I am most comfortable being:
( ) Spontaneous ( ) A planner
These questions boil down to identifying your personality type as a selection from each of the following four pairs:
- Extroverted or Introverted?
- Sensing or Intuitive?
- Thinking or Feeling?
- Judging or Perceiving?
For a while in my twenties such sorting fascinated me too. However, I found that the four pairs just partly describe personality. The MTBI misses such fundamental personality polarities as compassion vs. selfishness, attention vs. detachment, gratitude vs. entitlement, patience vs. progress, and crunchy vs. creamy.
Most troubling to me from a scientific view: Some subjects were presented again with the same MTBI questions they had answered a few weeks before. Half ended up as a different personality type!
These quizzes try to objectively focus on what people do or would do rather than what people think or feel. Still, your answers to “what would you do” can vary a lot even in a short time, as in the half-hour from before coffee to after coffee. I can be extroverted with friends but introverted with strangers. I know analytic artists and intuitive engineers. I know people who both think and feel, and people who neither think nor feel. I know people who are painfully shy in conversation, but amazing encouragers with their music. “I am large, I contain multitudes.” In view of such weak foundations, I consider the MTBI at best a provocative start toward “know yourself.” It can awaken you to the diversity of personalities, which is a very good thing. But it does not reliably categorize personality. Take it, but don't take it seriously.
For less pretentious stereotyping, visit websites such as Zimbio. These will help you find, “What Harry Potter character are you?” or “Which Classic Cereal are you?” Join several results together to save time in introductions. “Hi, I am a Gandalf Cornflakes Elmo Varys Strawberry Hulk Aquarius Monkey.”
You see now why I returned my co-workers' MBTI form untouched. I exclaimed, “Thank you, friends, but people don't fit in these little boxes! We don't need no stinkin' boxes! I TRANSCEND THESE LITTLE BOXES!”
They shrugged and put me down as type INFP, which I think means “Passive-Aggressive Curmudgeon Nerd Monkey.”
1. You visit a friend who is sick. What are you most likely to talk about?
a. Talk about their problem. (P, T)
b. Ask them if they need anything done for them. (S, G)
c. Ask them how they feel. (C)
d. Try to cheer them up by talking about other friends. (E, L)
2. You are in a line in a cafeteria. The person in front of you drops their tray.
Which of these would you most likely do first?
a. Say, "Hey, you dropped your tray!" (P)
b. Say, "These trays can be very slippery." (T)
c. Try to clean up the mess. (S)
d. Find a cafeteria worker to clean up the mess. (L)
e. Say, "Don't feel bad, that could happen to anyone." (C)
f. Say, "No problem, let's go around and try again." (E)
g. While others clean up, get the person a a new tray of food. (G)
The parenthesized letters refer to Romans 12 gifts: Prophet, Teacher, Servant, Leader, Carer, Encourager, Giver. How did you do?
Further Bible study and discussion would spotlight people who exhibited these gifts, such as Jeremiah the prophet. There might be discussion of the role of training, and immature forms of gifts. For example, a bossy person might be developing toward prophet or leader. Or... might just need to repent of being bossy.
Thanks to such examinations, I can efficiently introduce myself to other Christians: “Hi. By God's grace I serve as a teacher a little like Paul of Tarsus with a touch of servant like Martha of Bethany."
"What? Oh. Well, think of me as part Archibald Asparagus and part Pa Grape.”
Romans chapter 12:
“Each one of us has a body with many parts, and these parts all have different uses. In the same way, we are many, but in Christ we are all one body. Each one is a part of that body, and each part belongs to all the other parts. We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us.
- The person who has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in agreement with the faith.
- Anyone who has the gift of serving should serve.
- Anyone who has the gift of teaching should teach.
- Whoever has the gift of encouraging others should encourage.
- Whoever has the gift of giving to others should give freely.
- Anyone who has the gift of being a leader should try hard when he leads.
- Whoever has the gift of showing mercy to others should do so with joy.
1 Corinthians chapter 12:
“God works in all of us in everything we do. Something from the Spirit can be seen in each person, for the common good.
- The Spirit gives one person the ability to speak with wisdom.
- The same Spirit gives another the ability to speak with knowledge.
- The same Spirit gives faith to one person.
- And, to another, that one Spirit gives gifts of healing.
- The Spirit gives to another person the power to do miracles,
- to another the ability to prophesy.
- And he gives to another the ability to know the difference between good and evil spirits.
- The Spirit gives one person the ability to speak in different kinds of languages and to another the ability to interpret those languages. …
If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body. But truly God put all the parts, each one of them, in the body as he wanted them. So then there are many parts, but only one body. … God wanted the different parts to care the same for each other. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor.
Together you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of that body. In the church
- God has given a place first to apostles,
- second to prophets,
- and third to teachers.
- Then God has given a place to those who do miracles,
- those who have gifts of healing,
- those who can help others,
- those who are able to govern,
- and those who can speak in different languages.
Ephesians chapter 4:
“Christ gave gifts to people—he made
- some to be apostles,
- some to be prophets,
- some to go and tell the Good News, and
- some to have the work of caring for and teaching God’s people.
Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger.
1 Peter chapter 4:
“Most importantly, love each other deeply, because love will cause people to forgive each other for many sins. Open your homes to each other, without complaining. Each one of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.
- Anyone who speaks should speak words from God.
- Anyone who serves should serve with the strength God gives so that in everything God will be praised through Jesus Christ.
- If you think you do not have a spiritual gift, you are mistaken. “Each one of you has received a gift to serve others.” "Each one of you is part of that body.” Are you an “each one”?
- Spiritual gifts are not for my benefit, but for the benefit of others.
- Do I want to find my spiritual gifts? Self-analysis has benefits. But: "He who acts as his own doctor has a fool for a patient." So I listen to myself, to others, and to undirected sharp critiques.
- There are several different lists of Spiritual Gifts. Hence, I believe these lists are not exhaustive, that there are Godly gifts not in the Bible. Thus, an associate of the Surge, a certain Mr. R, has the gift of parking cargo trailers. Does perfectly parking a trailer in one try serve the needs of others? It sure does.
- From the evidence, I believe that God has grown effective groups that please him without having all gifts listed in the Bible. I do not see that God is obligated to give a church or individuals what we want. God gives us what we need. Wanting miracles is ok, wanting insight is ok, praying for special gifts is ok. Nevertheless, if healings or spot-on predictions or inspired leadership have not turned up, I still trust that “my God will supply all my need." God sometimes clears the field so people will not brag that they saved themselves, but rather it was God who accomplished a task.
- I like to study persons who particularly demonstrate a gift. For example, encouragement is a Biblical gift, and the Bible explicitly identifies Barnabas as an encourager. I used to think of encouragement as mostly a gift for saying the right few words. However, the Bible lists not one word Barnabas said. It does mention things Barnabas did: he gave all his possessions, he sought out and reconciled church leaders, he was glad.
- Gifts express to fit context. Encouragement? It can manifest through words, by just being there, in giving, and certainly through music. Apostles? What did apostles do? They took the good news to many people, often cross-culturally. Today we call such people "missionaries". What did prophets do? They spoke and acted out messages God gave, dramatically exhibiting God's view. Sometimes this message was about the near future and testable. More often, prophecy was not prediction. Prophecy was speaking truth to power.
- A common, limited perspective on gifts is that God gives gifts to you. A higher perspective on gifts is this: God gives you to the Church. Then God gives the Church to the world.
- If a group is not recognizing you as God’s gift to them, try putting a big shiny bow in your hair, like a Christmas present. Did that fail to gain you appreciation? Consider clues discovered as you try to serve. Search the scriptures. Talk with God. Talk with people, especially (a) those who have the uncommon gift called discernment, (b) those who clearly exhibit your supposed gift, and (c) those who supposedly benefit from your gift. "Are you being served?"
- Consider Joe. Joe is an inspirational teacher of adults; but Joe fails to engage kids. Carol is a successful CEO and might adapt her C-level skills to wisely guide in church; but on her initial voyages, Carol runs the gospel ship onto a reef. Ted is literally a rock star. Ted is passionate. Ted excites. But people go home from church remarking, "Wasn't Ted good today?" instead of "Wasn't God good today?" Joe, Carol, and Ted have gifts, definitely are gifts to serve other people. However, though it makes sense to try those first, their best service might not be in their professional certifications. After forbearance from all, we may find that Joe is a reliable church pilot, Carol is a comfort and encourager, and Ted changes for better the lives of kids.
- Ambition or admiration will not make God give you a specific gift. You want to be an alpha archbishop or God's anointed alto? Then reflect on Jesus’ words, “Whoever wants to be the most important must be last of all and servant of all.” Temperament may not identify your role. How about Moses the leader of Israel? Of Moses the Bible reveals, “Now Moses was very humble. He was the least proud person on earth.” From my reading of the Bible and history, though God often shapes a person’s traits to fulfill a role, for awesome jobs God drafts the most unlikely people, all the better to expose that not talent but God is doing the heavy lifting.
- If you have read my recent accounts of experiences and thoughts on helping needy people, and have been helping such people yourself, you’ll know that helping without hurting sometimes is easy, but often requires great wisdom. What about people with chronic needs, not just of money but of attitude, education, and opportunity? What of addicts and others who have made bad decisions, who continue making bad decisions? What of needs close to you, such as your family, your friends, and your own old age, versus the needs of strangers? The Bible has some answers for such questions. One of the answers is this: that other people in the Church may have some answers. That is my point about body life. Rather than always offering comprehensive prescriptions for what ails this world, God gives the world a dynamic gift: a team called the Church.