I love personality tests. I can tell you that I am an ENFJ, a 7w6, my love language is quality time, and according to Buzzfeed, if I were a vegetable, I’d be cauliflower (which I find a little offensive). I have always loved taking these types of assessments, and as many of them have risen in popularity over the last few years, I have spent a lot of time defending them to my husband who is decidedly against them.
I believe that personality tests can help us understand ourselves and our own tendencies better. And while none of them can be all-encompassing, they can help give us a jumping-off point for self-reflection, and as Christians, to discover how we might use our unique gifts and character traits to relate to God and in service to the kingdom.
But I have also recognized a dangerous tendency in my own life that can happen in this constant pursuit of self-discovery. As the popularity of these tests rises in both the secular culture and within the church, we are often given the message that each character trait - good and bad - should be celebrated as part of what makes us who we are.
Suddenly, we are allowed to forsake community and refuse vulnerability because we are introverts, end relationships because they “no longer serve us”, or cancel plans at the last second in the name of “self care”. We can embrace our own perfectionism, pride, lack of discipline, selfishness, and any other number of things as unchangeable parts of ourselves, instead of calling them what they truly are: sin. We start trying to take our sinful hearts and put on the prettier label of personality in order to justify our disobedience.
We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. We are unique and different and created individually and specifically by God. But we are also all sinful human beings. We are born with a rebellious sin nature, and therefore not every tendency that we have is good. The Bible calls us to deny ourselves in order to follow Christ, and so while I do believe personality tests can offer us insight into who we are and how we relate to the world, we are then called to deny those preferences if they do not serve the kingdom and gospel mission.
I have heard the phrase used a lot in secular culture to “live your truth”. But just because something is true about ourselves, does not make it Truth. Though it can be helpful to know ourselves so that we can use our unique gifting and way of moving in the world to serve Christ better, it is more important to know Christ, who he is, and how we can imitate him.
One Body, Many Parts
The Church is beautiful because it is made of so many different individuals. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are like a body with many different parts. We each have unique gifts and traits, but they are to be used in unity to serve the church and to spread the gospel. In Ephesians 4:22-24, we are called to put off our old selves and “to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”. And in Galatians 5:22-23, we are given specific examples of the traits that our lives should be marked by: the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control).
While all of our fruit will look different because we are different, the fruit of the Spirit will always point back to Christ. And while each of our giftings vary, they all work together to bring glory to God.
The world wants us to believe that we can arrive at a place of peace and happiness once we fully know ourselves, but we know as Christians that true joy and peace can only come from knowing God through his son Jesus Christ. I want to know who God made me to be specifically and individually, but more importantly, I want to know him.
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