I took a personality test my first year of college and, according to the Meyers-Briggs type indicator, I’m an INTJ — introverted and intuitive. According to online resources, I share a personality with CS Lewis and Gandalf (good), and Lance Armstrong (not so good).
I also dipped a toe into the enneagram pool last year and, according to that test, I’m a 5w4, which the internet says indicates a high value for knowledge and a propensity for cynicism and trouble in relationships.
These tests are mostly fun, partly helpful and very pseudoscientific. But I found small grains of truth in each one that seemed to describe me to some degree. While the Greek maxim to “know thyself” can result in an unhealthy amount of focus on oneself, I think it has some benefit for Christians as well.
As humans, each shaped by certain cultural and personal values, we tend to value certain traits and personality types above others. Some people are “leadership material” and some aren’t. The same attitude can also creep into the church.
The gregarious extrovert at home in the pulpit might seem “better” than the quiet introvert who prefers to work behind the scenes. An ambitious and more outspoken woman might be unfavourably compared with her soft-spoken sister. How many have heard “no one will marry you if you’re like —-” from well meaning relatives? And how many of us struggle with feelings of deep insecurity and wish we could be more like someone else?
Psalms 139:14 says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This verse is often used in the context of our physical bodies, but what about our personalities and interests as well?
God makes both introverts and extroverts, visionary leaders and practical supporters. Such examples are seen in Scripture as well
God makes both introverts and extroverts, visionary leaders and practical supporters. Such examples are seen in Scripture as well. When God chooses a demure and shy man like Moses, He sends Aaron, a more talented public speaker along with him.
There is much value in honestly assessing and understanding how your distinct personality and inclinations can best display the glory of God.
Similarly, it can be useful to understand if you may be prone to certain sins and spiritual struggles.
The same zealous nature that gives you a passion for right doctrine may also cause you to be unnecessarily dogmatic or abrasive. The peacemaking believer may tend to avoid necessary confrontations for fear of rocking the boat. Personally, while I’m learning to appreciate my introverted side, I had to stop using it as an excuse for avoiding community and fellowship.
Ephesians 4:13 lays out the end goal for all Christians: “until we all… become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. The Christian’s “personality goal” is Jesus Himself. And yet, as the spectrum of colours in a single light ray appear when refracted through a prism, I think Christ is seen all the better through the different personalities and giftings of believers. There is no one way to be like Jesus.
The idea of vastly different people making up a unified body is not a new one. This is the core image that Scripture uses to describe the Church. I hope each one of us can rejoice in how our Creator has shaped our bodies, minds, personalities, and talents to reflect His glory and serve His people.
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