The 4 Temperaments for Catholics by Art and Laraine Bennett

Art and Laraine Bennett

Unlock spiritual growth through understanding your inherent temperament. 'The Temperament God Gave You' by Art and Laraine Bennett helps you navigate this journey.

Summary by:
Dr. Marcel Lanahan

Unpacking Your God-Given Temperament

Ever wondered why you are so thoughtful while someone else is so impulsive? Or have you noticed how much you love your spouse's energy, but wish she would be more attentive to you at times? Understanding our temperaments—our inherent characteristics and behaviors—can shed light on these queries. "The Temperament God Gave You" by Art and Laraine Bennett is a guide to exploring these temperaments and, ultimately, using this understanding to grow spiritually.

Your temperament is determined by how extraverted vs. introverted you are, as well as how emotionally reactive you are.

Meet Your Temperament: The Fabulous Four

The authors outline four key temperaments: choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic. Imagine these as unique colors, each painting a distinct picture of how you engage with the world. You've got your fiery cholerics, your thoughtful melancholics, your radiant sanguines, and your serene phlegmatics.

Not All Roses: The Challenge of Temperaments

Each temperament has its gifts but can also trip us up. A choleric, for instance, can stand firm in their beliefs, but this assertiveness might also teeter towards pride. Melancholics, gifted in self-reflection, can tumble into despair if they lose sight of God's mercy. Sanguines can brighten any room but might struggle with staying focused. Phlegmatics, while grounded and steady, risk becoming complacent.

Let's Get Practical: Growing in Holiness

Throughout the book, you'll find practical tips for cultivating holiness through your temperament. If you're choleric, focus on humility; if melancholic, lean into trust; if sanguine, practice self-discipline; and if you're phlegmatic, fan the flames of zeal.

Temperaments in Relationships: Understanding and Adapting

Our temperaments also play out in our relationships. For example, they suggest that choleric people should work on listening to others and being more compassionate, melancholic people should work on being more open and expressive, sanguine people should work on being more attentive and sensitive to others' needs, and phlegmatic people should work on being more assertive and taking initiative in relationships.

Cholerics need to listen more, melancholics need to express feelings, sanguines should work on being attentive, and phlegmatics need to be more assertive.

Cultivating Balance: Achieving Holiness

The journey ends with the exploration of achieving a balanced temperament through prayer, self-reflection, spiritual direction, and cultivating virtues that offset your natural weaknesses. It's a guide that offers you the tools to understand your temperament and use it to become the person God created you to be.

Remember, no one is purely one temperament; we're all a unique mix. This book offers you the chance to understand your own unique blend and to better appreciate the different temperaments in others.

More detailed descriptions of each of the four temperaments:

  1. Choleric: The choleric has a high level of energy, assertiveness, and ambition. They are goal-oriented and thrive on taking charge and making decisions. They can be seen as confident, decisive, and effective leaders, but can also come across as aggressive, domineering, and controlling. Cholerics are often prone to anger and can be impatient with those who do not share their sense of urgency or drive.
  2. Melancholic: The melancholic temperament is characterized by a high level of sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and introspection. They are often analytical and deep thinkers, with a tendency towards perfectionism and a desire for order and structure. They can be seen as creative, artistic, and poetic, but may also be prone to depression and anxiety. Melancholics are often introverted and reserved, and may struggle with feelings of loneliness or isolation.
  3. Sanguine: The sanguine temperament is characterized by a high level of enthusiasm, energy, and sociability. They are often outgoing, friendly, and charismatic, with a natural ability to make friends and connect with others. They can be seen as fun-loving, spontaneous, and adventurous, but may struggle with impulsivity and lack of follow-through. Sanguines are often optimistic and have a natural ability to bounce back from setbacks or failures.
  4. Phlegmatic: The phlegmatic temperament is characterized by a calm, easy-going nature and a preference for stability and predictability. They are often patient, reliable, and consistent, with a natural ability to listen and empathize with others. They can be seen as peaceful, diplomatic, and supportive, but may struggle with indecisiveness and passivity. Phlegmatics are often introverted and may need time alone to recharge their batteries.

Again, no one fits neatly into just one temperament category. Each person is unique and will exhibit traits from multiple temperaments to varying degrees. The Bennett's book helps readers understand their own primary temperament and how it influences their personality, strengths, and weaknesses, as well as how to better understand and interact with others who may have different temperaments.

More Resources

Here are some online resources related to the book The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett:

  1. The Temperament God Gave You Quiz: This quiz allows you to determine your temperament based on the Bennett's system. Link:
  2. The following website by Art and Laraine Bennett covers a variety of topics related to Catholic living, including the temperaments. Link:
  3. Here is a video presentation by Art and Laraine Bennett covering their book, at the Given Institute's leadership conference. Link: Leadership and the 4 Temperaments
  4. The Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory: This inventory, created by Dr. Kevin Vost, is based on the four temperaments and helps individuals discern their spiritual gifts. Link: Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory.pdf