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On December 1, 2014, I posted an entry, ‘Have you taken the Jungian personality test?’

I really wanted to get ‘Myers-Briggs’ into the title, but, as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) is given by administered by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT®), I was unable to do so.

The link to the Jungian test is on the HumanMetrics site HumanMetrics is careful to have a disclaimer on the test page regarding MBTI. However, with 72 Y/N questions, HumanMetrics’s test is a shorter version that still results in a person being given one or two four-letter acronym personality indicators.

Rightly, reader Dave Ellis reminded us of Carl Jung’s spirituality which had nothing to do with Christianity. Therefore, these Jungian and their later incarnation, MBTI, are un-Christian and to promote them is to stray from our faith.

I take his point.

That said, most reputable seminaries are heavy on MBTI. Most ministers who have been ordained in the past few decades will know what their score (acronym) is.

I discovered this whilst researching Adam S. McHugh‘s book Introverts in the Church. Clergy reviews, comments and MBTI disclosures were as follows:

Revd Dr Mark D Roberts (Presbyterian):

When I last took a personality test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and that was more than 20 years ago, I came out evenly split between extraversion and introversion.

Revd Jamie Arpin-Ricci (Non-denominational):

More than 10 years ago a good friend and fellow missionary scolded me for being a “recluse”, for being “selfish with my time” and “too inside” my head. Faced with this kind of harsh critique from a friend and brother in Christ in the past, I would have been crushed, either forcing myself to be “more social” or retreating deeper into solitude. However, neither happened because at that same time in my life I discovered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which helped me understand my own temperament. Not only did it affirm those things which were not flaws, but God-created characteristics, it helped me develop those traits in healthy ways. This was most true when it came to understanding what it meant to be an introvert. I have since used this tool to help people in spiritual, missional and community formation with great success. (For the curious, I am an INTJ).

(from his Amazon book review on November 7, 2009)

Revd Sean Lucas (Presbyterian):

As a confirmed INTJ (that’s Myers-Briggs personality speak for introvert, intuitive, thinking, judgment), I’ve struggled at time with my personality.

Revd Adam Walker Cleaveland (Presbyterian):

Technically, I’m an INFJ – the “I” standing for “introvert.” … When I did my psychological evaluation for the PC(USA) ordination process, I ended up being almost in the middle between being an extrovert & an introvert. In fact, I often find that when I’m in a group of extroverts, I become a bit more introverted, and vice versa when I’m in a group of introverts.

Revd John Chandler (Non-denominational):

My Myers-Briggs profile is INTP. (I have scored as an INTJ once or twice, but the INTP description seems to fit me the best.) Being an INTP means that I like to have as much data as possible before making decisions.

Revd Wendy Dackson (Anglican):

Although it sometimes made me gag how heavily we relied on the Myers-Briggs typology in seminary (and how it quickly became an in-group/out-group thing), one thing I think that would be helpful is if people were coached better on how to minister well and authentically from their preferred personality. Because I’m an ‘introvert/thinker’ rather than an ‘extrovert/feeler’, I was often seen as ‘cold’ by my peers. People who know me well think otherwise, but I think it’s superficial to say that someone who is more reserved and speaks less (but speaks thoughtfully when s/he does!) is less caring. How do we help people access their true selves, and manage to *be* good news from their natural tendencies?

Tomorrow’s post will examine the use of MBTI in seminary.


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