Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve taken at least three different types of personality profile assessments. They all provide the same, basic information, just different wording.
Though personality can change slightly as we mature, our base personality never really changes. The personality we’re born with, research shows, is the personality we live with our whole lives.
Some people disagree with the effectiveness and even accuracy of personality profiling. My experience, however, shows them to not only be generally accurate most of the time but helpful as well.
Speaking toward accuracy, I’m the poster child for my personality profile — known as INFJ or The Advocate — on what’s probably the most well-known profiling system, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (Note: I took my most recent profile on 16 Personalities.)
As for helpfulness, that’s been more of a journey. Or perhaps, more accurately, a maturing toward realizing that the helpfulness really is determined by focus. For many years, I had a wrong focus when it came to my personality profile.
Value of Personality Profiles
Personality profiles helped me learn more about others and about myself by identifying both strengths and weaknesses. In addition, personality profiling helped me better appreciate the differences from one individual to the next.
Personality profiling also gave me an idea of how a person processes information and why they react the way they do to different situations. It also helps in understanding why people avoid certain situations and why they prefer to be alone or with others.
When I realized these differences between people simply because of personality, I began to see that often it’s not that one person has to be wrong and the other right. Instead, they are often just coming at situations from different perspectives and with different ways of processing information.
Take my husband and me for example. To relax, I like to read and maybe watch a movie. I need a lot of quiet and alone time in order to regain the energy necessary to be around people. He, on the other hand, uses activities like yard work and running with a group to relax. He enjoys being around people a lot with the number of people not mattering much. If I’m around people, I prefer a small group of close friends, and even then not too often.
A main difference in our personalities is that he is an extravert, and I am an introvert. That element combined with others specific to our personalities help explain why we have these and other preferences.
Over the years, this information helped us both understand each other better and to accept that we process information differently. We also see how we have very different social and recharging needs. This information encourages us to better accommodate one another instead of trying to change one another or insist on what suits us best.
Personality Profiling Mistakes
The mistake I too often make with personality profiling is putting the focus on myself. My natural reaction whenever I’ve taken a profile is to first want other people to learn about and then appreciate my unique personality. I expect them to want to apply it like I do and am disappointed when those closest to me fail to better understand and appreciate me and to show this understanding and appreciation in tangible ways.
In other words, knowing personality profiles, mine and others, was not only less effective but also damaging to myself and my relationships when I made it all about me. Fortunately, I’ve always come around and realized the error of my ways. I then refocus on using personality profiles to improve my relationships.
Personalities in Ministry
Three Scriptures specifically helped transformed my application of personality profiling. The Holy Spirit connected the use of personality profiling with God’s heart on interacting with others. He helped me understand how he made me and why. This understanding transformed me and my relationships.
Doing Your Part
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:8)
Learning personality styles of the people with whom I interact helps me better live at peace with others. Instead of getting frustrated at what people say and do and how they say and do it, I can instead better understand where they are coming from as it relates to their personality. Everybody processes information differently, and there are a lot of right ways to get results.
Sure, people make choices that disturb peaceful relationships, and not all of those choices can be accounted for by personality. Yet, knowing others basic personality style helps ease frustration because I am at least aware of differences in personality at play. For me, this helps increase the peace in my interpersonal interactions.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Every person has weaknesses. For me, the ones listed in my personality profile describe mine well. If I think about them too much, I focus on wishing I had a different personality. I’ve even asked God to give me a different personality, to take away those specific weaknesses. Of course he didn’t since he made me the way I am for a reason.
Eventually, I realized God really does show his power through my weaknesses. I’m not quite to the point of boasting about them a lot, but I do more regularly acknowledge them and also ask God to work through them. When he does, I try to notice and to give him the credit.
With that, I am learning to appreciate my weaknesses. Doing so puts the focus more on God and his power working in my life. In these same ways, I see him working in the lives of others too.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)
Every Christian is a unique part of the body of Christ. We need all of the parts to have an effective and healthy body. Having a variety of personalities is a part of this truth.
Every personality brings value to the whole. Every one can make it healthier.
Nichole Palmitier, an Associate Pastor at New Hope Assembly of God in Three Rivers, MI (my home church) sums up well this idea of appreciating personalities as a part of ministry.
“I like to think about interacting with different personalities or even the same personalities as God’s mission to His people for unity. Are we equipping ourselves as believers to seek unity in the body of Christ? The mission of unity is so strong throughout Scripture, for me, it is difficult to believe that personalities are pushed to the side and not incorporated. Which leads me to think that personalities and spirituality are fairly important when it comes to the body of Christ.”
Discussion: How do you see personality profiles as playing a role in individual relationships and in ministry?