At work recently, the staff received the results of their Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. A licensed person with MBTI was there to walk us through the results as well. While there are a number of copycat assessments available online to take, the official one is longer and more thorough.

In case you don’t know, you take the MBTI assessment and are given a four letter designation. The letters are designated from four dichotomies: E/I (extraversion/introversion) , S/N (sensing/intuition), T/F (thinking/feeling), J/P (judging/perception).

Thus, you are assigned one of sixteen possible assessments.

Often, people stereotype the various letters of MBTI results. This is due to a faulty understanding of what is extraversion (E) and introversion (I) (for example), or because they took a copycat test that doesn’t yield complete or factual results.

Because of generalities or stereotypes with a letter, or not understanding a full definition with a type indicator, people will make assumptions as to what their designation is.

When the test results came back, it was interesting to hear people find fault with their own results. I think there are a few reasons for this, some of which I shared with some of the staff in one-on-one conversations.

One big reason is I believe a number of people like to craft for themselves an identity, even if it isn’t a natural identity. A particular personality type may be more respected/valued in a workplace or culture, so they can buy into the identity they have made up for themselves. Yet, this isn’t who they truly are.

I went through recovery from addiction years ago, and one of the things I had to address in my recovery was who I was. I couldn’t pretend anymore who I thought I was, or who I wanted to be. I had to address me. Until I did that, I wasn’t going to get anywhere with recovery or my own spiritual/mental/emotional maturity or growth.

When I have pastoral conversations with individuals, one of the things I try and do is get them to take an honest look at themselves and their situations. If they don’t want to, then there isn’t much I can do to help them. The lie appears to be more comforting than the truth, but it’s fool’s gold.

Do you want to perpetuate something you are not, or do you want to start understanding yourself better so you can be a better you? It would seem some people would rather perpetuate a myth about themselves.

In the church, I see people let their ideal of a particular identity drive their decision making. It’s disappointing to see people who should know better let this happen. Again, the lie appears to be more comforting than the truth, even though it takes more effort to maintain the lie.

Of course, the flip side of this thinking is the individual who uses an MBTI assessment as an excuse for unhealthy behavior. (It may not be an MBTI assessment. It could also be someone who uses ADD or ADHD as an excuse for everything.) While MBTI show indicators to personality, it is not a license for extreme behavior in a particular assessment type.

There’s no need to lie to yourself. Yes, the MBTI assessment may yield surprising results, but embrace that. See what the data says. Don’t let your gut reaction be to retake the assessment, because then you’ll be biased in your future answers. You’ll results will not be as accurate, but maybe that’s what some people want.

“I do it this way, I take a page from Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death and I define sin as building your identity—your self-worth and happiness—on anything other than God.”

–Tim Keller

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