waiting for an answer. Thankfully, He often uses me in spite of myself, and for that I am grateful and often humbled. This attitude spills over into my creative endeavors, such as music, writing, etc. I have to constantly stop and remind myself to consider when I am doing something for God’s glory or my own. This is a constant struggle, but one that helps keep me grounded.

Another thing that I found interesting in this book was the chapter on the personality of Jesus, in which Marita explained that during his time on earth Jesus exhibited the best traits of all four temperaments. I had never thought of this before, but the concept makes sense, since God created people with each of the temperaments, then came to earth to show us how to live. If he would have come and only lived as a Choleric or a Melancholy, that wouldn’t have been fair to the Phlegmatics or the Sanguines, as it would have been nearly impossible for them to follow in His footsteps. In His ultimate wisdom, though, the Master Teacher lived His life in a way that each of us could imitate. I also like the idea that as we grow in our Christian faith and walk and become more like Him, we will start to manifest the strengths of each of the personality types.

In the chapter on spiritual gifts, I appreciated the fact that Marita steered clear of some of the more controversial gifts. Although I believe there is a place for teaching on those subjects, my wife, Kristen, and I approach our ministry the same way, and have thereby been able to minister to the body of Christ in a variety of denominations. At any rate, it was no surprise to me that, given my Choleric/Sanguine personality, my gifts lie mostly in the “Public Proclaimers” square.

It was fitting that the final chapter was titled, “Encouragement and Freedom.” Those are the two things I have gained most from this book:

1) the encouragement to know that I am not a second-class Christian, and that my methods and styles of study, prayer, and worship are perfectly fine given my God-given temperament, and

2) the freedom to relate to God and to others in the body of Christ as He created me to do, not as others do, no matter how spiritual or mature in their faith they may seem on the outside.

This is my spiritual journey and my relationship with the God who created me and loves me unconditionally. That is the truth, and that truth has and will continue to set me free.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A “Deep Review” of Marita Littauer's Wired That Way

A “Deep Review” of Marita Littauer's Wired That Way Lawrence J. Clark, Ph.D.

This month I will continue my series of “deep reviews” of books on personality and temperament theory by discussing not only what each book contains, but my personal reaction to the principles that it covers and the examples it uses to illustrate the main points. I liked Wired That Way immediately because it began with the New Testament scripture, Romans 12:18: “If it is at all possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone” (VERSION). This verse was important for me to read, because although I (usually) try live my life this way, I have discovered through numerous experiences that with some people it is just not possible. It’s good to know that God understands this!

It then gave a brief background of the Greek origins of the four temperaments as identified by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates in about 400 B.C. and later expanded upon by another physician and philosopher, Claudius Galen, in the second century A.D. Following was a comparison of other popular systems designed to help understand the differences in human beings’ personalities (Leading From Your Strengths, DISC, Merrill-Reid, etc.), then a brief introduction to the four temperaments, or personality types, along with an identifying adjective to help make the terms easier to remember: (Popular) Sanguine, (Powerful) Choleric, (Perfect) Melancholy, and (Peaceful) Phlegmatic.

The next chapter discussed visual cues for identifying different personality types. For example, a loud, cheerful individual who enjoys wearing fashionable and/or flashy clothing would most likely be a Popular Sanguine, while a Peaceful Phlegmatic would be more apt to dress for comfort and simplicity rather than the desire to be stylish or to attract attention.

The book then went on to outline the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type. I liked this section because it helped me identify some of my strengths, which was encouraging, but at the same time helped me confront some of my weaknesses and learn which ones I need to work on. For example, one of the strengths of the Powerful Choleric is the ability and drive necessary to take charge of virtually any project and get it done. On the other hand, one of the weaknesses of the Popular Sanguine is the need for approval and the desire to be liked. Conflicts can, and have, arisen in my life when I volunteered to take charge of a project (Choleric strength) because of my need to be liked and admired (Sanguine trait—could be a strength or weakness, depending on the situation) but then got distracted and forgot or neglected to follow through with the original project (definitely a weakness of the Popular Sanguine temperament).

The section on personality blending and masking was also useful in that it helped me understand how I had learned to mask Melancholy traits in reaction to emotional and physical stress I experienced as a child and during my first marriage. Since my dad and my ex-wife were both Perfect Melancholies, I was constantly trying to live up to their often impossible standards, then beating myself up (or getting beat up, whether emotionally or physically) when I inevitably failed to do so.

The chapters on emotional needs and marriage helped me understand why my first marriage failed, but also gave me encouragement because my current wife and I already understand and practice meeting each other’s emotional needs; because of this practice our marriage works much better. For example, Kristen understands my Choleric need for appreciation of my hard work, and also my Sanguine need for attention and approval. As opposed to my first wife, for whom I could seemingly never do enough to “earn” her praise, and who frequently withheld approval and attention as a weapon against me, Kristen frequently compliments me for some task that I have performed or a meal I have cooked (yes, I am the main cook in our family—I’ll explain that in a future article!). And she often does this in front of friends or family members, which, frankly, can be kind of embarrassing for someone like me who is not used to being complimented, but which is good for me to hear, as it shows that she is not only aware of my emotional needs, but is more than willingly to meet them rather than use them against me.

The parenting section was useful in helping me understand my own strengths and weaknesses as a parent, and how they are determined by my personality type. It also helped me to better understand my family of origin and the reasons my parents made certain decisions regarding my brothers and me. It especially helped me to understand why my dad and I were constantly at odds, since as a Perfect Melancholy he had great difficulty dealing with the Popular Sanguine side of my personality, and I had trouble adhering to his many rules and often unrealistic expectations of perfectionism. Also, my Powerful Choleric side constantly wanted to do things MY way, rather than the way that my parents, teachers, and other authority figures wanted me to do them.

The chapters on communication and the workplace helped me to understand how I interact with friends and co-workers. This understanding has helped me to become more tolerant of their decisions and actions, and hopefully helped me to become a better friend and co-worker, as I have identified certain personality traits in my past and present co-workers and supervisors that have influenced the way they did things or expected them to be done, and my reactions to their decisions and expectations. I have also identified weaknesses in both the Choleric and Sanguine parts of my personality, and I have made plans to begin overcoming those weaknesses. This section was also helpful in helping me see that many of the things I have done or am doing right fit perfectly with the Choleric and Sanguine strengths, so that was very encouraging for me.

The spiritual life section was also extremely helpful in that it helped me understand that my way of “doing” my faith is not necessarily wrong or right, but is unique and is a result of my God-given, inborn blend of temperaments. I have attended a number of churches in my life, both as a child, and after a hiatus of several years, as an adult. It has always been difficult for me, though, to find a church that meets all of my needs or in which I feel my spiritual gifts and talents can be used to their full potential. This has led me to seek spiritual guidance, direction, and refreshment from a variety of other sources, including Christian books, audio and video recordings, radio and television programs, websites, and conferences and seminars. It has also led me to volunteer with, work for, and even create parachurch ministries in speaking, writing, acting, and performing. Since much of my performances and speaking engagements take place during weekend retreats or in other churches on Sunday mornings, my attendance at my home church is often irregular. This section of the book helped me to understand that even though some people might have a schedule that allows them to sit in the same pew during the same service at the same church each week, but my schedule is not conducive to such a “normal” church life, God still loves me even if I don’t sing in the choir every Sunday.

Finally, another feature that I like about Wired That Way is there is not only a companion workbook, but also an excellent DVD video series in which the authors expand upon many of the principles outlined in the book. The video series reinforced what I had already read in the text, and I was able to watch and listen while cooking, shaving, etc. Researchers in learning theory have found that most people have a “best” way of learning, some through reading text or seeing images such as graphs and charts (visual learners), some through hearing (auditory learners), and others through doing [tactile/kinesthetic learners). The combination of the printed words in the book, the sights and sounds of the video, and the opportunity for practical application and self reflection through the workbook helps to make the concepts in Wired That Way accessible to virtually anyone. As a mostly Choleric/part Sanguine personality blend, I particularly appreciated the “Putting it into Practice” section at the end of each chapter of the workbook. My Choleric friends will surely agree when I ask, “what use is all this knowledge if I can’t put it into practice—and immediately?”

Wired That Way can be found at or If you are interested in receiving hand-on training in personality theory, consider attending one of the excellent CLASS Personality Training seminars; details can be found at:

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An In-depth Look at Florence Littauer’s book--Personality Plus

Greetings, Friends!

This month I will begin a series of articles about books that have influenced my thinking about personality/temperament theory. I have mentioned some of these books in passing in previous articles and workshops, but I thought it would be a good idea to give an in-depth review of each book, and explain how each has given me a different view of my own God-given personality. I hope that these reviews prove helpful to you, and that they will inspire you to discover how learning about your own personality and those of your friends, co-workers, and loved ones can help you improve your knowledge of yourself, your relationships with others, and most importantly, your relationship with God.

Personality Plus was the first book I had ever read that was devoted entirely to the study of the four temperaments. I had been introduced to the topic when I attended a CLASSeminar for Christian Leaders, Authors, and Speakers in Houston.

Since I had just attended the CLASSeminar before reading Personality Plus, and had taken the personality profile during the seminar, chapters one and two were mostly review. When I first filled out the profile, though, I came out being a combination of “Perfect” Melancholy and “Popular” Sanguine. This combination of temperaments, according to the seminar leaders and the book, was highly unlikely, and was probably a result of something called “masking.” (I will explain this in a future article.) With the help of a good friend who was also attending the seminar (and who happens to be a licensed therapist) I retook the profile after carefully reading the definitions and thinking back to my personality as a child. This time I came out Choleric/Sanguine, which as you will see below, makes much more sense. While reading chapter three of Personality Plus, I recognized that I do have many of the traits of a Popular Sanguine, but that temperament didn’t quite describe me totally (if you are lost already, please see my previous article, “Introduction to the Personality Corner,” at

In chapter four, which dealt with the Perfect Melancholy personality type, I saw a few traits that I had picked up or tried to model at various points in my life, but realized that most of these were not natural to my personality, but were instead learned behavior. This is an important distinction. I did see, though, that my dad definitely fit in this category, as did my ex-wife.

It was while reading chapter six, which covered the Powerful Choleric, that I really saw myself, or I should say I saw many traits that I was proud of, such as being determined, independent, willing to step in and take charge of almost any situation, and able to persevere against many obstacles that life has thrown in my path. I also saw, though, traits that others have noticed in me that I had been in denial about. Yes, I usually want things my way. Yes, my willingness to lead and take charge can sometimes make me seem bossy and cause me to become frustrated when things are not being done “properly” (translation “properly” = MY way). I do realize that I possess these weaknesses, and have worked hard to overcome them, but they still slip out on occasion.

The next chapter, which described the Peaceful Phlegmatic personality, was not as interesting to me, because I don’t identify with many of those traits. I will say that I avoid conflict and often act as a peacemaker, but that is probably more of a learned behavior, from watching adults fight when I was a child, than an in-born trait. I often tell myself that I wish I had a peaceful life, and enjoying spending time at our family retreat in the mountains, but when I say “peace,” I don’t mean doing nothing and staring at the trees or the sky or my navel. Instead, I mean free to do what I want without distractions. When I am at our retreat, there are no papers to grade, no freeways to get stuck on, and no committee meetings to attend. I do, however, bring boxes full of books to read, several journals and spiral notebooks to write in, guitars and music books to practice with, and a laptop computer to write stories and articles and outlines for class lectures and motivational/inspirational speeches and programs. This is my “Powerful Choleric” way of relaxing on my vacation—doing all the things I don’t have time to do when I am at home!

The next four chapters discussed a variety of ways to help people of each personality type to overcome the weaknesses associated with that temperament. I liked the way each chapter was set up with a problem/solutions structure. I was of course most interested in the “organizing the Sanguine” and “toning down the Choleric” chapters, and took a lot of the suggestions to heart. In fact, two of the weaknesses I pledged to work on in the Commitment Letter I signed at the end of the CLASSeminar were listed in the Sanguine chapter: lack of organization and a tendency to procrastinate.

Part 4 of this book discussed the different blends of personalities. This was important for me, because I found out how the traits associated with my blend of Sanguine and Choleric temperaments have made me who I am and have also contributed to many actions and choices, both positive and negative, that I have taken in my life. Some of these have been good, such as the Choleric tendency to be independent and strong willed, which helped me to go to college and eventually earn a Ph.D., even under extremely adverse circumstances. Some of them, though, such as my Sanguine need for acceptance and approval, caused me to make unwise choices of friends and activities as a teenager.

The personal plan to assess my strengths and evaluate my weaknesses found in chapter 13 was also helpful, and I will continue this process for a long time to come. The chapter on how opposites attract each other was helpful in understanding why I chose my first wife (and why she chose me) and also why my lack of understanding of the temperaments caused me to not understand or meet her needs and vice-versa. It also helped me to see that my current (and hopefully last!) marriage is strong because we understand and build upon each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and do our best to understand and meet each other’s emotional needs. My wife and I also have two “Ch” words in common: Choleric and, most importantly, Christ.

Chapters 15 and 16 helped me to understand my friends and the people I work with, and has especially helped me be more compassionate and more accepting of the different personalities of my co-workers. It has also helped me to have a sense of humor when thinking of some of their actions and statements, and I have begun collecting examples for some personality workshops I will be doing at our school next semester. Hopefully I can help the faculty and staff in my department, as well as employees at other companies and schools where I will be presenting workshops, to get along better after they gain a basic understanding of the personalities.

The final chapter, “Personality Plus Power Produces Positive People,” did a good job of tying everything together. As was the case with the several other Florence and Marita Littauer books I have read, it was very encouraging and uplifting. Over the years, I have read dozens of “self-help” and motivational books by Stephen Covey, Anthony Robbins, Melody Beatty, Zig Zigler, and others, but what I appreciate about the “Littauer Ladies” (they probably wouldn’t like that term, but oh, well . . .) is that they unapologetically point everything back to scripture and to Jesus’ saving and transforming power. This is the “X” factor that will truly change lives, not just in this world, but for eternity.

NOTE: If you live in or are able to travel to Texas, Florence Littauer will be presenting a one-day seminar, “Personality Plus for Couples,” in Buda, Texas on January 30, 2010. Please see for details.

If you would like to purchase your own copy of Personality Plus, it is available at the very reasonable cost of $13.00 from CLASServices, . It can also be found at and many other booksellers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Greetings from New Mexico!

Greetings, Friends!

I am writing to you from 7,600 feet at our family's mountain retreat in New Mexico. I've had a wonderful week so far working on a new book and writing some new songs.

Well, after 3 years on, I finally sat down and tried to figure it out--and just in time, since I have a brand new album to tell you about! I've posted 6 songs from the album, which we have titled "Amazing!" You can check them out here:

I hope you enjoy listening to them--this was truly a labor of love. Chris Gage at MoonHouse Studio in Austin did a great job producing and engineering the CD, and Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Mastering did an even better job an the final production than he did with my last CD, New Horizon. Christine Albert contributed with some gorgeous background vocals on "A Beautiful Place," and Bruce Logan and David Carrol did a great job on percussion and acoustic bass. And of course you'll recognize my lovely wife Kristen's perfect harmonies on many of the other tunes!

With four songs written by Kristen, three carefully chosen covers of songs by Van Morrison, Wayne Watson, and Tony Conti, and some new arrangements of some classic gospel and slave era songs--oh yeah, and a couple of my own--this project has received some great reviews so far.

Lucky Boyd of says:

You can expect heartfelt and sincere music from Lawrence J. Clark every time. Your expectations are again met. This time, LJ rises to the occasion with a spiritual tribute.

Clark has always been able to please with his folk and funny collections, but this disc embarks on a more serious journey for this Houston performer. Passion is emblazoned across each cut as Clark pours himself humbly into each performance. You’ll hear that old fave "Amazing Grace" and appreciate it like never before. Clark approaches each song with purity and grace with just enough playfulness to invoke a smile.

The arrangements are simple and true to the craft, as Clark truly believes each note and expressly performs each lyric. If you are already a spiritual person, this disc will help you in your life’s affirmations through music. If not, what a great place to start.

Lawrence J. Clark defines spiritual folk and wears it deservingly like a soft purple robe. Clark’s servant spirit shines through on this twelve-cut emblem of praise.

CdBaby wrote:

Amazing harmonies compliment the South Austin sound on a heartfelt mix of traditional and contemporary gospel favorites and originals

By the way, you can get the full CD at either of the above online stores:

You can also download individual songs or the whole album at,, and many other online retailers.

Many thanks to all who contributed to this project--you know who you are!

That's about all I have to say, so here are the liner notes to tell you the rest:

“Sometimes my life is a little overwhelming, and the thought of tomorrow is just plain scary.” I’m sure many of us have felt this way at some point or other; I certainly have. Life can be full of challenges, disappointments, illnesses and physical injuries, and broken relationships. On the other hand, “sometimes a rough and rocky road can take you to a beautiful place.” The first quotation is from the song “Just for Today,” written by my lovely wife Kristen, and when she first played me the song, I knew that it perfectly expressed not only my worst fears, but also hope for the future. The chorus states: “that’s when I remember to take it one day at a time, to open my eyes and count my every blessing/I will open my mind and listen for your plan for me/I will lean on your strength and the grace by which you’ve blessed me/I will ask you to walk with me and know when to ask to be carried.” As a typical head-strong male with a lot of Irish blood, this was a difficult concept for me to accept. What? Accept someone else’s help? Never--I can do it on my own! But the rugged individualist of American literary lore was, as I discovered, a myth, and my world came crashing down around me through several events such as divorce, a head-on collision, the untimely death of a close friend and partner, and the slow downward spiral of depression. Thankfully, though, as the second quotation (from “A Beautiful Place” by Wayne Watson) sums up, “sometimes a rough and rocky road can take you to a beautiful place.” It is said that we often have to “hit bottom” before beginning the slow climb back to the top. If you’ve ever been there, you understand what I mean. Today, through the grace of our “amazing” God, the love of a beautiful and talented woman, the gift of three incredible children, and the often undeserved but gratefully accepted support of friends and family, I experience a life of joy and contentment that I never could have imagined. Each song on this CD has been carefully written or chosen, and has a special place in my life; I pray that the music and the words will uplift, entertain, comfort, and encourage you in your own spiritual journey.

Peace and Blessings to all!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I think I'm turning Blogenese!

This is a test blog. It doesn't say much. I wrote my first blog in may 2006; it's now Feb. 2009, so I guess it's time for blog #2.

In the meantime, was taken over by, which first me to sign up for a Google email account in order to use this site, so I assume is also owned by Google. I also assume that the terms of release that I signed (and of course didn't read) mentions that I've now sold my soul and signed over all my earthly possessions to Google, Inc.

All Hail the Might Google!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My very first blog

Greetings, and welcome to my VERY FIRST BLOG EVER!!!!

This is a moment that I will treasure always, and I sincerely hope you share in my excitement.

First of all, I'd like to thank Mr. Terry Bohannon for turning me on to this site and giving me the idea to create a blog in the first place. Terry, you may have created a monster . . .

So, I will make this first post short, but please check back often, as I will be posting lots of interesting stuff soon. In the meantime, please check out my website at

Have a great day!