Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fearfully and wonderfully made: Spiritual gifts & personality style

Awhile back I was involved in the planning and execution of a special study series in my church. The study was called MADE, and addressed finding your calling within your faith. It included taking a look at your personality type and spiritual gifts. As a result, my thoughts were turned to more clearly discerning my own giftings within the context of my personality style.

One day, a woman at work commented during a conversation that she viewed me as analytical. This struck me as interesting since she didn’t know me all that well. It also annoyed me.

I’ve taken several “personality” assessments; they’re fun. These “tools” always include a category of “analytical” and attach to it activities such as accounting, technical work, and other emotionless pursuits, most having something to do with numbers. I hate dealing with numbers, don’t consider myself emotionless, so have always rejected the notion that I am analytical. Being analytical just seems so cold and, well, bean-counterish.

However, days after the comment was made, as I was turning it over and over in my mind, wondering what about me prompted this assessment of being analytical, the light bulb went off! I was analyzing this comment in very fine detail!

Literally, at that moment (since I was alone at the time), I actually said out loud, “Oh my gosh! I’m analytical!!! When did this happen!?!?”

Many months later I’m still coming to terms with this insight and like to think of myself as warmly analytical. You know, I don’t really analyze things – I ponder them, or mull them over, or ruminate on them, or assess ... well, you get the picture.

The reality is that I’ve always been analytical, but until that moment, had never acknowledged this part of who I am. Now I also see how it impacts other aspects of who I’m not.

One thing I’m not especially is “spontaneous.” Why? Because that’s not who I am as an analytical person. There are times when I’m able to very quickly assess and respond to a situation in a way that appears to be spontaneous. But spontaneity is just not in my makeup.

Understanding my own personality and recognizing how God has gifted me helps me make choices that fit who I am. When it comes to working with others, getting a sense of their personality styles and giftings, and how the different styles conflict with and complement one another, is very valuable.

I believe God gifts us both according to our personality style combined with the needs of the moment.

My top three spiritual gifts are administration, wisdom, and discernment. Administration is consistently high. The others tend to shift a tad.

Based on DiSC, Myers-Briggs, and other similar tools, I’ve learned that I’m INFJ, as well as an introvert with A-type tendencies; kind of an AB. Mostly, I’ve learned that I’m flexible, often adapting my style to fit the situation.

Generally though, I love process and tend to be methodical when accomplishing tasks. I use lists a lot. I’m able to see order in chaos; I can see patterns in clutter which helps me move from disorganized to organized. Being able to envision the end result, I can patiently work through untangling the chaos. And I’m a muller: I will spend a lot of time thinking and assessing. At the same time, once I have a clear vision of where I need to go, I’m full speed ahead; let’s git ‘er done!

What about you? Or the people you work with? Understanding your own personality type and giftings, and being able to discern those of the people around you, can improve relationships and productivity, and increase your happiness.

There are several tools, many online, that can help you discern your spiritual gifts and understand your personality. Just Bing or Google “spiritual gifts” and “personality inventories” and you’ll find a ton.
Here are a few URLs to get you started:

Spiritual Gift Inventories. Take more than one and compare results:

Information on DiSC:

Information on Myers-Briggs:


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