Sipping the Personali-Tea

Dear Christian Sister,

Personality tests are everywhere. Myers-Briggs is likely the most well-known. The Enneagram has worked it’s way into the work place and even into Christian circles. They can be a fun way to learn about ourselves and organize the world around us. They can be helpful in identifying areas of sin in our lives. But, when we start to rely too much on a personality type to find our identity or purpose, a few problems arise.

Personality tests, when taken too seriously or adopted into a worldview, can be harmful because they do not rightly orient us toward God. Learning about ourselves can very quickly point us away from God and lead us into self-worship. As a Christian, anything promising to help us find “self actualization” or our “best-self”, should stop us in our tracks.

Christ actually tells us to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27). We are to put on the “new self” (Colossians 3:10).

Another problem I see with systems of personality typing is that we often use our identified type(s) to excuse sin or lack of growth. We justify our own sins as “personality.”

When we say, “that’s just the way I am,” we are also saying that there isn’t room for change. As a Christian, however, we know that we are being sanctified continually. We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ with every breath, with every day.

Just because we may feel our type is an accurate description of who we are does not mean it is good, right, or true. And it is not an excuse to continue in your sin.

The other problem I have found with personality tests, specifically with the Enneagram, is that it has ties to the New Age movement. As Christians, is that something we want to engage in? (This is totally not the point of this post, so that’s all I will say for now, but it would make an interesting topic for another time. Click here to read a good article on the Enneagram from The Gospel Coalition.)

I don’t want to err on the side of legalism or liberalism. I want to err on the side of Scripture. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever take a personality test; I have my Myers-Briggs & Enneagram types listed in my bio. But the Bible has so much to say about who we are, and it should be the first and most authoritative place we should look to learn about ourselves in the context of God’s creation and redemptive plan.

In summary, I am not trying to argue that Christians throw out personality tests, period, no questions asked. My goal in writing this post is to help us to take a moment to examine our hearts. Do we rely too much on man-made tests to tell us who we are? To give us meaning & purpose? Do we let personality types dictate our relationships? Are we ignoring sin in our lives and allowing it to persist because “I’m a 5, that’s just how I am”?

Or do we turn to our Creator and His revealed Word? Do we find our purpose, our identity in the words of Scripture? Do we turn away from self worship and fix our eyes on the Lord? Do we ask the Lord to further transform us into the likeness of Christ?

For more on biblical identity, check out my previous post: Where Is Your Worth?