You are not your personality profile

Human observers

Something I’ve noticed as a result of reading a whole lot of leadership books in the past year or so is folks really, really love personality and skills profiles. There’s not just the Myers-Briggs anymore. There’s DISC, Predictive Index, StrengthsFinders, Enneagram, something about how strategic vs implementation oriented you are…

Sweet Christmas, there are a lot, and more on the market every day.

I actually think personality profiles are pretty helpful. They can help you navigate the quirks of your personality and work habits. To know what to watch out for in yourself (positively and negatively), while also doing the same for others. Basically, they can help you serve others well while understanding how God wired you.

Where I get a little nervous is when I see people using them in two ways. It’s been rare in the contexts where I’ve worked, but I’ve seen it happen, and I know that I’ve been guilty of it.

The first is getting too dogmatic about them. That is we get hung up on “I am” statements:

  • I am a Turqouise.
  • I am a 372.
  • I am a J-E-R-K.
  • I am Cookie Monster.

There’s a flattening affect to this, which is basically the equivalent of treating them like a horoscope. Being a Red, Tiger, or a 9 doesn’t mean you’re fixed in to a certain category. It just means you share certain traits with other people.

The second way is using these profiles as an excuse for how we behave. For example, one profile actually rates your ability to be detail oriented. If you’re not naturally bent toward the minutia, and you’re in a role that requires you to be detail oriented, you’re going to be stretched, but you still have to try. In the same way, if you’re more introverted (that is, you find being in groups of people wears you out), you don’t get to get out of being polite, or doing the necessary work of interacting with church members, customers, or whatever group of people you have to deal with (and this is definitely directed squarely at me).

That’s not what these are meant to be used for. They’re not meant to be tools for us to use to make excuses, especially about our weaknesses. Instead, I think a great way to see them is the way in which I do believe most were intended: to help us recognize our strengths and weaknesses. Todo the things we’re actually not good at in a way that is helpful for others. And most importantly, to honor the unique way in which God has made us.


Photo via Pixabay

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