What a Personality Test Can’t Tell You

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ENFP.  That’s my Myers-Briggs personality type.  It stands for: Extravert, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.

“Interesting,” you say.  Until you realize that for the past 14 years I’ve been operating under the assumption that I was an introvert!

How could I have been fooled for so long?  How could I possibly mistake myself being an introvert when I’m really an extravert?

My Mistaken Identity

I found the source of my mistaken identity in this line from my personality-type description: “Unlike other Extraverted types, ENFPs need time alone to center themselves, and make sure they’re moving in a direction which is in sync with their values.”

I’ve been mistaking my need to process in solitude for an introverted personality.  According to the description I am extraverted in the sense that I am externally-focused and I see people as stimulating.  Who knew?

I can’t help but wince at all the circumstances I’ve misjudged by thinking like an introvert when I’m really the opposite.  I hesitate to think of all the opportunities I missed by avoiding people in a misguided attempt to feed my inward orientation.

It turns out, all I needed was a little time alone to make sense of things.

The Advantages of Knowing Your Personality Type

There are advantages to knowing your personality type.  That is if you know your correct personality type.

Having a description of yourself empowers you.  I can name my strengths now.  ENFPs are inspirers.  They are good at perceiving where people are coming from.  They have an extremely well-developed value system that guides them in all situations.  This combination of strengths makes them great at motivating others and bringing out the best in people.

Understanding your personality type also allows you to address your deficiencies. For instance, I know I’ll never like a job that requires me to routinely perform the same set of tasks.  I need variety and interaction with people.  I also know that my tendency to get passionate about an issue or an idea means I get distracted easily so having a plan is essential.

Your Personality Type Doesn’t Define You

Yet as helpful as personality assessments like the Meyers-Briggs, DiSC profile, or any of the other tests can be, there is a danger.  The danger of letting a personality test define you.

For years I let one letter–the difference between an I and an E–influence me to an unhealthy degree.  I unwittingly began to define myself by a perceived introverted orientation.  I used this trait to dictate how much I interacted with others and how I chose new experiences.

The truth is, no assessment can truly define you.  You are more than a combination of four letters that sociologists have loaded with a set of generalizations.

Another Way to Define Yourself

The Bible says there’s another way to find your identity. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ” (Col. 3:3).  When you relinquish the claim to define yourself and give all that you are to Christ then you have died to yourself and your new life is enfolded into the purpose and plan of Christ’s life.

Having your life hidden with Christ means no personality test can define you.  It means that nothing else can define you either.  You are not defined by your pain.  You are not defined by your past.  You are not defined by your problems.

You are defined by Christ alone.  And Christ says that you are are a child of God.  “But to all who did receive Him, He gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12).  And, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3:26).

Knowing your personality type is helpful, but knowing your identity as a child of God is vital.  Learn all that you can from assessments, other people, and your own reflection.  But derive your identity from one place, from one person alone–Jesus Christ.

Question: Do you know your personality type?  (Click here to read descriptions of each type.) How has knowing your personality affected  how you see yourself? 

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