Getting to know yourself.
Personality profiles are helpful tools to grow relationally. They can help leaders become more effective. They can help people have more grace and understanding with one another. They can help individuals understand their calling more. A particular assessment, the Enneagram, seems to be very popular right now with business leaders and church leaders alike. Because we've been using this at The Well for a few years now, I wanted to share some perspectives on utilizing it, and other personality assessments, well.
1. Personality profiles can be useful to explain who you are but they should never be used as a means to excuse bad behavior. They might explain bad behavior but once we start down the path of excusing our bad behavior based on our personality, we are essentially hardening our hearts to sin. We shouldn't lord our personality profile over people expecting them to understand us more or to give us forgiveness for true offenses.
2. Another helpful way personality profiles can be useful is by painting a picture of who we are. Every profile has different categories and types. It gives you a more full idea of the complex and sometimes complicated people we are. However, it is not helpful to view yourself and others myopically within the type or profile. You see this when people talk about being introverted or extroverted as if that is the end all be all of their personality. Or, when speaking of the Enneagram, they will refer to themselves with only one style instead the of the multifaceted picture that the test provides with each style. Don't get fixated on the type as being a sort of aspirational person you need to become. Let the type or style that the profile generates for you be a helpful tool to reflect upon how God has wired you.
When we cast-type ourselves or others in certain styles, we box them in and limit the way God can work through people. Boxing people in doesn't honor the image of God in them and the beautiful way we are all individually made.
3. A third way to misuse the profiles and assessments is to take them as the gospel for your life. It's common to get profiles and assessments back and give them more credit than they deserve. At the end of the day, personality profiles are taking your answers about yourself and filtering them into categories. Your perception of yourself can be badly mistaken. You can have a very idealized distortion of who you are. It's even worse if we take the test multiple times because we can learn how to make the test generate the type of person we wish we were instead of who we actually are.
What do you think? How have you found personality profiles helpful?