Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Defense Objects Your Honor!

Written by: on April 5, 2023

Daniel Nettle’s research spans across a vast range of fields such as health, psychology, individual differences and personality, and evolutionary sciences as well as in topics such as social inequality, cooperation, deprivation, and biological aging. Having a little more time this week with injuring my hand, I was able to do some deeper research on Nettle. These include a series of studies leading up to Nettle’s influential paper, “The Evolution of Personality Variation in Humans and Other Animals,” which facilitated the progress of the academic study in personality within the evolutionary paradigm.[1] This paper provides different theories that have been proposed to explain variations in personality and highlights how Nettle’s work has contributed to the field of evolutionary personality psychology.


In this book, Nettle begins with an overview of how the ‘Big Five’ (extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to experience) were determined and describes how different behavioral people have different characteristics.[2] One of the main points Nettle addresses is the difference within characteristics that make a single human being different from the other. He also points the theory of how these traits have evolved over time. From my particular interest is the question of why population? Why aren’t we all roughly the same? According to Nettle, the answer is that there is not a single optimum personality that it is always beneficial to have.

The Prophets Warning

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. As Daniel Nettle offers us another alternative to what the bible says, how much longer will Christians look to what the world has to offer as knowledge and truth? How many will continue to not seek out God’s Word and Spirit? Are our bodies so consumed with things of this world, we are no longer hungry or take time to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.

Selling Out

In the beginning of Genesis, Adam and Eve sought after what the world could give them, a temporary solution to a hunger that can only be satisfied by God. Also in Genesis we see the story of Esau and Jacob. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a temporary provision or answer to his problem. Romans 9:12-13 we see that God “hated” Esau and loved Jacob. I do not want to be a son of God who sells out for the things the world has to offer.

Origins of Personality and the Big Five

We see in Nettle’s approach to personality focuses on the fitness costs and benefits of possessing varying levels of each personality dimension such that these trade-offs shape personality variation. The benefits of possessing a particular trait depend on the adaptive problem the personality trait is designed to solve and how effective this trait is in circumventing the adaptive problem. The cost of a personality trait can arise from the cost intrinsic to the behavioral tendency as a result of possessing the personality trait or from opportunity cost where an individual would have benefitted if the individual had behaved differently.

Honoring Nettle’s Work and Research

Neetle’s work is thought provoking and his research is a great example to us to strive for. His work is greatly accepted and supported throughout the world. His personality psychology has produced successful taxonomies capable of predicting several outcomes, the fundamental question of the origin of personality remains an unsettled science. Nettle’s proposal outlined how each individual weighs the cost and benefit of a personality strategy, which has fluctuating results.


As a pastor I believe emotions, behavior, thought process can be changed and renewed through the Word of God. As the bible teaches us John 3 that when we become born again our Spirit is awakened. We must be born of the water and spirit. As Camacho, Foursquare, and many other denominations uses the identity gifts from Romans 12 to help us identify personality traits of Jesus Christ.[3] The training I went through with Foursquare to plant a church and be a head pastor is great.[4] Even though Jesus Christ was all seven of the identity gifts and we only have one primary identity gift of the seven. We have His Word and Spirit leading and correcting us.

I wonder if the real problem in the Christian faith is that we are not discipling and equipping anymore? We are more focused on selling t-shirts, merchandise, product in our churches and ministries rather than equipping the saints? We start to see the Prophet Hosea’s warning as something we need to heed to. Lord let us repent and truly be hungry for you and your Kingdom.

Creation > Evolution

[1] Nettle, D. (2006). The Evolution of Personality Variation in Humans and Other Animals. American Psychologist

[2] Daniel Nettle, Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[3] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching, First published (Nottingham: IVP, 2019).

[4] Foursquare Cohort and Hybrid Training Church Planters. Dave Veach. 2014-2016.




About the Author


Greg McMullen

Pastor Greg resides in Lake Stevens WA and pastors a small rural church in the Machias area . The Well Church has a large food ministry in which many different cultures come each week to gather food and counsel. The Church has a small school that is bearing good fruit. Pastor Greg has a large family of 10 children and enjoys fishing and hiking.

5 responses to “The Defense Objects Your Honor!”

  1. mm David Beavis says:

    Hi Greg,

    Thank you for your post. And Happy Easter!

    I need some clarification on these sections and how they fit with the overall flow of what you were writing: “The Prophets Warning” and “Selling Out.” What was the connection with what you said in these paragraphs with your post? I seem to have missed it.

    Also, I hope your hand recovers quickly! Take it easy.

  2. David,
    Happy Easter. As Nettle’s work and research is amazing, I don’t align with it because a person can be changed or transformed through the cross, the Word, and the Spirit.

    My hope and point is that people will look to the Word of God rather than science, theories, human wisdom.

    Nettle’s work is extensive and great example of how our research and results should reflect. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I will reflect on this and see how I can present it more clearly in the future.

    Bless you my friend.

  3. Michael O'Neill says:

    Great post, Greg. “How much longer will Christians look to what the world has to offer as knowledge and truth? How many will continue to not seek out God’s Word and Spirit?” This is something I’ve been trying to tell my family a lot lately. We are consumers everywhere we go. Almost slaves. There are notifications everywhere. Information everywhere. And we really need to filter it with God’s shield and not allow it to take root. Something small can grow when it’s watered and I appreciate your shared disgust with how much garbage is presented in this world. Google is not the ultimate authority. The Bible is. And speaking of the Bible, I sometimes cringe when I read the “hate” translations. It just never sits well with me when I read God hated Esau or God and hate in the same sentence. I personally do not think God hated Esau. There are many instances of blessings. It appears to me that the original text means rejected or separated but either way, I don’t want to be any of these to God.

    Thanks for the good wisdom, Pastor Greg.

  4. Tonette Kellett says:

    Thanks for your writing Greg. You’re always so thought-provoking. I like that you lead us back to the Word. Blessings on you this week.

Leave a Reply