Have you ever taken one of those online personality tests?
I’ve been intrigued by these for years. The first one I took was in seventh grade in Bible class where I found out I was Sanguine, according to Tim LaHaye’s Spirit Controlled Temperament. LaHaye used the method developed by Hippocrates which teaches that personality is based on what overage of body fluid an individual has.
- Sanguine – blood (playful, inconsistent, creative)
- Phlegmatic – phlegm (supportive, sarcastic, practical)
- Choleric – black bile (dominant, aggressive, directive)
- Melancholy – yellow bile (shy, bookish, serious)
In college there was no change when I took it again – still playful, creative, and inconsistent. Although I’ve consistently tested as an extrovert, being the life of the party has never been my default. Fast forward another decade, I discovered a few more personality assessments that were much more dynamic and helpful.
DISC – This one still has 4 categories but gets an upgrade with updated language and helps place people vocationally.
- D – Direct
- I – Influential – (tested as a 95% “I” and pretty much nothing else)
- S – Steady
- C – Compliant
My wife and I took this one together 10+ years ago when we went through an assessment for planting a church. It was very helpful and has become a part of my everyday language. MBTi is based off of Carl Jung’s theory and has a total of 16 different categories with 8 letters.
- E or I (Extrovert vs. Introvert)
- S or N (Sensing vs. iNtuition)
- F or T (Feeling vs. Thinking)
- J or P (Judging vs. Prospecting)
Every time I’ve taken it I’ve tested as an ENFP. You can take it for free from 16personalities.com. I’d love to hear your results and what you thought of it in the comments section! There’s an interesting site called personalityclub.com that gives examples of historic and current people and their type.
After discovering this assessment I became a type enthusiast. It got to a point where I couldn’t shut it off. I would catch myself putting people in categories as a game. I later found that I was doing this to have a sense of control over my situation if I could wager what people would do in certain situations. The issues with this are many and potentially harmful. Here are two that I was faced with:
- I was wrong… a lot.
Just when you think you know someone… right?! When we have boxes or categories to put people in we remove the need to really get to know them. Even if I was right in placing someone as a certain type there are factors that can’t be covered by a 150 question assessment. Here’s a helpful video on what makes a person stand outside of standard type tests.
- Personality tests, although helpful, can also be highly subjective.
Each temperament has virtues and vices alike. One can develop an over-inflated view of themselves based on what perks come naturally to them according to the last assessment they took. The other aspect of that is feeling dominated by a vice with no foreseeable rescue.
With that in mind there are a couple of things that come to mind that a personality test can never give you.
- A Mentor’s, or Spiritual Overseer’s, Intuition I am where and what I am today because of a few key people that served as mentors along the way. If you don’t have someone that REALLY knows you and can help you to the next level, you’re missing out. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have one I want you to know that you need another one, and another, etc. You need a mentor at every season of life for guidance and solidarity. You may enjoy reading this one as well.
- Consistent Results
Even though some of these tests are mostly reliable, depending on when, where, or who you were with when you took it, the results can be dramatically different. A few years ago I helped assess other church planters in the same assessment center I had been at a few years prior. It was a joy to help people get to know themselves in that setting.
One guy and his wife got assigned to me as their coach. I knew this guy pretty well before the assessment and I thought I had him pegged. I wasn’t only off, I had him in my mind as the exact opposite of how he tested. It bugged me to no end that I wasn’t even close with this guy’s results until I found out that he may have had the help of a stiff drink on the night he took the assessment.
With all that, I still believe that some personality testing can be healthy. Lately I’ve allowed my spirit to become the manufacturing plant of self-doubt as I have so many times. As a Christian my identity is not what MBTi, DISC, Ennegram, or Buzzfeed says I am. The book of Ephesians says that I am the adopted son of God through Christ, and 1 John says that I am the beloved of God.
This changes everything.
Once a person is born again by responding to God’s offer of salvation by believing in Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in that person’s heart and becomes the X factor in personality.
I know that I’m supposed to believe what God says about me is true but there’s a difference in being and becoming. I have not achieved pro status as a Christian yet, nor will I until I move from this life to the next. Until then I’m a work in progress, as are you!