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Jaime Hlavin is back today with an insightful post on why getting to know yourself matters so much. I know you’ll enjoy it ~ John

According to a quick and unofficial Google search, there are approximately 2,500 different “tools” available to determine personality types, temperaments and tendencies.

These may include Myers-Briggs, DISC Profile, MMPI, the Four Temperaments, the Enneagram, the Four Tendencies, SHAPE Profile and The Five Love Languages, just to name a few.

At some point in your life you’ve probably taken some variation of a test to determine where you fall in the grand scheme of personality types, temperaments, and tendencies. It’s human nature to be fascinated by wanting to know what makes us tick. We want to truly know ourselves and others.

And if you’re anything like me, your test results came back, you read the assessment (strengths and weaknesses) and you said to yourself, “Ugh. I must be really annoying to everyone around me.” When I was younger, my tendency was to struggle with these tests because I wasn’t always particularly happy with my results.

I remember the first time I took a “personality test.” It was the Four Temperaments quiz. (That’s the one where the results render one Choleric, Melancholy, Phlegmatic or Sanguine. The first time I’d heard these terms was in 9th grade English while reading Romeo and Juliet. My teacher told us Romeo was a “melancholy”—and he was just awful. Mercutio, on the other hand was fun and delightful—and he was a “sanguine.”) My quiz results dubbed me a “melancholy with choleric tendencies.” Fantastic. Not only was I depressed and pining away like Romeo, I was angry about it. To make matters worse, my friend had taken the quiz along side of me and she was “sanguine.” Even better.

My second experience with a personality evaluation was in my workplace when I was in my early 20s. The company administered the tests to all of its employees. Later, when I put in for a transfer to a more desirable role within in the organization, I was passed over and given the reason that my “MMPI profile” was not a match for the position. That was less than encouraging.

So I trudged on, taking test after test in an effort to really know myself and figure out if I was as bad as the tests pegged me.  And I may or may not have from time to time rigged my answers to these tests to generate the results I thought a good leader or pastor’s wife should have. I didn’t think being an Enneagram Type 1 or ISFJ was “ideal” for these roles.

One time, while lamenting to a dear, safe friend the difficulties of being an ISFJ (heavy emphasis on the “I” for introversion) in ministry, she encouraged me. She said, “I don’t see that as a negative. You’re very aware of your strengths. And very aware of your limitations. That can only serve as a positive in ministry. You know what you can help with and what you’re unable to give.”

To quote Despicable Me’s Gru, “Lightbulb.”

As a leader, it’s important to know yourself because the layers of interaction become more complicated. Knowing what you are able and unable to bring to the situation is of utmost importance. Often, taking these types of tests and learning about the different aspects and nuances of personality types, temperaments and tendencies are helpful in developing our leadership skills.

John’s blog post from last week combined with the fact that I’m currently in the middle of reading The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, really got me thinking again about what it looks like to evaluate our personality strengths, weaknesses, temperaments, and tendencies from a positive point of view.

John talked about the questions that self-aware people ask:

  1. What’s like to be on the other side of me?
  2. What can I do to get better?
  3. Who can take the journey with me toward a better version of myself?

Finding the answers to these questions combined with truly working hard to know ourselves, and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work only He can, will give us clarity on how to fully offer ourselves as members of the Body of Christ.

I listen to author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. In episode99 of her Happier podcast, she talks about developing a deeper awareness of your own personality, temperament, and tendencies by encouraging listeners to take a variety of these types of tests (and she offers a vast list).

Her assertion is that knowing yourself well can only help you in your life’s journey. Obviously, some people are much more self-actualized than I am and are much more in touch with their personality, temperament, etc. without the use of outside resources. However, if you are someone who struggles with this, external assessments are excellent tools.

Truly knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your personality type can:

  1. Keep you from pigeonholing yourself into areas that you are not good at. (Conversely, it can help you to branch out into areas you’ve never explored before.)
  2. Allow you to be able to give yourself grace while letting the Lord work out areas that need adjusting.
  3. Show us how our personalities, tendencies, temperaments reflect the image of God. We are image bearers of Christ. I love this quote from The Road Back to You regarding personality types, “…when you are tempted to prosecute yourself for the flaws in your own character, remember that each type at its core is a signpost pointing us to travel toward and embrace an aspect of God’s character that we need.”

This is probably the most beautiful part of truly understanding our personalities, temperaments, and tendencies (and those of everyone around us). The Body of Christ is complex and nuanced. The more we appreciate that about ourselves and those around us, the better we will learn to function as leaders and as that Body.

I no longer resent my personality. I’ve learned to love it and allow it to serve my sisters and brothers. That’s my hope for each of us.

I’m rooting and praying for you!

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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