Temperament Corner

A Pearl of Great Value – Phlegmatic

Dr. Phyllis J. Arno
Dr. Phyllis J. Arno

Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV) tells us: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

God sees each of us as a pearl of great value.  He paid dearly for us with His Son, Jesus! We are more valuable and precious to Him than we can ever imagine!

As counselors, people come to you hurting and broken; they tend to feel that they have no value, that they are invisible, hidden, overlooked, and that nobody cares.

Can you, as a counselor, see them as a pearl of great value, as God does?

Question: “Why is a pearl so valuable?”

The answer is: “In order to have a pearl of great value, the pearl must go through a tremendous amount of irritation; and during the process, it becomes refined and beautiful.”

Some pearls have more irritations than others, just as some people have more irritations than others.

The people that come to you are going through irritations—emotionally, physically and/or spiritually.

Many times when your counselees are going through their hurts, pains, and suffering, they tend to feel that there is no hope.

You, as a temperament counselor, have a calling on your life—to help God’s hurting people.

You are there to give them HOPE – Jesus!

God wants you to see each person that comes to you as a “pearl of great value.”

With the APS profile, God has given us insight into how He created us with our strengths, weaknesses, and needs—an inside look at His pearls of great value.

Since you too have gone through a refining process with your hurts and suffering and pain, you can use what you have gone through to help and encourage your counselees.

We are going to look at the Phlegmatic in Inclusion to see what may be irritating them and causing them stress in the Inclusion area:

1.  Demands made upon them by people at their workplace, school or home:

Phlegmatics in Inclusion can handle a moderate amount of interaction with people.  In the workplace or school, they will tend to respond when spoken to, but will not usually initiate.  This is because they are task-oriented.  By the time they get home from work or school, their energy is usually depleted.

Physically, they may come home from work or school drained of their energy, and just want to relax and watch television or sit at the computer; however,  they may then start to snack on foods that can cause them to become overweight.  If they continue eating the snack foods that are not healthy for them, they may develop heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

Emotionally, constantly interacting with people can cause them to become overwhelmed, angry and stressed. When this happens, they will tend to retaliate by using their defense mechanism–their dry humor. This humor, at times, can be cutting or hurtful to others, depending on the amount of anger and stress that they are experiencing.

Spiritually, if forced to interact with people for long periods of time, they may become so exhausted and stressed that they don’t get involved in church activities or even spend time with the Lord.

Therefore, they need to learn:

  1. To stay involved with their relationships and learn to maintain balance between being alone and socializing.
  2. To take care of their physical body by eating properly and exercising. Once they start eating properly and exercising, they will find that they have more energy and, in turn, will feel less exhausted.
  3. That during times of physical and emotional stress they need to take time to praise God by song or worship, read the Holy Scriptures and attend church.

See Isaiah 26:3:  “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

2.   Inability to work at their own pace:

Phlegmatics in Inclusion, because of their low energy, are unable to work at a fast pace.   If pushed beyond their endurance, they will tend to use their dry humor, sometimes in a hurtful manner, as a defense mechanism to keep people from pushing them to work at a faster pace.

Physically, they will become exhausted, drained and stressed because they are being pushed to work beyond their endurance.  This can cause them to react to their stress by overeating and becoming non-involved with their friends and family.  This, in turn, can result in their having heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, and problems with their family, etc.

Emotionally, the inability to work at their own pace can cause them to become agitated and stressed.  They may also tend to shut down and become more withdrawn from family and friends. They will also tend to use their dry humor to keep family and friends “off their back.”

Spiritually, if forced to interact with people for long periods of time, they may become so exhausted and stressed that they may pull away from attending church because it would drain them even more. They may tend to put God on “hold.”

Therefore, they need to learn:

  1. To try to seek employment where they can set their own pace in order to keep from being totally exhausted and stressed at the end of the day.
  2. That if they are not able to secure employment where they can set their own pace, they need to take breaks at work during the morning, at lunchtime, and in the afternoon.  Exercising during their breaks would refresh them and help to alleviate some of their stress.
  3. To daily maintain their relationship with the Lord by taking time to have morning devotions before they leave for work or listen to the Holy Scriptures or Christian music on the way to work.  

See Philippians 4:13:  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

3.   Striving for perfection:

Phlegmatics in Inclusion tend to strive for perfection.  They are also task-oriented and slow-paced.  They can do tedious tasks with precision and accuracy; therefore, they tend to expect perfection not only from themselves but from those around them.

Physically, if those around them do not live up to their expectations of perfection, Phlegmatics will tend to become stressed and critical.  They express this criticism by using their dry humor that can be very hurtful at times.  This can cause tension between them and those that are not living up to their need for perfection. Because the Phlegmatic in Inclusion is also a peacemaker and seeks peace,  this tension can cause them physical stress in the form of ulcers, headaches, overeating, etc.

Emotionally, when people do not live up to their expectations of perfection, Phlegmatics can become stressed.   They may tend to shut down and withdraw from the people that are stressing them, as well as their family and friends.  In other words, they may pull away from everyone. They may do this by sleeping a great deal, watching television and/or sitting at their computer.

Spiritually, because they strive for perfection and they cannot attain this perfection, they may tend to be stressed and want to give up on everyone, including God. Their thoughts could be something like: “What’s the use-nobody else cares, why should I care?” They may even feel God does not care.

Therefore, they need to learn:

  1. To be patient with people and learn that criticizing them is not going to  make them do a better job. They need to remember Proverbs 25:11:  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
  2. To stay moderately involved with their family and friends in order to keep the peace to avoid more stress.
  3. To learn that the Lord is with them every step of the way and that He will give them strength.

See Nehemiah 8:10:  “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

PLEASE NOTE:  These are temperament tendencies, and, as always, while you are counseling the Phlegmatic in Inclusion you must take into consideration their walk with the Lord, learned behavior, personality and birth order.

In the next issue, we will look at the Pearl of Great Value—Sanguine in Inclusion.

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