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Spirituality is Not a Personality Trait

spirituality-workshopI’ve had some interesting discussions this week about various churches’ perception of “Spirituality, Love & Humility,” My ministry is non-denominational and I travel around a bit so I encounter all kinds of interesting perceptions of these matters.

In the movie Joyful Noise the choir director struggles with her job, imagining that to allow her daughter to fully exercise her skills as a singer would show a lack of humility. The pastor struggles with their choir’s desire to win a national competition by breaking free from 50 year old patterns of church music.

Today people keep saying that it’s not loving to call homosexuality a sin, or to hold the poor accountable for their actions… they’ve had it rough after all.

One friend was told that it was unspiritual to memorize the choir music and sing without the book in front of you… it showed a lack of dependence and humility.

I’ve been told that authoritative teaching based on years of education and experience is “prideful” and that humble preaching is off-the cuff, spontaneous, and lacking clear organization.

One pastor once boasted that he, because he was spiritual and humble, ditched his well-prepared message for something that struck him that morning while sitting on the toilet… which is exactly where his ridiculous ill-conceived message should have gone.

I’ve had church people announce how happy they are that a congregation doesn’t yield to the desires of the world for good music with unspiritual things like drums and catchy music (My many saintly friends in India will be sorry to hear that their primary and historic mode of leading worship is regarded as “unspiritual” and “worldly.”)

To many, it’s prideful to preach well, sing well… to practice, study, perfect, exercise skill, or act responsibly.

So…. Let me start by saying that spirituality, love and humility are not the stuff of ritual or personality or mannerisms.[1]

They are not the stuff of clothing, food, or personal neglect.

They are not expressed through self-depreciation or constant confessions of unworthiness, or a refusal to defend one’s self against attack, a lack of aggression, or a complete muting of emotional outburst.

They are not expressed through a perpetual lack of planning, inefficiency or accountability.

They are not measured by being “dependent” on God through ignorance, unpreparedness, undeveloped skill, lack of confidence, or fumbling performance… nor by constant backpedaling, apology, or sheepish, quiet, or off-the cuff presentation.

They are not measured by being hated, flighty, weird, spontaneous, spooky, ethereal, or incoherent in mysterious pondering.

One is not humble because he or she refuses to exercise the authority given to them in the necessary organizational processes in this world, eschewing titles of respect, and rejecting appropriate social tiering.

Humility is not melancholy, mousy, or demure.

Love is not about having warm and affectionate feelings about someone.

It’s not loving to enable other people’s worst traits or to make them feel comfortable in their most destructive sins.


A spiritual person is one who knows the will of God, and consistently does it, manifests the fruit of such a life and reaps its benefits, willingly paying the price for it. A spiritual person cares about the souls of others, and commits their way into the hands of God, trusting him to guide his or her steps in this world.

A humble person is one who submits their own will to the will of God, trusts Scripture more than their own heart and inclinations.

A loving person acts in the best interest of another, seeking their benefit in one way or another.

Such a one can be skilled, professional, authoritative, loud, outgoing, humorous, and good natured. They can also be quiet, melancholy, mousy and demure. They can be passive aggressive, aggressive aggressive, or non-aggressive. They can be direct or indirect, harsh or soft, demanding or lenient.


Because, spirituality love and humility are about deeper things than outward manifestations of personality and mannerism.


[1] (You may notice that I have this thing about capitalizing Key Nouns in my sentences… get over it; it’s not likely to change any time soon. I learned German several years ago, liked the way they capitalized their nouns, and starting doing it instinctively when I thought a noun was important. I always try to go back and edit this out, but I’m sure I miss a lot of them.)

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