Personality Tests & Followers of Christ
In today’s society, there’s overwhelming popularity in personality tests as a way to gain self-knowledge. From Facebook “fun” quizzes to Myer-Briggs and The Enneagram, many in the body of Christ use these tools to learn more about themselves and the people around them. But, are these tests adversely informing our perspective on who we are called to be? Do we use these tools to excuse our behavior – and even our sin?
Teammate Christa Threlfall takes a deeper look at personality tests, their use among Christians, and their relation to God’s Word. Read on and assess your use of these tools.
I never thought much about the terms “extrovert” and “introvert” until I got married and wondered why my spouse and I were so different. Take Sunday, for example, the most social day of our week. My husband is the pastor, and we are often meeting visitors after services. He seems to thrive on this type of interaction—plus, he’s really good at it. The idea of walking up to a group of new people and joining in on their conversation energizes him.
I, on the other hand, have often found refuge by extended stays in the restroom. This way I can avoid the awkwardness of meeting new people and running out of conversation topics, while also not appearing selfish.
It would be easy for me to excuse this choice to avoid meeting people with the explanation that I tend toward introversion. But is it okay for me to shy away from people because it makes me uncomfortable?
You may have noticed a major emphasis over the last few years on discovering your personality type or Enneagram number. Much of this research has been incredibly helpful. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your personality (and the personalities of those around you) can enable you to better relate to those unlike you.
Christian proponents of tests like the Enneagram affirm their value to diagnose our weaknesses and encourage us in Christlikeness. “The strength of the Enneagram is that it exposes where we might need healing and what vices might be causing division with others and even within ourselves,” John Starke writes. “As Christians, we use the Enneagram as a tool to find healing not by becoming our true selves but by finding ourselves more truly in Christ.”
But I’ve noticed another side to this well-intentioned journey of self-knowledge. Sometimes, instead of using our personality-test results as a tool, we can almost view them as an infallible declaration of who we are and how we will act. Even worse, we can use them as an excuse for sin.
Myers-Briggs Made Me Do It
It’s tempting to think the reason I didn’t want to meet new people was because it’s simply not in my makeup. But that wouldn’t be entirely true. Often, I don’t want to because of sin. I don’t like feeling awkward, so I can try to pass my selfishness off as “just part of my personality.” Yes, it’s uncomfortable for me to open up, reach out, and welcome people into my life. But that doesn’t mean I can ignore God’s command to love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31).
Christa Threlfall is a pastor’s wife and mother of four. She enjoys reading, writing, and being active outdoors with her family. You can read her blog at Brown Sugar Toast and follow her on Instagram.