I thoroughly enjoy taking personality tests. More adequately understanding myself and others is something I deem quite beneficial, especially since I interact with a lot of different types of people on a regular basis. It seems I’m not the only one, either, because,
While seeking to understand more about ourselves isn’t a problem, using the tendencies that go along with our personalities as a license to do something contrary to God’s word is absolutely wrong.
When we use our personality as a crutch – justifying dismissive or lazy attitudes – we are contradicting Scripture. Yes, some personalities are more prone to being by themselves. Other personality types don’t interact quite as well with certain other personalities. But if we are using personalities as a license for behaving however we want, we’re sinning.
God’s word speaks repeatedly about transformation (perhaps most notably in Romans 12:1-2). While we were each born with unique personalities, those traits are now captive to Christ. We have submitted to His demands and are now busying ourselves with taking on “the mind of Christ.” In so doing, we are training our personalities to adhere to the gospel message. We are putting away our natural tendencies (toward quick tempers, dismissive tones, arrogance,
From experience, I can tell you that there are certain things that are harder for me because of certain traits of my personality. Keeping my facial expressions gentle and loving – that’s a hard one for me. Being meek and submissive? Also tough. Not holding grudges? Extremely difficult. But I have been called to a higher standard – to imitate Christ – and I must put off the old man and all of his temptations and tendencies. It’s hard, but overcoming is possible as I immerse myself in God’s word.
When we use our personalities as a crutch, we are hurting the church. We are hurting her head – Jesus. When we say “well, my personality doesn’t really respond well to that person, so I’m going to just avoid them”, are we acting like Jesus? Are we building up His body? When we say, “well, people just know my personality will say whatever comes into my head”, are we using our tongues like Jesus? Are we really being pure and holy in our speech? The examples could go on and on, but the point is this: if we blame sinfulness on a personality quirk, we are wrong. We are justifying what we should have put to death. We are holding on to the old man that we are commanded to keep dead!
I do want to say this before we close, though. Personalities are God-given. No, we shouldn’t all transform into one bland blob, making us all the same. Paul highlighted differences within the body of Christ as a beautiful thing (1 Cor. 12). But it wasn’t because the members were using their personalities as an excuse to sin. Instead, it was that they were reigning in their personalities (or handing over the reigns, really) to be the most useful for the Lord.
So instead of using our personalities as a crutch, we should instead use them as a catalyst for good works. We can do that by first examining what our personality-type is like. What kinds of things are you drawn to? If you are prone to being a go-getter – easily excited about new tasks and new people – use that to the glory of God! Encourage those around you. Do things without having to be asked or without having to be recognized. If you tend to be very introverted, don’t use that as an excuse to hide out, but instead realize it may mean that you thrive on writing notes, sending encouraging Facebook messages, or running a take-them-a-meal website from the comfort of your own home.
Whatever your personality may be, a requirement of being a Christian is to hand that over to the Lord. After all, God gave you your personality. Use it to glorify Him. He will not be glorified if we use our personalities to allow sin to set up shop in our hearts or if we allow our personalities to make us mediocre in our Christian walk. Instead, we must give Him control of our personalities, allowing Him to do the most good with us in whatever capacity that means.
Yes, it’s good to know yourself. We need to be able to identify our strengths so we can use them for the Lord, but also identify our weaknesses so we can keep ourselves from letting Satan use them. Our unique personalities are God-given and useful to Him. We just need to be sure we aren’t using such a beautiful gift as a crutch to hang on to sinful attitudes and convenient apathy.