Introverts vs. Extroverts: does it really make any difference? Here are five reasons to study personality types.
As a believer, does it make a difference to know yourself better? Not a lot, in terms of knowing God, serving God, loving God and loving our neighbor. Either way, as God’s children, we keep on keeping on.
However, understanding how we tick — without undue navel-gazing — can boost our knowing, serving, and loving God, and our neighbor. And that’s no small thing.
I love the Myers-Briggs and you can take it online for free here. Or it’s worth getting a book, Please Understand Me! by Kiersey and Bates that includes the test. It’s been around awhile, but then so have personalities, and I’ve found it amusingly accurate and fun to do for the whole family.
You may be thinking: Why bother? Here are five reasons to study personality types, for the glory of God.
Why study personality differences?
I understand why I may be “blue” or exhausted, and I can do something about it.
I can make a smarter decision regarding taking on a new job or ministry.
I make more gracious “allowances” for others with whom I live or work.
I know where I might need to stretch myself for the sake of my family, ministry or work.
I learn to appreciate God’s infinite designing and creative power.
First, I can become “blue” or exhausted when I don’t talk to someone all day long or if I don’t have people interaction more than two days in a row. (I know. I’m an extreme extrovert.) My husband is the opposite with a capital “O” and sometimes I can forget my need to be around others in my desire to honor his bent. Taking responsiblity to changing my environment is being a grown-up, and if you’re reading this, you are a grown-up, too, and we all need to act like it.
Secondly, when I am offered a new job or considering a new ministry, I take my personality into account. If I’m required at a computer all day long or regulated to one end of the building without people interaction, I know it’s most likely not the best fit. I save myself and others some wasted time and maybe, some grief.
Third, when I remember that God made my Man-in-Plaid the way he is for His purposes, I can more readily accept our differences as being equal in God’s sight rather than the notion that I’m “better” in some way. Before I married my Mark, I made him take the Myers-Briggs. When I saw the results, I said in no uncertain terms: “Oh,no! I can’t marry that type!” He smiled and said, “Forget the test then!” (He may be regretting that statement at this point.) Thirty years and carrying on, and carry on we do. It helps to know the basis of potential disagreements. We’ve had some good conversations about our differences which instead of being conflicts, we’ve been able to speak the truth in love–and I love a crowd and he loves staying home!
Fourth, just because I’m wired one way, it doesn’t mean that I’m not to grow in another. Being strong in one area usually means I value that area more and can “dis” the opposite way to do things. That’s just silly (and prideful.) God wants us to serve Him and others, and that often means doing something that is NOT in our gifting, at least temporarily, so that we depend on Him and see His work in and through our lives.
Five, the more I understand myself and others, the more I wonder at God’s miraculous creativity. I mean, really. God loves my Man-in-Plaid-from-Iowa as much as He loves me (wonder of wonders) and He loves using you and I the way He’s made us. There’s room at the table for everyone because He’s the author of personality and His table is infinite–even longer than at Thanksgiving with three extra leaves and the broken-in card table added at the end.
Praise God for that.
Here’s the deal: learn what you can about yourself and others for the sake of loving God and serving Him better. And don’t use your weak side as an excuse to not obey God or love someone else.
A quick definition* may be in order because true Introverts are always telling me: “I like people. What are you talking about?”
It’s not the liking or the talking that makes the difference. Some of my most talkative friends are introverts. The difference is this:
“What gives you energy and what drains you?”
Extroverts: Being alone is draining, being around people energizes you.
Introverts: Being alone energizes you, and being around people drains you.
Since our youngest is a true Introvert, I decided not to do a college Growth Group in our home her last year in high school. She said, “Oh, Mom, it’s okay. I know how much you love it.” But it was easy to reply, “This is your last year and it’s your home, too. I don’t mind.” And I didn’t.
Use your self-knowledge for God’s glory this week and see what happens.
Thirty years and carrying on:
PS I might add a #6 to the list: we can celebrate who God made us when we understand ourselves better. My sister Lori and I will compliment each other and our other sibs and add “revel, revel…” My husband doesn’t get it, humble man that he is. But we Moore’s love how God’s made us and we quietly (or not so quietly) celebrate one another whenever we get together. (Our quieter spouses shake their heads and pray for patience.)
The Moore Sibling Reunion:
*As you read Please Understand Me, you will see that our Extroversion and Introverion is just one of four spectrums. All are helpful. When I was a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, all incoming missionaries were required to take the test – not so that they say, “Oh, you can’t be a translator because of your type.” No, everyone can do any type of ministry. But if you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can better work on what needs work. For example, the Introvert needs to get out of the hut and speak to the people to learn the language. The Extrovert needs to stop talking to the people, and go inside and write down what she learns. A balance, a self-knowing–for the glory of God.
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