Detail-Oriented People Need to Lighten Up


Over the past several weeks we have looked at what I call the Driven/Task-Oriented (D/TO) personality, the Optimistic/People-Oriented (O/PO) personality and the Even-Tempered/Status Quo-Oriented (E/SO) personality. This week we will examine the Sensitive/Detail-Oriented (S/DO) personality.
For each of the personality types, we have spent one week on understanding that personality type. This way, if you identify yourself with a particular type, you can hopefully better understand how you might enhance your strengths and minimize your weaknesses when loving other people the way God intended.
Then the following week, we considered a biblical character that seemed to exemplify that personality type. By doing this, we are able to see how God demonstrates perfect love toward that person, This in turn gives us an idea about how best to love that personality as we imitate God.
So this week I am going to give some thoughts on understanding the Sensitive/Detail-Oriented person with particular emphasis on strengths and weaknesses.
People who tend toward this personality type typically prefer an environment that is orderly. S/DO’s tend to be concerned with accuracy and precision. (If I have made a typographical error or the paper has left off some of my column again, it will be the S/DO’s that I will hear from.)
Before assuming a new task, an S/DO will have a tendency to ask many clarification questions and will want more time to analyze. He will remain cautious and will focus on the “proper way” of doing things.
He will need well-defined responsibilities along with reassurance of support from others. The basic fear of the S/DO is that someone will criticize his work.
S/DO’s have high standards for themselves and others. And typically they don’t meet up with their own high standards and neither do others. So S/DO’s continually have to battle unrealistic expectations.
S/DO’s are many times artists and musicians as they see beauty and create beauty. They also feel deeply. Their emotions run deep. And these emotions come out in their creations. They can also come across as moody because they easily fall into a funk.
Because S/DO’s are able to see flaws and imperfections, they can easily come across to others as negative and critical when they point them out. In addition, many times the S/DO’s default reaction is “No.”
If you are an S/DO here are a few suggestions on how to emphasize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Spend time studying and meditating on grace. Because of your awareness of your short-comings (sin), you are in a position to either 1) not fully experience grace or 2) fully understand the heights of grace poured out on you. Because you tend to beat yourself up a lot worse than anyone else would, you may need to spend time focusing on and experiencing God’s grace and forgiveness in a more real and deeper fashion.
Although it may go against your natural bent to put yourself out on a limb, give people the benefit of the doubt. Expect that people are good-willed in their intentions until proven otherwise.
Your attention to detail, strict adherence to guidelines, and focus on responsibility can come across to others as pettiness and a critical spirit. This may come as a shock to you but there may be more than one good/right way to do something.
What you call “Giving God your best” is translated by others as “I know what is best/right and you don’t; so let’s do this my way or not at all.” This can damage relationships. Regularly ask God to show you the right balance.
Lighten up! Smile more! Try to let your first response be “yes” rather than “no”; or at least “That is a good suggestion. Let’s think through that.”
Although it may be hard to turn off, let your mind take a vacation every now and then from evaluating and scrutinizing everything and everyone. Use your powers of detection to find the positives in things and people.
Your personality usually shies away from attention. But remember, just because you do not want the limelight does not mean that you are not acting like everything is about you. A lot fewer people are thinking about you than you may think…much less thinking anything bad about you.
Mr. or Ms. S/DO, God has given you an amazing ability to evaluate, discern, create and pay attention to detail. As you allow the Holy Spirit to rein these in from becoming critical, you are in a position to lovingly and graciously keep the Body of Christ focused on being good stewards through using God’s resources responsibly and effectively for His Kingdom.
Scot Wall is pastor of Magnolia Bible Church and the new Texas State Capitol Minister with Capitol Commission. Send comments to

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