Faith and Myers Briggs

I got sick of hearing about the Four Temperaments.  For a while there it seemed like everyone I knew was talking about it.  I didn’t like the way it seemed to lead to navel-gazing, and to fitting everyone in the world into one of four little boxes.

My view has softened a bit, especially since hearing Art and Laraine Bennett give a talk on their books, The Temperament God Gave Your Kids.

All the same, I’m more interested in what I’ve learned about the Myers-Briggs type indicator.  It allows for more nuance.  And since reading up on it, I’ve come to an amazing discovery:

Not everyone thinks like I do.

This helps me appreciate my husband more.  It helps me nurture my children.  It helps me to stop judging other people.  (Especially those with “P” at the end of their MBTI type.  As a “J” I tend to have little patience with “P’s.”)

But more and more MBTI helps me in my faith.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and just recently I found a passage in Magnificat that explains it all:

Our natural, spontaneous way of acting (and with religious people it can pass unnoticed when it seems harmless and neutral) is to live by what our feelings tell us is the truth of things . . . how we experience and perceive ourselves, others, events, and, of course, God.  We tend to judge ourselves (do we not?)–our prayer, our spiritual life, our progress–on how it seems to us, and we just assume this is the reality . . . .

Christianity stands on objective truth, not on subjective perception, intuition, reasoning or whatever, whether collective or individual.  . . . We Christians must look to Jesus, and to Jesus alone, for our vision of God, ourselves, others and the world around us. . . . And how different this is from the notions of God that the human mind and heart produce of themselves.

— Sister Ruth Burrows, O.C.D. (excerpted from her book, Hidden Spring)

Reading about my type (I think it’s ISFJ), makes me realize my “subjective perception, intuition, reasoning.”  I tend to cling to tradition, to shoulder responsibilities instinctively, to crave approval for doing the right thing.

This insight into my own subconscious has made me step back.  When I’m making a decision or even just forming an opinion or starting to get emotional: am I really basing this on reality, or my own distorted view of reality?

Of course, we all see reality through our own personality.  That’s unavoidable.  But it’s helpful to step back.

Am I clinging to habits and ways of thinking just because they feel right to me, because it’s my default?  Or am I going to Jesus first and going from there?

It’s really helpful.

And since I read this in Magnificat, I’m linking up with Jessica for What We’re Reading Wednesday.

13 thoughts on “Faith and Myers Briggs

  1. {fist bump}
    Right there with you sista.
    It’s almost embarrassing how often I lose sight of our Sweet Crucified Lord waiting on the cross. Like, hello Suzette, have you asked Jesus what he wants of you before falling down this rabbit hole of “what is right?! what do I do?! …etc etc etc…spiral spiral…dark….” Yes, hey Lord, you are Risen. You are. And I know He smiles gently and encourages me to seek Him (again and again).
    I place so many “right things to do” on myself that I totally lose sight of the big picture and instead am on this hamster wheel of doing what 1000 different friends say is the right way/ thing to do/ etc.
    Oy! Stop the crazy.

    “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
    Matthew 11:30

  2. My husband had to take MB in seminary, and wow was it revealing. Reading a page about his “type” was so helpful for our marriage since we are almost complete opposites. It’s also been helpful to his ministry since he knows to surround himself with plenty of J’s who can keep him focused and on track.

  3. Hey I just took the test and I’m ISFJ too. High five. My sister in law and I were just talking about this today – trying not to make snap judgments about people’s actions because of how I perceived reality – trying to be objective despite how it might look to me or how it might have affected my feelings. It’s hard sometimes.

  4. Hi! It’s been a long time and I owe you an email about the PHD, but in the meantime I couldn’t resist commenting on this post.

    I am a little too interested in the temperaments–I’m trying to tone it down from “obsessed.” And may I say your skepticism about the temperaments well befits a choleric (which I believe you are?) :). I took a MB when I was 15 or 16 at the behest of my sister’s psychiatrist and I came out INTJ. I’ve retested with various internet quizzes since then, and I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ve remained. However, I don’t find that description very helpful, as I know several other people of entirely dissimilar temperaments who tested the same as me. How could a melancholic choleric, a choleric, and a phlegmatic all come out INTJ? But I accept that other people find it helpful. For me, the classic four are where it’s at, and I’ve been studying them and their nuances for nearly a decade. I’ve even developed some of my own theories, based on purely anecdotal evidence, of course.

    And just so you know, it’s melancholics that make the world safe for civilization :).

    • I believe it that you melancholics keep the world safe!

      I think possibly the MB and the classical four temperaments each describe different aspects of a person, so there’s not a direct correlation, possibly? Another thought is that my INTJ husband seems phlegmatic until you really get to know him, but he’s really more melancholic, perhaps melancholic/phlegmatic.

      Apparently, the newer version of “Please Understand Me” (a MB handbook of sorts) correlates various MB types with the classic four.

      And it’s here that my head starts swimming and I stop. 😉

  5. I am with you here, I found much more success with the Myers-Briggs in comparison with the temperaments because I didn’t fall strongly in the temperaments, I felt middling in each of them, and thus, no help. But with Myers-BriggsI find that my decisiveness and judgemental-ism is a little more dealt with, I feel like I’m definitely a Thinker, Judger. Which helps a lot in understanding the sins you’re prone to or like you say, how you approach God.

  6. Pingback: Favorite Books of 2014 | This Felicitous Life

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