Using Personality Profiles

Understaning You.

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?

Emotional Ignorance

Emotional Intelligence has received an abundance of attention over the last few decades within leadership circles. It has been sold as a bill of goods that can make you more effective, increase productivity, and help you be more satisfied at work. Sounds good. When we think of emotional intelligence as followers of Jesus, it is important to remember that the gospel frees us to admit our faults and invites us to grow in grace. An aspect of the gospel is it's effect on emotional intelligence. So here's some helpful ways to think about EI:

Emotional Ignorance

Emotional Ignorance looks like experiencing something you don't like or that hurt you and promising to never let it happen again. This is not bad but it leads to the next phase where the ignorance takes root. You vow or promise to yourself that you will not behave in the same way without acknowledging your own inability to do so. This is how you begin to blind yourself. For example, you see someone boast about their work performance. You hate it. You have contempt for that person. You determine to never be that person. BUT, you don't acknowledge that you have your own struggles with pride and boasting in other ways. 

So then you develop an internal set of values which on its face seems good but is contrary to who you are. For example, let's say you are a gifted salesperson. Salespeople can tend to view the truth like a cake, you can shape it and craft it in different ways. It's malleable. So if you have an internal value of honesty but your natural gifting is sales, then you will invariable have self-contempt and you have started down the road to ignorance (blindness). You will eventually do one of two things: 1. You will expect other people with the same gifting to hate themselves like you hate themselves (and if you're a Christian you'll mask it with the phrase 'killing sin'). or 2. You will attack in others what you hate in yourself. You will do so violently and with reckless abandon and with the same distaste, displeasure, and disdain for the gifting that God has given you. This is at it's core hypocrisy. The sin that Jesus loved to highlight and destroy. This is why emotional intelligence matters. 

Emotional Intelligence

On the other hand you can be emotionally intelligent. You can acknowledge that you had a bad experience and suffered pain. You can recognize that this has shaped you without becoming a reaction to the pain. We are all formed by are pain and woundedness but it is the narrative we develop that shapes our emotional intelligence. You are able to admit and own up to the reality that your own value system is both a nurtured and natural wiring that is invariable affected by sin. Then you work to live out of God's calling for you so that you are consistent and not a walking contradiction. This enables you to give grace upon grace to those who you recognize have the same proclivities and woundedness as you rather than attacking them.

Emotional Intelligence looks like living authentically with your past which informs your present efforts to live out your future calling. You are aware of what has transpired and are able to admit it and walk with humility for how it might affect your calling in the future. 

A Well Balanced Meal

It has been well understood that a healthy diet consists of a variety of meats, vegetables, grains, etc. I really don't know because most of my diet consists of as many burgers as I can eat without feeling guilt and Chick-Fil-A. When thinking of being an online participant (of which you are if you're reading this post), it can be helpful to think of having a well balanced diet. You don't want to just consume what you like otherwise you become lazy and obese (unless you like vegetables, then the analogy breaks down and I'm not sure how to help you). 

You want to participate with a reasonable diversity of opinions to have a well balanced understanding of topics at hand. This the heart of the educational process and the opportunity afforded us who participate in the internets. That doesn't, however, mean force feeding yourself diverse opinions because somehow online participation necessarily dictates that you consume any and all forms of communication and information regardless of source. Discernment must come in to play at some point and so the question is how does one discern what to read. There is no rule that "one must follow 5 people with whom you disagree with on Facebook in order to be a good participant." So here are some helpful guidelines if you care about discernment. If not, have fun reading The Blaze and HuffPo.

1. Does the source, regardless of agreement with your positions, represent your positions fairly and accurately such that you would nod your head "yes" when reading? If no, then it's probably not worth your time. 

2. Does the source, regardless of agreement with your positions, represent your opponents position fairly and accurately such that your opponent might nod their head "yes" in agreement when reading?

3. Does the source display any regard for the truth being ascertainable? If no, then the source and body of content is meaningless because for them truth is inherently meaningless which leads to other questions such as why they would choose to participate in communication at all when grammar and language necessitate an agreement to definitions and said truth. But nonetheless, if the source shows an inability and outright denial that truth can be found, you might as well go clean a toddler's room during playtime because it'll be that productive. This last point could venture down the terrain of pre-suppositionalism (of which I am a fan but not a follower) but regardless feel free to use a pitcher of water on that four alarm fire but chances are you won't put it out and the fire will just get worse. 

As the search or even semblance of truth disappears, so does the ability to have any type of respectable and rational dialogue. If we were to argue about the best breed of dog, and yet you insisted that the wild cat roaming my neighborhood was included in the species canine, then we would not have a great deal of success. Rational discourse and dialogue must occur in the search for truth and believing it can be found. This is why our society continues to fragment and seems unable to even stand one anther's company. We cannot even discuss if men are men and women are women. 

What about you? How do you decide what to read and "consume" online?


Remembering Well

Remembering our past has the potential to erode our confidence in the present or strengthen our resolve. Nostalgia can make us feel shameful, bitter, and full of regret. However, thinking back on our lives can also breed insight and confidence for what is here and now. 

Kim and I at my granddad's cabin.

Kim and I at my granddad's cabin.


When we think back on where we've come from and what we've gone through, we can see God's grace at work in our lives. Even though we may not understand why we suffered in a certain way or went through a particularly difficult experience, we can see that it has made us in to who we are today. God placed friends or mentors in our lives during those times for whom we can be grateful. He has seen us through to today. Trails tend to produce character and dependence on God. We can chose to be thankful for God's grace in our lives.


When we think back on our lives, it should produce in us humility. We've all made mistakes and we've all strayed from the truth in someway (that's what sin is). We didn't get to where we are today because we've had it figured out but because God has worked in our lives despite our failures. We can look back on our lives and be humbled by all the help we've received along the way. Even when we were babies, we were dependent on someone else to take care of us; whether it was a grandparent, a mom or dad, a brother or sister. This should produce humility in us. 


As we look back at what we've been through, we should be able to gain perspective for today. Perspective allows us to think outside the box and not get tunnel vision. Many times the trials of today and this week seem pressing. This is what is commonly called the tyranny of the urgent. The demands in front of us seem crippling and force us to make decisions that may not be best. Looking back at what we've been through gives us hope and patience for the task(s) in front of us.

An Example

One of my favorite family traditions growing up was going to my granddad's cabin in the mountains. It was a place of retreat and peace. We also had a lot of fun. I think about these trips a lot. Many times, I can feel sad and depressed that I'm not able to go to the cabin as often as I'd like. I can become frustrated that I can't live the life I lived at the cabin every day. But instead of becoming bitter and full of regret (see Naomi) because of not having that, I can let that memory inspire me to plan well for future trips with my family, I can thank God I had those experiences, and I can be humbled by God's grace in providing such a wonderful place to retreat. 

Back Then

This time of year is acutely nostalgic for me. July meant Kanakuk, summer sports wrapping up, avoiding yard work, days in the pool, and trips to my granddad's cabin. So every year around this time, I begin to listen to music (see Dashboard Confessional and Michael W. Smith and Jimmy Buffet [don't ask me why we listened to tropical music at a cabin in the mountains]) that I had forgotten about. I begin to lag on yard work around the house. I start looking at Priceline deals.  I long to go somewhere else with a taste of life that's refreshing.

Me circa 2003 at aforementioned cabin. 

Me circa 2003 at aforementioned cabin. 

Remembering life back then can be both painful and healthy. God often calls his people to remember what he has done and remember from where they have come. Remembering is a godly thing to do. As disciples of Jesus, there are at least a few ways nostalgia can derail our lives rather than energize it. 


When we look back at our lives, whether it was this morning or last decade, we can give in to this feeling of shame. This sense that we screwed up or made a fool of ourselves. I'm not talking about healthy repentance; this is self-destructive condemnation. It's the feeling of embarrassment over who we were or what we did or what we thought that makes us say to ourselves, "you're so stupid." This is not a godly way to remember our past.


Looking back, we can see that there were a lot of hard times. Trauma and pain are unique to every individual and we all experience it. Remembering our lives can lead us to believe that God was not good to us. That he wasn't around. That he abandoned us. That kind of thinking leads to present actions grounded a false narrative. We will begin to think that we need to defend ourselves, protect ourselves, or attack others. We begin to believe that God doesn't care.


Many of my friend's parents, right before we all went to college, said that the next few years would be the best of your life. I remember feeling so sad about that idea. These were a bunch of adults living with the regret that their lives were, at that time, not as good or memorable compared to what it used to be. This sense of regret or loss over what we had back then adds nothing to life now but insecurity and frustration. For many of us, we have good memories of 'back then' but the goal isn't to get back then, the goal is to let the goodness of the days gone by energize us to live today to the fullest before the face of God. 

Nostalgia can erode life today, but it can also kick-start life. That's coming up next...

You Are What You Do

Jesus assumes that your actions flow out of your identity. That is if you are a baby, you cry. If you are a human, you reason and feel and act. If you are a dog, you bark. The identity we have in Christ is simply one that is saved. We have been saved. We are Christ's. We are in him. 

Our actions stem from this identity. However, there is an another aspect of our discipleship. That is, our actions also inform our affections. Our identity is something that can't change. But what about when we don't feel like we're saved? What about when we don't feel like loving God?

Love him still. God designed us to be whole people. Our actions aren't driven by our affections but instead our actions shape our affections. If I practice loving my wife, I will begin to love her more. If I practice sin, I will begin to love sin more. If I practice obeying God, I will begin to love him more.