Thursday, May 03, 2007

myers briggs (mbti) and ministry

i've always really liked the personality theory of myers-briggs. well, actually, not always. at first i hated it because i thought it boxed me, categorized me as something without first consulting me to see if i wanted to be categorized.

but now i really like it. REALLY like it. my ENFP friends still really hate it...and thus verify their ENFP description :) . it helps me in at least four ways....

helps me understand myself
helps me understand others and my relationship to them (especially my marriage)
helps me help people in teams understand each other (communication, conflict, etc.)
helps me understand whole groups of people and organizations

this last one is really interesting to me. it seems like you can really understand whole groupings of people by MBTI. this especially helps me understand christian denominations and churches. for example...
~churches that value emotional worship and future-oriented/inspirational teaching (charismatic/pentecostal) seem more NF.
~churches that value doctrine, tradition, and right teaching (baptist, bible churches, conservative presbyterian) above all seem more ST.
~churches who really value service and social justice (more mainline churches) above all seem more SF.
~churches who like ritual and other hands-on worship styles (anyone with icons, statues, candles, etc.) seem S.

(i'm just not sure where NT fits? i am an NT and i don't feel like NT fits anywhere...or better, it might fit uncomfortably almost anywhere :)

i know there's more to church groupings than that. (like socio-economics!) but this perspective really helps me understand groups more. i think ideally, the church shouldn't be grouped by personality types and gifting. but that's just how it is most of the time.

most conflict in church beliefs and between church leaders i think can be partially viewed through mbti. for example, in the emerging church, mark driscoll....high T....brian mcclaren....F. for that matter, it seems most people in emergent village, F, modern christianity, T.

here's a really weird thing to me: i believe that personality is mostly wired in us by God. so if we are drawn to certain beliefs, values and denominations because of personality, it seems like personality might predispose us in our beliefs. i'm still getting my head around that. in any case, this perspective helps me have more grace than judgement on those different than me and if it helps me love like jesus, i'm excited about it. i think if i ever wrote a book, it'd be on something like this.....

you can take a uncredentialed, free version of the test here....


Paul D said...

I think you're right about can see the thinker/feeler division VERY clearly from the mass of comments in response to the Out of Ur blog between McLaren and Driscoll on homosexuality.

As for the divisions in the church...I also agree that we shouldn't be isolating ourselves from our brothers with different gifts. The thinker/feeler battle really is along the lines of a surgeon and anesthesiologist yelling back and forth:

Surgeon: "we need to cut out the cancer!"

Anesth: "No! We need to numb the pain!"

Jesus: "You both need to back to medical need to do both!"

It has seemed to me that the Thinkers, especially the NT's, have the big picture in mind, have the right data, and know the truth...but often suffer from a stone-heart, having little compassion and mercy. The feelers need to trust the thinkers a bit more.

It also seems like the Feelers, especially the NF's (yes I'm a bit prejudiced towards the big-picture N's for leadership), understand people's goals, passions, and desires better...they are warmer and connect easily. They actually, gasp!, have AFFECTION for people beyond facts, figures, and programs. The NT's need to be gain the passion the feeler's have.

Alas, we don't trust each other's gifts...and we act as if we get to speak authoritatively on subjects we're not gifted in. We don't trust the leaders to lead...the pastors to shepherd...the teachers teach...the encouragers to uplift. Instead, it seems to me, leaders wish to claim expertise in all areas and. Not surprising considering the west's penchant for the "Independent Man", autonomous of all!

Sorry Luke, I think my comment was longer than the blog! Loved the blog though!

luke said...

i think you're really getting at something when you mention distrust. i think that the question becomes, how to build trust between different perspectives? is it possible to have a ministry that operates in all the gifts or values all personalities?

i think that a start is just to name differences....what are they, how do they play out in communication, in our decision making? those kinds of discussions seem to get the ball rolling. rolling where, i'm not sure...but rolling is better than staying still.

Paul D said...

I agree...I had such an experience with a friend who definitely has completely different gifts than I have. During leadership meetings, we'd really clash over direction and methods.

Eventually, we sat down and did discuss where we are strong and weak. It turns out that we were completely complementary in our gifts, we just had to learn to defer to the other's judgments when it came to their area of giftedness. Things were great after that.

Also...I hope you had/are having a good time in California. I didn't even know you were there until you emailed me back!

Later Bro.