Melancholic Sanctification

The thrust of these suggestions is to move the melancholic person toward God and toward others in ways that include healthy doses of activity over against their unremitting reflections.  They need to cultivate dependence on God against their belief in the strength of their own intellect.  They need to cultivate love & humility against their natural inclination toward self-absorption and arrogance.

  1. Read or study scripture daily.[1]
  2. Regularly share raw footage of your thoughts and your sins with those close to you and listen actively to their assessments.[2]
  3. Develop a prayer list for the people in your group and spend time, daily, praying through the list.
  4. Listen actively to the thoughts & needs of others when you spend time with them.[3]
  5. Have 4-7 contacts with members of your home group each week.[4]
  6. Exercise vigorously three times each week.
  7. Get at least 8 hours of sleep.[5]
  8. Get in the habit of developing action steps for they things you analyze.[6]
  9. Cultivate faith & gratitude to offset the tendency toward intellectualizing God & toward ingratitude.
  10. Learn to lighten up.[7]

Footnotes

  1. Study is vital.  However, don't disparage prayerful reading of scripture as well.  Reading 3-4 chapters of scripture each day is an admirable & attainable goal.   Consider D. A. Carson's approach in For the Love of God
  2. This means that you are not hiding your thoughts or sins until you can produce a detailed analysis.  Melancholic people tend to like to control information so that by the time they make their thoughts clear they have already produced an analysis and solution with a three-part chart.  If they've gone off track it's hard for the other person to see how and it's even harder for the melancholic to listen to an alternative view.  This is the arrogance of the melancholic…they need practice giving their thoughts and sins to another when they haven't yet figured things out.  They need to behave in a way that is an acknowledgment that God speaks through others. 
    You also need to learn to recognize and admit when you are losing control of things to a close friend (e.g. Thought life, depression, judgments, bitterness, obsessions). The thrust of this point is that the melancholic person tends to be pretty unaware of how stressed they are feeling and how poorly they are coping.  They tend to think they can handle more than they really can.  This is hard.  How can you learn to recognize what you tend to not recognize?  When people ask if you're OK, pay attention.  When you have bouts of road rage ask what's going on.  When you find your thought life is consumed with one idea for days & weeks.   When those around you all seem to be having the same negative effect upon you, it may not be them.
  3. Active listening involves asking questions about their statements, feeding back to them what you've heard them say and restraining yourself from the habit of retreating into your head to organize their thoughts into an elaborate system or analysis.  Ask God what he wants to show you through the conversation (i.e. about them, about yourself, about those they are speaking of, about the ideas they are sharing).
  4. Outside of CT or HG meetings…(e.g. cell group, phone calls, sharing meals, nights out, prayer, ministry together, etc.)
  5. Some melancholic people sacrifice sleep routinely.
  6. Melancholic folk can be brilliant but impractical.
  7. Concerning yourself, your mistakes & your ideas.  Let people tease you without getting upset.  Practice smiling and looking like you're enjoying life.  Learn to appreciate the relaxed feeling the phlegmatic temperament brings to a situation or the fun a sanguine temperament supplies.