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“He’s a Peter” they’ll say. “More like Naomi than Ruth” they might suggest. It’s pretty commonplace to compare people we know with Biblical characters.
You’ll also often hear people described by their gifts. “She’s a prayer warrior,” you’re told. “If you need someone to coordinate VBS, talk to him!”
We talk this way about love languages, talents, and character traits. We describe each other by these things in order to distinguish who’s good at (and for) what. The trouble is, we often also judge each other in much the same way.
Few relationships in life draw this out in the open more than marriage. When you’re hitched to somebody (and hopeful that you’re equally yoked!) it’s easy to start drawing conclusions about your spouse’s spiritual life.
Ever been there? Ever chastised your husband for never speaking up at Bible study or offering to pray? Maybe you’re gentler…maybe you just think and pray that he would live his faith more openly and apparently.
Been there. My husband once had an (awkward) conversation with me about why it seemed like I was constantly pressuring him to pray together. As it would turn out, he didn’t like that I’d ask questions about his prayers or suggest that he missed certain people or things that I thought he should be mentioning to God.
Yup. I was critical of even his prayers.
Thankfully, I’m married to a very gracious guy.
He forgave me and we explored a concept I (embarrassing to admit) had not really thought about before: we have different spiritual personalities.
Just like we have different love language and unique preferences, we also have different ways of relating to the Lord and to others in light of the Lord. Those differences are born of our gifts, our character traits, our struggles, and even where we’re currently at with Christ.
It seems we often think that any way but our way is wrong. It’s not always that things have to go according to our plan or to work toward our benefit. Sometimes, we mistake “the way God asked me to do this” for “the way God says to do this.”
There are some issues in which God’s will and way is clear. Not lying, for instance. Valuing prayer, for example. But Christ didn’t say that husbands and wives have to make a list of people to pray for and every night for ten minutes read it out loud in prayer intermixed with “yes, Lord.”
Differences are just that –differences. Your spouse, your best friend, and your children may all have different spiritual personalities. That’s no cause for concern.
Take the time to observe and learn how others relate to the Lord. “People learn from one another, just as iron sharpens iron.” –Proverbs 27:17
Remember in all things to be gracious and discerning as well. There may be a spiritual habit you need to challenge a loved one on someday, but your “only one way to do this” attitude may be that very habit!