The CHOLERIC loves to bark orders. It comes naturally to this extroverted, take-charge “personality” type. Is this you . . . or someone you know?

There are lots of “personality” tests out there and you may have taken one in school or for work.  The Myers-Briggs model is popular (ESTJ, INFP, and so on) but it and others can get quite complicated and confusing–leaving room for lots of error.  Others rely on numbers, colors, or animal names but the one thing they have in common is that they are is rooted in the clearest and simplest of all: the timeless teaching of the FOUR TEMPERAMENTS. We first received them from Hippocrates around 350 B.C..

Those Greeks were smart..and Hippocrates was not only a medical doctor but an astute observer of human nature.  He watched his patients when they were stripped of pretense and social constructs, without their “makeup” as it were, and saw the true temperaments emerge. Four of them. Each set of two being opposites of each other. The deep, worried one and the light, silly one. The loudexplosive one and the slow, steady one.

All complimentary and each with unique strengths that come easy to the person. And he attributed each to a particular body fluid. (“Choleric” comes from the root word for…ew-w-w . . . yellow bile.)We know today that his guess at their origin was primitive, but he was on to something: each person was born with their temperament and it was as natural to them as their blue eyes or brown hair.  As such, it gives us a clue how to best understand and relate to that person. Why do they do that? How can I get them to understand? Why did God make them that way!?

And speaking of God, each of the four types is a beautiful share in something of his divine nature. Some think this is pop-psychology but they’re wrong. This really works! I’ve studied and lived this since the 1970’s (ask my family and friends!) and have found it the key to:

  • Seeing how were are truly “made in God’s image”
  • Understanding the deepest emotional needs of each four types
  • Knowing how to speak another’s “heart language”
  • Learning how to best parent each of your children
  • Falling more deeply in love with your spouse
  • Maximizing your work team and company production
  • Appreciating and focusing on the gifts that God gave YOU
  • …and so much more

I don’t know if you’re Choleric or not. If you are, you also have one other natural default type because everyone is gifted with one-each of the two sets of opposites. You can learn to develop the strengths of the other two, but they will be more difficult for you and sometimes even drain you.  But more on that later.

If you’re trying to identify yourself or someone else, be careful.  Everyone can be bossy, sad, happy, have fun, or be creative . . . but in different ways, at different times, and for different reasons. Each of the temperaments can “bark orders” given the right circumstance. For instance, the opposite type (the peaceful Phlegmatic ) will wait, watch, gently remind, leave notes, drop hints–not wanting to make waves or cause conflict–but when he is fed up, and feels relatively safe doing so, he finally WILL “bark orders”. And, boy, will he!

In my weekend retreats and parish missions I call this teaching “The Way of the Heart” since it is so core to who we are; and like the four human heart chambers there are two that pull in, two that push out, and all four are necessary for a healthy life!  Learn how to see (and appreciate) the unique strengths of others that are reflections of God himself and I promise it will beautifully and profoundly help you “Put your religion into your relationships”!

So don’t cherry-pick one particular descriptor in attempting to identify one’s temperament . . . carefully and thoughtfully look at the whole picture, the whole person. Or read my book! Or plan a retreat!