Is there any way of understanding what goes on in my head or my heart?
Is it possible to make sense of the way I react to situations and other people and how they react to me?
Why does fear or anxiety prevent me living life to the full?
People think I'm calm and in control, but do they really know what is going on inside me?
Why is it that the relationships in my life seem to be falling apart?
Can broken, painful relationships ever be put back together?
Life is about relationships. How we feel about ourselves determines our ability to form and sustain healthy relationships. There are a number of factors that determine our self-image; understanding our temperaments and those formative influences will help us to answer these questions. Much damage can be done by unhealthy relationships, and healing comes through a proper understanding of healthy relationships.
HCC Podcast 1: Introduction to understanding
Shealan is conducting a series of interviews with John to explore the importance of understanding yourself. In their first podcast John outlines the background to the Understanding Yourself resources and explains why it's important to understand ourselves and our temperaments. He gives a brief explanation of the temperaments - for further information on temperaments click here.
Click here to download the podcast 'Introduction to understanding'
It will soon become apparent as you listen and read the material in this section that we put real emphasis on understanding yourself. How does this fit with a church site that has as its foundation biblical principles? Simply this: on the one hand we have a responsibility to dig into the Bible and work to understand correctly what it says and on the other hand we face the challenge of applying those timeless truths to the human condition – and to different individuals in very specific ways. A doctor not only knows his medical science thoroughly, he has to know how to apply that knowledge to each individual who needs his help.
The word 'Shalom' is still used by Jews as a greeting. It is derived from a three letter root sh-l-m which means 'to make complete or whole'. It means peace, wholeness, a sense of well-being; in fact it means salvation in the fullest sense of the word. When the Bible writers talk about the Kingdom of Heaven they mean God's Spirit having free reign in every part of who we are - including all that goes on deep inside us. So the Bible shows us how we can be connected up within, at peace with ourselves. If we are going to be at peace with ourselves we will need to understand what is going on inside us.
Click here to read a more in depth explanation of five reasons why it is important to know who we are.
We hope that you will find here an understanding of yourself and others that will help you to bring together life-changing truth and the challenges of everyday life. We trust that in these resources you will discover principles that will equip you to work through the most challenging relationship issues, whether in your own life or as you offer support for others.
How understanding helps relationships
We have taught for many years in this church that relationships have to be at the centre of everything. Firstly, our relationship with God - 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' - and then others - 'Love your neighbour as yourself' (Luke 10:27).
This is because, at the back of everything, is a Triune God who has always been, always is, and always will be involved in the deepest, most meaningful relationships possible. In other words, we - and all of creation - are simply made that way. However, we live in a broken, damaged world. Sin and its consequences destroy relationships. The church is God's way of restoring those relationships - through Jesus.
So, we are not about temperaments. They simply help put shape and understanding to how we tick. Rather, we are about restoring relationships because that is what God is about. We are not even about growth or wholeness. Those things happen as a by-product of pressing through in our relationships.
If we make growth the primary aim the focus comes back on to us. If we make relationships our passion then it will always be about the other person. We are certainly not into self-help - that would be a denial of the Gospel - but we do believe that we should take responsibility for ourselves to live in God's grace and power.
What tools are used in this church to help achieve that understanding?
There are 2 courses which will give you the opportunity to understand yourself -
The Online course - this course focuses on an understanding your temperaments. It provides an opportunity for a personal look at the formative influences of childhood, a discovery of your particular temperament blends and how those influences have shaped who you are by temperament. It can be completed online if you have access to a computer; otherwise printed versions are available.
Understanding Yourself weekends - usually residential, these teaching weekends provide the opportunity to discover who you are - and how you can help others. The Understanding Yourself courses help to identify temperament blends and also include fascinating concepts such as 'how our identity is formed', 'affirmation' and 'reaching the introvert within ourselves'. Being part of a group helps to provide numerous insights and illustration of the material. There is a page containing further details of the Understanding Yourself weekends.
The two courses do dovetail and complement each other well; attending an Understanding Yourself weekend creates an ideal context for the online course and helps to consolidate the understanding gained through the course.
'Understanding Yourself' by John Sparkes is the temperament manual used in the courses in a slightly different format. It contains helpful insights that will help you understand why you think and feel the way you do. It is an excellent resource for parents as it is written from the perspective of 'what does this child need as she or he is growing up?'. It will be helpful in understanding your husband, wife or friend as well as gaining insights into issues such as anxiety and depression.
It is an e-book, available via Amazon for just over £7.00, which can be downloaded to a Kindle. If you don't own a Kindle you can download a free app so you can read it on your PC.
To read reviews of the book and/ or buy it click the picture.
Julie has written a very helpful article entitled 'I'm OK' which shows how both the online course and weekends can turn around the way we feel about ourselves.