Just a note before getting into this, I’m realising that there is a significant difference between personality and identity. While the world might make us think, we are by what we do, God doesn’t (this is a whole post in itself, coming soon). Here are the categories that I’m establishing:
Identity is about worth, importance and value. What is it that defines these foundational aspects of your being. Where do you get worth from? What makes you important? How valuable are you?
Personality is about the traits that describe your uniqueness. What are the characteristics that underpin how you act, think, or see the world? What makes you tick the way you do?
I forget that these two categories are separate and I try to pretend my personality are the things that seem important or valuable. Maybe that’s just my misunderstanding, but with all that aside, here’s the meat of this post
What are a few key characteristics you would use to describe yourself?
Maybe you’re asking yourself, why does this matter? It was only after I realised and owned the extent of my sinful nature that I started to understand what love is. God doesn’t love me because I’m perfect (or act perfectly), but he loves me despite my imperfection. Even though he is completely aware of my darkest thoughts, he still pursues me. The gospel made no sense to me before I realised how much I need grace.
Tests such as the “Enneagram” and the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)” have helped me to understand why I act, think and see the way I do (I’ve included links to tests down the bottom). I have been discovering that I have an inner world that effects me far more than I realise. When we start to understand the workings of our inner world, we can start to make changes.
More simply, self-awareness has unlocked doors to new depths of intimacy and relationship with both God and people.
My key characteristics
Here are a few I’m happy to talk about, and a few that I’ve tried to hide for many years. The list is vaguely from things I don’t like, to things I do:
(Editing note, I was going to share heaps more, but it turned out waaayyy to long. I’d be happy to share more in the future, or in person, if you’re interested)
When I’m talking about pride I mean “the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance”. Read arrogance, self-obsession, vanity, self-conceit, selfishness.
Keller talks about this as a form of Cosmic Plagiarism, “claiming to be the author of something that is actually a gift.” I see that my pride says that “things are done by me and things are done for me”. I read the first half of Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things” and not the 2nd “through Christ who strengthens me”
I reckon I’m generally pretty good at hiding this, but it weasels it’s ugly head into every decision that I make. This is partly why C.S Lewis says “It is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began … For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense”
How it works: I think I’m awesome, so I deserve everything, so I should do things that reward myself. Yet in all reality, my self-esteem is completely based on people’s opinions and is terribly insecure. I have this huge need to impress people and maintain this fragile image as someone that deserves to be liked (I’ve posted before about my tendency to lie).
Pride the very reason I started the post the way that I did. When it flares up in my life, I’ve already lost all sense that my identity is not found in what I do, or who people think I am. Service becomes self-serving and manipulative, vulnerability quickly shuts down.
I’ve written a huge post on this that I’ll hopefully share next week.
(This is a new one for me! I would have never used this word to describe myself before this week)
I’ve written before about satisfaction, the search to find ultimate fulfillment. But I have begun to see a deeply rooted desire within myself that automatically looks for satisfaction in things rather than God. To abuse good things, to search for more satisfaction in things than they were designed to give (I cannot limit gluttony as simply desiring excess food. Although I certainly do that anyway).
I find it extremely hard to be bored, to be deprived of stimulation and unsatisfied. When I am emotionally or spiritually unhealthy I notice that I am constantly carrying a screen around the house with me, watching Netflix, scrolling through Facebook or constantly listening to something. I procrastinate heavily from doing things that I know won’t be fun or exciting. Assignments get done at the last minute, washing never gets washed or hung out. I can even see this in my desires to keep my options open, I am one of those annoying people who don’t commit to Facebook events because I don’t want to miss out on something better.
Unfortunately, I’m seeing that I have a strong natural desires to avoid anything boring or painful. In the past, I know that I’ve dodged painful farewells, or avoided unpleasant conversations altogether.
Unorganised and lack discipline
No one that knows me should be surprised by this one. The last letter of the Myers-Briggs scale measures “our approach to work, planning and decision-making.” It uses the categories of Judging and Prospecting to reflect our styles, and I am radically one side of this spectrum. Here are some definitions:
“Judging individuals are decisive, thorough and highly organized. They value clarity, predictability and closure, preferring structure and planning to spontaneity.
Prospecting individuals are very good at improvising and spotting opportunities. They tend to be flexible, relaxed nonconformists who prefer keeping their options open.”
While I like that this test generally focuses on some positives, I really struggle with that first set of characteristics. I don’t like it because, when I am late or unorganised, it often communicates that “my time is more important than yours”. I find it extremely draining to plan detailed events (such as a wedding or honeymoon) and often miss important aspects of planning.
(Another new one for me and probably the other side of gluttony)
More and more I’m realising that I’m fascinated by everything. If I can see any kind of value in any topic, I’m quick to investigate it. I love meeting new people, learning new things, exploring new places.
I never want to miss out on anything because everything holds the possibility of something new and more exciting than the last thing.
I love new challenges and new jobs. I’d love to have the opportunity to spend a week in the shoes of every different career option. I love the idea that the world is full of limitless opportunities and I want to try all of them.
I love having deep conversations with people exploring the depths of who they are and how they think (one of the reasons behind this post). I find spending time with good friends extremely energizing.
I have loved the last 12 months of finding a new deepness in God. I’ve often thought that I knew it all, I’d experienced everything that God has for my earthly life, but I’m now seeing how foolish that was.
I was going to share more positives…
While I know this focused pretty heavily on negatives, I was going to share things like optimism, that I love people, that I’m teachable, but this post is already way too long. (I’ll be honest and say that I also find it really hard to speak about strengths and not feel arrogant. That’s totally my pride at work too. I care too much about people’s perception of me)
The (free) Test: https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test.php
The site itself is very new agey (the test is free though!!)
The test gets shorter with each page. Should only take 5-10mins
The (official?) Website:
It looks all fancy and has lots of information on it. Also has a “Compatibility with Other Types” section. It’s helped me significantly with some of my relationships!
I found this site to be pretty excellent:
These tests are not designed to define you. They are simply a useful tool for self-awareness. I get a little obsessed with this stuff and forget that my personality is not my identity (see the top of this post).
I hope that these are useful for you and help you see yourself more clearly. The first time I used them, I found them interesting but largely unhelpful. I think they are most useful for reflection and as a catalyst for conversation. I’d LOVE to chat with you about your thoughts on this one!
Ultimately, I hope these tests help you to see how amazing God is. If that sounds weird, lets chat!