by Nicole Kelp
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Enneagram. Strengthsfinder. DISC profile. Any of these terms ring a bell? Our culture is super obsessed with assessing our personality and giftings. While this may be as trivial as taking a Buzzfeed quiz to find out what Disney princess you are, it can also be as pivotal as assessing your spiritual gifts or character strengths.
There’s nothing wrong with knowing who you are and how God made you. In fact, at Resonate Church we love to talk about our Myers-Briggs, our APEST(1), and our Enneagram. This can help us know how God has gifted us to contribute to the mission, how to understand each other, and what motivates us. However, these personality and gifting assessments can become dangerous when we allow the enemy to lie to us. The enemy may tell us that we are defined by our personality and not by our identity in Christ, or that we are limited by our skill set and not empowered by the Holy Spirit. The worst manifestation is when people say, “I don’t have the right personality to be a leader,” and they bench themselves out of the game.
But God intends for us all to be in the mission and make disciples who make disciples. The Great Commission was given to all believers, not just those with the “right” personality or giftings. Everyone in the church is a part of the body of Christ and is supposed to work together to make disciples. 1 Corinthians 12 uses the analogy of a physical body to illustrate the body of Christ. Paul writes that the foot can’t just say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body.” Likewise, the eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” He says that if the whole body were an ear, there would be no sense of sight and the body would be incomplete.
How does 1 Corinthians 12 provide guidance as we fill out our next personality survey and interpret its results?
1. Don’t use your personality or giftings as an excuse
It’s so easy to say, “I’m not gifted as an evangelist, so I don’t need to share the gospel,” or “I’m not administratively gifted, so it doesn’t matter if my life is a disorganized mess,” but these are lies from the enemy. While it is true that some people are more evangelistically gifted than others, we are ALL called to share the good news of Christ with those around us. While it is true that some people are more administrative than others, our God is a God of order and we are ALL called to live into his likeness.
2. Don’t be prideful about your personality or giftings
This is something I personally have struggled with. I’m an ESFJ on the Myers-Briggs, meaning that I am organized and task-focused (S, J) but also emotionally aware and enjoy connecting with people (E, F). It’s so easy for me to compare myself to others and think things like, “Those ENFP’s are chaotic - I’m better than them because I’m more diligent” or “Those ISTJ’s are mean - I’m better than them because I’m good with people.” But these prideful comparisons are sinful and divisive. They don’t push forward the mission. Instead, I should think, “Praise God for making my friend an ENFP. They are flexible and able to respond to what the Holy Spirit is doing in the moment” and “Praise God for making my friend an ISTJ. They are conscientious and helpful servants.”
3. Don’t be insecure about your personality or giftings
Just like we should thank God for how he has gifted others, we should thank God for how he has gifted us. For example, many people who test as shepherds or teachers on the APEST may wish they were apostles who could easily take new ground for the Kingdom. But that’s the beauty of different gifts: they’re all supposed to work together for the fullness of Christ to be manifest. If everyone were an apostle, no one would be around to develop the ground that was taken. An apostle is not better than a shepherd, or vice versa. Don’t let the enemy tell you that you are less than or worse than someone else. Your gifting is important in the body of Christ. And ultimately, your identity is in Christ not your giftings.
Right after discussing different spiritual giftings in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul goes on to talk about the “most excellent way” to work in our giftings in 1 Corinthians 13. He says that it doesn’t matter what gifts we have if we don’t have love. And that is the most important principle to remember as we analyze our personality and giftings. We need to have unconditional, godly love for each other, regardless of our personality and giftings. Only then can we all operate in unity, seeking to be the family on mission that God has called the church to be.
APEST stands for Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher and refers to the giftings given to the body of Christ according to Ephesians 4. You can take the test to determine your APEST at fivefoldsurvey.com.