Knowing a person’s experiences and personality can help you talk about God

Personalizing the way you talk with someone about God can make all the difference.

Why? Because no two people are the same. Your unique blend of cultural contexts, life experiences and personality traits sets you apart from everyone else. The same is true of the people you want to talk with about Jesus.

Knowing a person’s cultural context can help you get started. But the more you know about their life experiences and personality, the better the conversation is likely to go. Because when you understand the other person, you can personalize how and when you talk about God with them, making the conversation more productive and enjoyable.

So here are ways to think about life experiences and personality traits that can help you talk with someone about the gospel.


Life experiences

Understanding how someone came to their beliefs about God is just as important as knowing what they believe.

Take for example two people who are indifferent toward God. One experienced great success in life and never felt the need for God. The other experienced tragedy, felt like God was silent when they cried out for help, and now considers God unreliable. Neither of them think much about God, but both arrived at their indifference by separate paths.

When you know about their life journeys, you can approach a spiritual conversation differently for each of them. You are a living demonstration, translation and contextualization of the gospel for the people in your life. The more you understand them and their story, the better you can connect the story of the gospel to them.

So ask the person to share their life story, and listen carefully. If they share something vulnerable with you, make sure to treat that with respect. Show them by your facial expression, words and actions that you care about them.

Then you can ask one or both of these questions:

  • “What experiences in your life, including defining choices you’ve made, have had the greatest impact on your views about God and the world?” 
  • “Is there a time in your life when you believed something different about God than you do now? If so, what happened to change your beliefs?”



Personality plays a big role in how a person reacts to what has or hasn’t happened to them. Two people can live through the same circumstances but, due to their personality, arrive at different conclusions about God and self.

One truth to keep in mind is that personality is like an iceberg, meaning that it’s more complex than what you can initially see from the surface. So try to avoid making simple assumptions about anyone you talk with.

On a practical level, understanding someone’s personality can help you pick a good place, time and way to have a deep discussion about spiritual topics.

  • If you know that someone is easily stressed by noisy or crowded places, try to find or create a calm environment. Our mood, focus and level of vulnerability are all influenced by our environment. So it’s important to be in a setting where your friend or family member feels able and willing to talk freely.
  • If someone gets angry easily, try talking with them when they have eaten and are rested. The physical, emotional and spiritual parts of our life are all interconnected. Considering the physical aspects can help you avoid certain emotional reactions that would keep you from having a productive spiritual conversation.
  • If a co-worker seems shy and uncomfortable talking one on one about spiritual things, you could ask them to invite someone else to join in. Some people function best when they have downtime in the conversation to form their own thoughts. Talking in a group of 3-4 can give a shy person regular breaks from being the center of attention.

Pay careful attention to how the person acts and reacts in different circumstances. Ask questions about their personality, such as if they’re an introvert or an extrovert, and if they’re optimistic or more often pessimistic. If you’ve taken a personality assessment that makes sense to you, ask the other person if they’ve also taken it and compare your results. Then use what you learn to personalize your conversation with that person.

Because the more you understand your neighbor’s or family member’s unique life experiences and personality, the better you can customize a spiritual conversation for them. And the more personalized the conversation is, the more productive and enjoyable it’s likely to be.