Discover Your Strengths, Charisms, and Temperament

Over the years I’ve taken lots of “inventories”–both natural and supernatural–and I want to share the ones that I’ve found to be the most helpful.

1. Temperament

This is the God-given portion of your personality, the fundamental way that you are disposed to respond to situations and people. There are four classic ones, and most people are a combination of two: sanguine–the extraverted people-person; choleric–the goal-oriented leader; melancholic–the principled thinker; and phlegmatic–the intraverted, peace-making friend.

I’m primarily melancholic, with some choleric thrown in for good measure. Learning your temperament, and your spouse’s, will help you understand each other better and know how to support your spouse in his or her needs. For instance, I need time by myself (introvert time) to “go into my cave” and think, work, and rejuvenate. My wife as a sanguine needs social engagements to recharge.

The Temperament God Gave You is the best book I’ve found on this subject. It is faithfully Catholic and includes a survey to discover your temperament.

2. Charisms

At your baptism, God gave you charisms (or gifts) to build up the Kingdom. These include things like teaching, evangelism, administration, writing, encouragement, and so on. When you do work in line with your charisms, you are energized and also the most effective.

The Catherine of Siena Institute has a charisms inventory you can take to learn your main charisms. Mine are writing, evangelism, and teaching.

3. Strengths

This is a secular, business-oriented inventory to find out your strengths. The idea is that you should work on maximizing your strengths (kind of like focusing on your charisms) rather than trying to get better at your weaknesses.

These have been the least helpful to me of the three categories here, but I still find them interesting. Mine are input–I value and gather input from lots of people to help me; relator–I like to relate with people, connectedness–I see us all connected together (kind of obvious to Christians), and belief, which is their nod toward religious faith.

None of these is the secret key to unlocking your potential–as if that were possible apart from grace and hard work–but they can shed illumination on how God made you and how you can best use the talents and gifts he has given you.

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10 thoughts on “Discover Your Strengths, Charisms, and Temperament”

  1. I am a huge fan of all three! I attended a workshop years ago on the charisms put on by the Catherine of Siena Institute. That was very helpful/insightful because your charisms can be quite different than your natural personality. 🙂 Also the temperaments (and that particular series) have been hugely helpful to my marriage and figuring out why our loved ones act the way they do. 🙂 Have also found the Myers-Briggs extremely helpful but I took it with a trained counselor who gave me all the material that goes with it – not the shorter online version out there.

  2. Hi Devin:

    Thanks for the good word about the Called & Gifted discernment process. I wrote the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory and the Called & Gifted discernment process and just have to point out that taking an inventory is NOT discernment. It’s just a quick and dirty way to sort through your life experience to this point and identity places where there is some evidence of a charism. But charisms are real – ways God really works through us for others – and they leave real-world “footprints” which can be recognized. Through the C & G, we are teaching people how to discern the signs of God’s call and purpose for their life. So we strongly discourage people from just taking the inventory by itself. If you are going to take the inventory, either do so in the context of one of our many live workshops or through listening to the CD recording of a live workshop. That’s will give you the background to understand what your inventory scores do and do not mean, exciting characteristics of 24 of the most common charisms and especially how to actually go through a successful discernment process.

    Blessed be God in all his gifts!


    1. Sherry, thanks for coming over and providing more information!

      My wife and I took the inventory, a CD set that we purchased from the Institute. I recall you and a priest were giving the talks and explanations. But friends of mine have gone to the workshops. Everyone I have talked to about it has benefited from it, so thanks for creating this program!

  3. Sarah, thanks for sharing your experience with these inventories!

    I took the Catherine of Siena Institute one with my wife–we ordered the CD set and went through the materials, but I bet being at a seminar would have been better. Still, we were surprised to learn that we shared two or three charisms as our top four.

  4. Think the Myers Brigg is best for understanding the key factors in your own preference and decision process and that of others and how folks see and interpret the world differently. I became a believer when my workplace held a retreat weekend to help fix problems between two teams (one in-house and one out of house). We all took the inventories and then they had exercises demonstrating how very differently people of different types approached situations. I ended up being picked for one of the demonstrations as I scored among the highest in the group on intuition. I was paired with someone who scored highest in sensing. We were both asked to describe the contents of a box. I looked at the contents looking for a reason/purpose as to why that particular group of things were in the box. The other person immediately started enumerating the contents with no interest in why they were were like that. Demonstrations were held with all the groups. It did help with some relationships. I was surprised to find out that a person whose intelligence I admired actually made decisions based on feelings more than thinking. No wonder I would get so frustrated when he would not change his mind based on what to me was obvious logic! Like all of these things, it’s just a tool but it does help you to understand how you see and interact with the world and how others see things differently. (PS the two teams did come together and over time we actually went from being at each other’s throats to establishing a lot of friendships and good working relationships.)

  5. Therese – wow, what a Myers-Briggs success story! I had to chuckle at the intuition/sensing “disconnect.” I am married to an “S” and I am a strong “I” and wow, sometimes… yes, the box example was a good one. 🙂 And I too was surprised when I realized one of the “sharpest” individuals I know was more of a feeler. That said, I am definitely a “feeler”. I think sometimes Feelers hyper-develop their analytical skills in an attempt to counterbalance the “F-factor” to the point where we don’t realize we’re “F’s”.

  6. In response to Therese …

    I think you’re definitely right in Meyers-Briggs having its own place in a world of tools and personality testing. If you have not taken the Spiritual Gifts Inventory, or attended a Called & Gifted Workshop, I would highly encourage you to do so … it also stands alone in a category separate from Meyers-Briggs and the realm of psychological testing.

    What’s most profound about the Spiritual Inventory (from my experience), is that it assists one in being reflective of your own life, and the areas in which you thrive. It’s not one to tell you necessarily about personality traits, but has more to do with action, identifying what areas of your life, your strengths, talents, and God given gifts you’ve been given. I haven’t taken the Meyers-Briggs repeatedly over time, however it is of note that as you continue discernment towards your spiritual gifts, the inventory reflects these changes in your life.

    It’s also of great benefit to note that the Called & Gifted workshop is based not upon a rigid identification of “your personality”, but more upon how God is moving in your life, and assists one in pursuing specific areas of discernment towards finding a greater fulfillment in life, using that which you’ve been given.

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