I’m an ISFP in the Myers Brigg test… mostly so.
I’m a 2 on Enneagram. Which means I’m a helper… mostly.
Personality tests seem really fun. At times they can bring great joy. I love to learn what I’m all about! It isn’t perfect, it’s a bit wonky but it can be harmless musings. It can also hit me right between the eyes of who I am. When this happens all sorts of lights go off in my head.
This is why I do and act a certain way! How charming!
What becomes less charming about these is everything surrounding it. These tests present an endless chasm of knowledge. Not all of it is godly. You must be prayerful and mindful as you delve deeper into the secular knowings of “who you are”.
In an earlier blog post I spoke about common wisdom. This would be a practical wisdom that helps in understanding the world around us. The book of proverbs is great for learning about relationships, folly, the evils of laziness.; it even has some godly wisdom on how to avoid temptation, drunkenness, what makes up a godly man, and what makes up a godly woman. There is just so much jam-packed goodness in those verses!
But, what if you were to read a proverb that says something like:
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Would your response be something like, “That’s nice and all but that doesn’t fit my personality type.”
The common knowledge of personality tests that tell you practical things about yourself and how you fit in the world should always be subject to who you are in Christ.
Peronsality tests can even hold you back on the practical things. When I was a teacher, I would have introverted moments or days that I wanted to stay home. But I had to go to work and teach my students.
Myers Brigg points out that I’m introverted and need some “me” time.
My paycheck and my bills call out to me in my comfy bed. “Go forth,” they say, “earn your living so that you do not turn towards folly.”
How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
The common knowledge you gain from these tests do not tell you who you are. They aren’t some hidden knowledge that awaken the perfection within.
If only I could spend some more “me” time! This will help me be a better teacher! I’ll call in “sick” and watch some shows. Then after that, I’ll be able to teach those kids….
Or I could, you know, go to work and actually teach those kids, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Speaking of discomfort, my depression kicked in on my second and last year of teaching. I had a tough class of students that year (unlike my wonderful first-year class). I had many sleepless nights. It was very uncomfortable for me. I didn’t want to go to work for days on end. This was on top of all of the meetings I had to attend.
I did eventually leave my teaching job but only after finishing the school year. My letter of intent to leave was given to the staff at the beginning of the second semester. This gave them plenty of time to find a replacement.
The point is, sometimes life calls for you to do things that don’t fit in your comfort zone, your leanings, or, what Myers Briggs would call your personality.
Personality tests point to your comfort zone. They can also be helpful at pointing out your flaws in that comfort zone… but more importantly, our sinful selves can use them as an excuse to be uncharitable towards others.
Myers Brigg, Enneagram, and other personality tests tell us to “find ourselves”. This will lead us to a happy and fulfilled life.
Jesus tells us to lose ourselves in Him.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Okay! So we just have to love Jesus and this is enough!
Well… your love for Jesus should eventually lead to your love for others, especially towards other believers. What I mean is, of course you are to love your enemies, but the love you give those under the covenant is of a different sort.
In John 15 Jesus said this to his disciples:
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
We must love one another as Christ loved us!
This means being uncomfortable at times. It means doing things even when you don’t want to do them. It means giving up your life, even, if the situation calls for it. In a lesser sense, it means giving up your time, your thoughts, your ear, and your words for another’s sake.
The parable of the good Samaritan comes to mind (Luke 10:25-37).
Jesus isn’t telling us to purposely exhaust ourselves. There were times when He went away and prayed. But when the Lord’s work was placed before him, when the crowds found him, even in His rest, He knew he had to be about the Lord’s business.
There will be times when we must sacrifice our self worth for the sake of God’s kingdom. I left the school a broken man. It took a lot of godly counseling and time to heal from this. And there were still many other trials to come, trials that would draw me back into the sinful nature of depression.
But how much better was it for the students I taught? I didn’t give up on them. I finished my duty towards them. I helped in the transition process so that others might continue to be taught.
Bitterness would have called for me to quit the job and teach them all a lesson!
But Jesus hasn’t called me towards bitterness. He calls me to love one another as He loves me. This was most assuredly proven on the cross.
That didn’t fit in with Jesus’ comfort zone. He even asked if the cup of this trial might be passed on from him.
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
There are no excuses for you to be worshipful to God and uncharitable towards others. Your leanings and foibles do not matter with God’s commandments.
Jesus says in Matthew 22
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
At times, God calls us to be extroverted and awake to do His will in this world. At other times we are to be introverted in prayer and biblical study.
He wants us to be sensitive to the present state of the world around us. Notice your day to day doings and musings as a glorious praise towards Him. He also wants us to be intuitive and open to our future dreams so that they are subject to His will.
We must memorize scripture and be prepared in the technical knowings of the bible. We must have empathy and “feel” the other’s sorrows and pains, otherwise the bible we profess will fall on deaf ears.
We must be wise in judgment toward ourselves and others. We need to be able to discern the right spirit of a person before us. But, we also must perceive that we may be in error and blinded by our sins.
We must be peacemakers at times, and reformers at others. God asks us to help and to achieve or overcome various kinds of trials. We need to know when to withdraw within ourselves in private prayer, or when to investigate a matter with the intense scrutiny of the bible. We must be faithful, loyal, and protective towards the things of God. We must be joyful and busy in His words. We must challenge the evil in this world and be challenged by His goodness.
Many times the things of the Lord fall within our leanings. But there are times when He calls us out of them. Be open, prayerful and mindful so that you are not led astray by the common musings of this fallen world.
And so, are personality tests evil? Ultimately I’d have to say yes, an evil mixed with some common knowledge truths. But in the end what fruit is produced?
Be subject to who you are in Christ alone.
Any knowledge of the world, especially when taken to excess leads to idolatry.
Edit: I previously mentioned that Enneagram and Myers Briggs tests were neutral. I no longer believe that. I’ve edited this post to reflect this change. If you are curious to what caused me to repent, read my addendum post here.