That Which Every Joint Supplies: INFP Christians

This is my third post in a series about Christians of different Myers-Briggs types. When you start talking with people in the churches, it quickly becomes clear that while we share a common faith there is quite a variety among us as well. Some of that has to do with background, some with the denomination we’re part (or not part) of, and some with personality. And if we want our churches to be a welcoming place for all people who seek to know Jesus, it’s a good idea for us to understand how different personality types relate to their faith.

Our walks with God don’t all look the same. We’re influenced by our backgrounds, variations in beliefs, and individual personalities. And even though the goal is for us all to become “like God,” that doesn’t mean we become indistinguishable from each other. God created great variety in people and I believe He did that for a reason. So let’s spend today’s post hearing from and talking about the unique perspectives of INFP Christians.

INFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.com

I heard from five INFPs who responded to most of the questions I asked. In general, INFPs are private people and I’m not surprised that the response rate was lower than what I saw for the INFJ post and the ENFP post I wrote earlier. One INFP who I talked with in-person said she wouldn’t feel comfortable submitting even an anonymous response. Still, I hope any INFP Christians reading this post will feel safe commenting and adding their thoughts to the conversation. I’d love to hear from more of you!

Bible Favorites

The first question I asked people was which Bible stories and characters they identified with most. There was very little overlap in specific characters INFPs chose as their favorites, though several of the chosen characters were prophets.

  • Patricia identifies most “with Jesus’ disciples Paul and John in the New Testament because they show both the values-driven determination and authenticity of my INFP personality.”
  • Boniface writes, “I suppose Isaiah, or Mary? perhaps Luke.”
  • Heather says, “I gravitate to Isaiah, Elijah and David because their styles resonate with some aspect of me. I find their deep convictions, poetry and symbolism moving and very applicable. I have always identified with the story of the woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair.”
  • Dara chose a rather unexpected character: “As weird as it sounds, the character I totally relate to the most is Gomer in the book of Hosea. She never realized what she had, messed it up multiple times, and still received unconditional love.”
  • Brian writes, “I love Enoch and Elijah because I am always baffled by the fact that they were taken up and allowing them to avoid death. I always ask myself. What did they do that God just wanted them. I know we an read more on Elijah than Enoch but these two are very interesting to me. I can’t say I really have a favorite. I find interest in a few that aren’t really talked about. Lazarus being one of them. How deep was his relationship with Jesus. Jeremiah. How did he endure all those years telling Israel to turn from their ways.
    I think though. From very little. The prophets have grabbed my attention the most.”

Brian is also the first person I’ve heard from who had an easier time picking out favorite books than favorite characters. He writes, “My all time favorite books for sure are Proverbs and Revelations. Definitely the wisdom books and the books of prophecy. But those two are my favorite. Proverbs cause I can just find so much to apply to my life to grow inside as a person, mentally, spiritually, intellectually. … Revelations for its lively metaphorical (or real) descriptions of whats to come, celestial, and spiritual beings. It paints such wonderful pictures for me that really differ from reality (our reality) and it fascinates me. My friends are personally scared of this book in particular and I can see why but its such a mysterious frighting window that I love to peak through.”

Gifts and Talents

On the whole, INFPs don’t seem quite as worried about finding their particular niche in the church as other types I’ve talked with do. I wonder if this has to do with the fact that Introverted Feeling is their “driver” process. Also called “Authenticity,” this mental process is more concerned with staying true to one’s own convictions than meeting outside expectations. Perhaps if INFPs believe they understand how they best fit into Christ’s body they don’t feel so much pressure to discover how others think they’re “supposed” to fit in.

INFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.comHeather writes, “No, I do not feel under appreciated. I feel that I am needed in the body in the same way that my neighbor is.” She also talked about each of us having “different functions” in the body and didn’t seem worried that her particular gifts would be overlooked. Similarly, Boniface, a Benedictine monk, wrote that he didn’t really feel like he was missing opportunities to use his gifts and talents because “God finds a way.”

Dara and Brian both talked about using creative talents in their churches. Dara sings and Brian is an artist. Brian’s main frustration in the area of gifts and talents is feeling that “the arts and creativity isn’t very, not accepted but looked at as an essential gift in my church.” He wishes more people would realize that all the arts require “a lot of thought, set up, and practice.”

Patricia and Boniface both mentioned teaching and prayer as talents they have an opportunity to use in the church. And though Patricia is reluctant “to get involved in the planning or carrying out of church activities because of past negative experiences with church politics,” she feels that being an introvert and an intuitive “helps with evangelism. I feel like I can predict how a non-believer would respond to God, and how God would move in his or her life if given the chance.”

Connecting With The Church

Two INFPs mentioned that the expectation to be “outgoing and socially active” is draining for introverts. But by and large, the INFPs I talked with didn’t have complains about the church not being a good fit for them. In fact, Heather wrote, “I think the church, is about being members of the body each intentionally having different functions. …  I don’t think the church needs to conform to my personality preferences.” This is a common theme among INFPs. They don’t feel that it’s the church’s responsibility to “make room” for them. That’s why I chose Ephesians 4:16 as the title scripture for this post. INFPs truly believe that the church needs every member and they seek to find their authentic role as one member of Christ’s body.

INFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.comWhen asked how the church could better connect with someone like you when preaching the gospel, Boniface wrote, “Not sure. I think it does a pretty good job already.” Patricia elaborated, saying, “I don’t think that the church needs to make an effort to connect with me, but that is my personal responsibility as a Christian to make an effort to connect with the church, imperfect and diverse as it is.” Wow. If more of us had that attitude, I doubt we’d have so many people feeling alone in their churches.

As for connecting with non-believers, Patricia writes, “I think that this is the strength of having diverse church members who can, in their own way, share God’s love with others.” I’ll whole-heartedly second that opinion. It’s one of the reasons I started this series — to help draw attention to how good it can be to have a personality-diverse church where everyone’s unique gifts are appreciated.

Giving INFPs Space

Just because INFPs feel it’s their responsibility to connect with the church doesn’t mean the church shouldn’t also work on making itself a welcoming place for INFPs. God has created great variety in people and encourages a diversity of gifts and talents in the church, so we should as well.

INFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.comLike most introverts, INFPs feel most comfortable at churches that give them space for reflection and time to learn on their own. Patricia and Brian both mentioned that they learn about God’s word best when they’re reading alone. When they do come together with other believers, INFPs tend to prefer quiet settings. Two INFPs who wrote to me talked about enjoying quiet prayer time and the music service best. Another said he would prefer to have “more strict rules on the respect the house of the Lord needs. No phones, and no talking.”

Boniface specifically mentioned that “aggressive, in-your-face preaching” is not a good way to reach INFPs. Brian also said, “I love a preacher that isn’t screaming the word into my ears,” but added “I think as long as the preacher is anointed by the spirit, the spirit will call my spirit.” INFPs tend to have preferences for a certain type of church service, but they’re also open to learning from any teacher who seems to be sincerely following God.

Fighting For The Faith

Everyone who’s a Christian faces challenges as they try to follow Jesus. Only four INFPs responded to this question so I hesitate to make any broad generalizations for the whole personality type. However, three of those four mentioned some kind of disconnect from God as a struggle (the fourth mentioned socialization with people in their age group, a fairly common challenge for introverts like us).

Boniface writes that “being faithful” is his biggest challenge as a Christian. Patricia says, “When I go through bouts of depression in response to stress in my life, I lose sight of who God is (God’s continual provision for me, and the hope that He gives me simply from being present). I do not become angry at Him, or unaware of His presence, but I become distracted and confused in my own negative feelings.” And Brian mentioned that he deeply identifies with Paul’s struggle in Romans 7:15-20.

Brian also added another challenge, saying he has difficulty spontaneously talking with someone about the gospel. He writes, “I would love to tell everyone but don’t want to seem like I’m forcing anything down. I respect people and their current beliefs, but I feel like the times we are in today don’t allow for much growing in what is correct. It’s more of a ‘live, and let live’ sort of moto for the world now and no one really wants to be told they’re wrong.” That’s something I’ve struggled with, too — finding the confidence to stand up for your belief in God’s truth in a way that connects with people rather than driving them away.INFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Why They’re Christian

For all the posts in this series, I’m not going to try and fit the answers to “Why are you a Christian?” into a few neat paragraphs. Rather, I’m quoting from each of the people who responded to my original post so they can tell you about their faith in their own words:

  • Patricia: I think that there are many factors affecting my growth as a Christian (supportive parents, Christian friends, living in a country with freedom of religious expression), but as for why I am one in the first place – it is hard for me to say. I can relive the events almost a decade ago that lead to me praying for God to be a part of my life, and the resolve I felt afterwards to commit myself to him, but that circumstance then was not the reason why I am a Christian today (in a similar way in which simply being born into a culturally Christian family does not make an individual child a Christian). A Christian is someone who has the Holy Spirit living inside of them and working in their lives. I know that I am one (perhaps intuitively), and maybe a sensor or thinker could point how it plays out in my life tangibly, but I don’t pay attention to that. I just trust in God’s sovereignty, and carry on with my life, with hope that He knows best for me, and thankfulness that He is a part of my life.INFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.com
  • Dara: Science. Everything points to creation, despite what the world says. Furthermore, I’ve met God, and he’s met me in my darkest moments.
  • Brian: I was just listening to a teaching on this today actually. I agreed with all of it. I cannot NOT believe after what I have been taught and read myself. After questioning and doubting God and God revealing himself to me in many ways. I love him because he first chose me, and if he first chose me then what “choice” do I have against that.
    Simply, I believe, because he has called me to believe.
  • Boniface: History of the Church and its survival and growth in every century. Despite every human weakness and sin. My own experience of encountering good Christians, and through them coming to know the Lord.

Your turn! If you want to share your Christian INFP story or talk about INFPs in the churches, comment here! And if you’re a different personality type looking to contribute an upcoming blog post in this series contact me or head over to the original post. I’d love to feature you!Send Me Your Stories: Christianity and MBTI Types | marissabaker.wordpress.com

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Thinking vs. Feeling in INxJ Personality Types

Because INFJs and INTJs both use Introverted Intuition as their favorite mental process, the two types can appear very similar. Quite a few people who take a Myers-Briggs test and get either of these results (or both on different tests) are left wondering, how can I tell whether I’m an INFJ and INTJ?

My personality type is INFJ and my sister’s is INTJ. It would be well-nigh impossible to assume we share a personality type, but if you don’t have that contrast living with you (or if you’re a little less extreme on your T/F preference) I can see how deciding which type is your best fit could be a challenge. INFJs and INTJs lead with the same mental process and they react in very similar ways when stressed out. The main differences between the two types have to do with how they handle their Thinking/Feeling preference.

INFJs use auxiliary Extroverted Feeling as their copilot and support it with tertiary Introverted Thinking. INTJs use auxiliary Extroverted Thinking as their copilot and support it with tertiary Introverted Feeling. The auxiliary process is how they prefer to make decisions and interact with the outer world, but they can slip into their tertiary quite easily. It’s not as well developed or as reliable, but it can seem comfortable since it’s introverted (just like their dominant intuitive function).

How comfortable each INFJ/INTJ is with their thinking and feeling processes depends on a number of factors, including age, environment, and past experiences. You can find INFJs who are very people-oriented and social, or INFJs that seem distant and logical. Similarly, you’ll meet INTJs who are stereotypical blunt and calculating, and INTJs who are comfortable experiencing their own emotions. Even so, the way these functions shows up looks different for each type.

My Cup of T

An INTJ’s Thinking side is focused on the outer world. It’s also the function they’re most comfortable using when making decisions. While mature, well-balanced INTJs will take the human side of a question into consideration, it’s typically secondary to finding the most logical, fact-based solution. Personality Hacker calls this mental process “Effectiveness” and says it “focuses on impersonal criteria for making decisions” and prioritizes efficient problem solving.

INFJs, on the other hand, use an inward-focused Thinking process and they’re not usually as comfortable with it as they are with their Feeling side. Personality Hacker calls Introverted Thinking “Accuracy” and says this function gives users “the ability to reason through a subject or concept within one own’s understanding, even if it doesn’t match ‘outer world’ data.” Basically, this process is trying to work through things until they make sense.

INTJs are much more likely to express their Thinking judgements externally than an INFJ. They’ll often seem more blunt and direct because efficient communication is more important to them than worrying another person’s feelings. INTJs are also more likely to draw on objective, external facts to support their ideas. They want their ideas to work and they want outer world validation for their problem solving. That’s not nearly as important to INFJs, who need things to make sense personally more than to the people around them.

Thinking vs. Feeling in INxJ Personality Types" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

spotted this on Pinterest and I love it

Feeling The Feels

An INFJ’s Feeling side, like INTJ Thinking, is the function they use most comfortably when making decisions. It’s also outward focused, but it’s primarily people-oriented. Personality Hacker nicknames this function “Harmony” because it “makes decisions based on how things are impacting people on an emotional level.” The key thing to remember about this function is that it’s outward focused. INFJs are more in touch with other people’s feelings than they are their own.

INTJs use a Feeling process that’s introverted, which Personality Hacker calls “Authenticity.” While it’s also concerned with how decisions impact on an emotional level, it’s focused on one’s own emotions rather than other people’s. To again quote Personality Hacker, “Introverted Feeling is about checking in with all those inner parts and voices to determine what feels the most in alignment with oneself.” Somewhat ironically, the stereotypically cold and logical INTJs are often much more in-tune with their own feelings than the stereotypically emotional INFJs.

INFJs are more comfortable expressing feelings in the outer world and also more likely to pick-up on what other people are feeling. They’ll typically seem much more empathic and expressive than an INTJ. An INFJ who’s comfortable with their Extroverted Feeling side will also appear more social and “extroverted” than a typical INTJ. But INTJs are far more in-tune with their own emotions than most people (and many type descriptions) will give them credit for.

INxJs In Real Life

Even after you know about the technical differences between the ways INFJs and INTJs use thinking and feeling, you might still wonder they show up in real life. Let me give you some quick examples.

  • When making an everyday decision — an INFJ’s first impulse will be finding what makes as many people as possible happy, while an INTJ’s first impulse will be quickly finding the most logical answer. For me and my sister at least, the INTJ has a much easier time making simple decisions without overthinking them than the INFJ does.
  • In a stressful/emergency situation — I’m the one who’s in logic mode and my INTJ sister is the one indecisive and unsure. We’re talking something that calls for quick action and is stressful enough to push you out of your most comfortable mental processes (such as deciding to take someone to the hospital), Might not hold true for every INFJ or INTJ, but it’s an interesting observation I’ve made.
  • If asked to change their minds — an INTJ is most likely going to stick with what they’ve already decided because they know their idea is based on logic and that it feels right to them. To change their mind, you’ll need to present a fact-based counterargument that matches their deeply held beliefs about what’s right. An confronted INFJ will second-guess themselves because now they know someone isn’t happy with what they chose but they’ll also be reluctant to abandon something that makes sense to them. To change their mind, you’ll need to present an argument that hits emotion as well as logic.

I hope this helps you with telling the difference between these two types If you can’t tell if you’re an INFJ or and INTJ, looking at the differences in Thinking and Feeling functions is a good place to start figuring out your type. You’re not going to be a perfect 100% fit for every description of any one personality type, but there should be one that’s a “best fit” for your personality.

Your Turn: What are some differences and similarities you’ve noticed between INFJ and INTJ types?

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All Your Heart, Mind, and Soul: ENFP Christians

This is the second post in a series talking with Christians of different personality types. When you start discussing faith with different personality types, you notice not all the personalities feel equally valued and understood in Christian churches. If Christianity is a faith meant for all people why aren’t we doing a better job of connecting with all personality types?

Our walks with God don’t all look the same. We’re influenced by our backgrounds, variations in beliefs, and individual personalities. And even though the goal is for us all to become “like God,” that doesn’t mean we become indistinguishable from each other. God created great variety in people and I believe He did that for a reason. So let’s spend today’s post hearing from and talking about the unique perspectives of ENFP Christians.

ENFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.comIdentifying With The Bible

While some ENFPs have a favorite Bible character, others couldn’t pick just one. Charity said, “I don’t really ‘identify’ with any of them, since we’re different people who have had different experiences, but my inner feminist always liked Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, and Jesus telling Martha that she was where she should be (instead of preparing food in the kitchen!).” Dorien said he couldn’t choose just one and identified more with some during different seasons, “But I love the characters who experience the Love of God very deep: The woman trapped in idolatry. John – with his intimate relationship with Jesus. David – which name means The Beloved and was still chosen, even when He made mistakes.”

Personally, I’ve always found Peter very relatable and wonder if he might have been an ExFP type. I was glad to see two ENFPs list him as one of the characters they relate. Rielle elaborated on Peter the most, saying, “I can relate to him often not thinking (or seeming like it at least) before he speaks.” She also likes the way he “gets so involved in everything and is just so interested in what Jesus says.”

Other characters mentioned included Moses (because he did so much for the people and they still betrayed him by worshiping idols), John (because he writes in metaphor), Joseph (for his clever tricks and forgiving nature), David (because he was impulsive in action like Peter), the other psalmists (who, as Dani wrote, “are not afraid to enter those dark places of despair, grief, and shame”), and, more humorously, Noah who an anonymous ENFP said they liked because after the flood “He landed in what is now northern Italy and started a vineyard, THAT I can relate to highly!”

Finding Their Niche

I’ve been asking people of every type whether they have gifts or talents that are particularly encouraged or discouraged in the church and so far, ENFPs have given me the most varied answers. One said none of of their gifts or talents are appreciated. Others could point to specific gifts that the church supports, including Dorien (who currently serves as a missionary in Cape Town, South Africa).

ENFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.comTwo ENFPs wanted to talk about how we define the church before answering the question. Charity wrote, “I consider ‘the Church’ to be the collective Body of Christ, which is the Believers on the whole; so simply by being alive, and pursuing that which interests me and glorifies God, I’m participating in the Church on a daily basis.” My anonymous respondent said, “The Church is used I think WAY to much for ‘Look at me’ ‘Look at what I can do’ mentality. Our gifts are to be harnessed in our own lives and if it is needed at a certain time in the Church community then God will present the opportunity and how ones strength can help someone and how we can learn to be humble more.”

Specific gifts that ENFPs mentioned include connecting the dots to arrive at unique insights, ministering to people who are “different,” evangelism, the gift of mercy, hospitality, lifting people up in prayer, working with children, and teaching. They seem to gravitate towards interpersonal gifts and think outside traditional “church boxes” to find ways to serve.

Two ENFPs mentioned that their artistic gifts are not appreciated in the church, but neither seemed upset by that. Charity wrote that she sometimes feels “‘stifled’ by what is ‘expected’ from a Christian novelist,” but doesn’t let that hold her back. Anonymous said she knows her gifts for art and design aren’t really supported by the church, but doesn’t see that as an issue because “that is not the focus we need now in the Church.”

Interacting With Others

Though intensely people-oriented, ENFPs aren’t always social in the  way your average Christian church group expects. Most seem to ascribe this to their questioning nature. They’re not the type of people willing to just accept something because “that’s how it’s always been done.” And in Christian churches, asking questions is often seen as a rejection of sound doctrine or a threat to authority. Charity mentioned that although she might seem like “your average Christian woman,” she “can’t seem to help questioning EVERYTHING.” Rielle said, “I can see many sides to something, and then get very attached to them” only to be told her views “aren’t exactly in line with how most people interpret the Bible.” She also mentioned that on controversial topics, “I’ll actually contradict myself for hours.” Like many intuitive types, ENFPs want the freedom to discuss different sides to important questions and get a back-and-forth idea exchange.

When asked, “Are there expectations from other Christians that you have a hard time meeting because of how your mind naturally works?” responses ranged from “That depends” to “Oh, yes.” Dani said, “I have definitely seen how Christians can be more judgmental or misunderstanding about my seemingly contradictory personality. … People presume I am shallow, flirtatious, an attention-seeker, and flighty. And I always feel like I have to go the extra mile to prove that my convictions are real, deep, and near and dear to me. I love to be fun-loving, I love small talk, but I also know how to take seriously what really matters and I enjoy deep, meaningful, intellectual conversations maybe more than the superficial small talk.”

ENFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.comThis is an unfair, but common, representation of an ENFP personality type that they can’t be taken seriously. One friend told me that people he’s known for years are still surprised by his commitment to living out his faith even if they’ve had conversations about it several times before. That response can come from people outside the church, but it also happens inside the church. Especially if you’re not fitting in with gender stereotypes. Anonymous writes, “I am always loud and outgoing looking for adventure and always know a lot of people. I remember also being told I was too loud for a woman and I knew too many guys (when really the guys had more adventures and had less drama following them).” Charity touched on this as well when she said, “I’m not the person who will show up on your porch with a casserole when you’ve lost someone and hold your hand and cry with you; I’m the person who will sneak over the back fence a few days later with a “cheer up box” full of stuff, and will want to just be with you.”

Another thing several ENFPs mentioned was that they’re drawn to people the church as a whole would often rather not deal with. Dorian moved from Holland to South Africa as a missionary and now walks “with girls who are on their way to their drugsdealer. Or I sit with the sexual broken. Or in prison.” One of my ENFP friends has talked with me about having quite a few friends who are gay, lesbian, Wiccan, or atheist. Anonymous went into more detail, saying,

“I have many friends who are Buddhists, Gay, Bi, Atheists, you name it, and I learned so much MORE Christian behavior than I learned in the Church as well have been more openly supported by. As they have a gift that we as Christians of today fall short of….open mindedness. They don’t care of ones past or anything that are issues in the Church, if you are true to friends and yourself that is all that is needed. I have an example for those that might read this and argue my point but one of my friends boyfriend at the time were sitting together and I was texting her (we where having an argument) and he looked to me (he was an Atheist at the time now Buddhist) and said ‘I thought you where Christian, are you not supposed to be peacekeepers, why are you continuing this?’ He didn’t say it in a mean or egotistical way but rather supportive. It hit me hard as he was right…what was I doing? And this moment solidified as well for the people that shut me out or other people in the Church for being too Worldly…and banning all relationships with people out of the Church. How are they perceived? If we are to help and teach these people in the world tomorrow…they are going to remember those ‘Christians’ and how they treated them and ask them ‘I thought you are a Christian?’ And it hurts as the more people go about this train of thought the more they have to go through that moment in the worst of time possible.”

Connecting With ENFPs

Though it’s hard to generalize what sort of teaching style works best for people within a personality type, there were a few commonalities I noticed among the ENFPs who shared their perspectives with me. They want to go deeper, they want to be challenged, and they don’t want their faith confined to a church service.

Charity wrote, “the most powerful spiritual moments I’ve had, or the things that hit me most, weren’t said in church on a Sunday morning, but bled from a writer or filmmaker’s pen and slapped me across the face with sheer truth, beauty, or holiness. (And some of those writers weren’t even Christians.).” Also stepping outside the box, Dorien writes, “I am more into being, than into doing. My times with Jesus are being. I am not working by having beautiful prayers or that I have to read a chapter from the bible. I just be. That is not always appreciated. I feel from religion I have ‘to do more’.”

Several ENFPs mentioned they enjoy interactive groups. Dorien, Rielle, and Anonymous all said they would like the chance to talk about the Bible and learn from more than one person. The only concern one had was that “with so many people pushing their one and only views it might turn more into a debate now a days rather then an open minded discussion.” It’s very important to ENFPs that what’s being said, either in groups or from the pulpit, is rooted in scripture. They don’t mind discussing alternative interpretations of the Bible, but they don’t want people pushing something on them that’s not a sound Biblical teaching.

ENFPs don’t fit the stereotype that Feeling personalities aren’t intellectual. In fact, Dani wrote, “I actually prefer more intellectual preaching styles. Expository exegesis is probably my favorite format of preaching, the sermons that preach directly from the Bible and expound on the context, meaning, and application of a specific passage, chapter, or book of the Bible.” She’s not alone. Anonymous has been enjoying a book/study series by a minister that “goes paragraph by paragraph and explains in minute detail of all the chapters in the Bible.” Holly prefers preachers who present “Well researched information that is fundamentally rooted in human relationships.”

Another thing ENFPs are seeking is connections within the Bible and between their own lives and scripture. Dani said, “I am a big-idea thinker and I love to see connections between pretty much everything.” Rielle adds, “I love drawing links between things, and I love stepping back to look at the big picture of the Bible.” Dorien asks teachers to “Go a little deeper! Deep a topic out. Make it personal: what does it mean for you as preacher? Where can I connect with you?  … And maybe: listen to me and people like me.”

If you’re trying to reach ENFPs in your congregation or outside, it’s vital to focus on faithful preaching in a way that engages both intellect and emotion. And for ENFPs to feel safe and thoroughly welcomed in a group, we need to give them a chance to share their ideas without condemnation. Intuitive types are always asking “What if?” questions, which some churches see as threatening. Before assuming an ENFP is veering off into heresy, approach their questions and thoughts as discussion starters and see where the conversation goes.

“The church could probably connect with me better by allowing me to fully express my thoughts without thinking I’m being judged (although that’s mostly on me, articulating things in a confusing way and always wanting to please people and take things personally). Also I wish we had more time to just talk about anything and everything, and I wish I could connect with more people. Also, I think the church should cater for every type too, especially intuitive types as I think it is fairly sj-dominated as a whole, and np’s and others exist as well and everyone as desperately needs God as anyone else. Maybe bible study groups by type every now and then? That could be interesting.” – Rielle

Biggest Challenges

There weren’t many strong commonalities between how ENFPs responded to the question, “What’s one of the biggest challenges you face as a Christian?” However, it does seem that many struggle with how other people both inside and outside the church see them and respond to their faith.

Charity told me that her biggest challenge is “Not being ashamed. To be honest, Christianity on the whole has a lot to be ashamed about, over centuries of misbehavior. I’ve read enough history to flinch thinking about it. … I often don’t want to call myself Christian, because to a lot of people, that brings a preconception to mind that isn’t me, that I don’t want to be me, that I hate. So yes, I am, but no, I’m not. I hate that I feel intimidated and tempted to hide.”

Inside the church, ENFPs struggle with judgement from other people and with trying to connect in meaningful relationships. Dorien find that “few people can really listen, so many go so quickly in their safe box and want to preach truth and are afraid for heart issues/feelings.” As “a liberal divorcee” and “single mother of 4,” one of Holly’s biggest challenging is being herself and showing other Christians that she “is nice and doesn’t want to judge them.” Anonymous shared that they have trouble finding true relationships because their church is so scattered.

For Rielle and Dani, two big challenges are focusing on God without distraction and not falling into the trap of people-pleasing. Rielle writes, “The biggest challenge I face as a Christian is probably focusing on God and God alone.” Dani says she’s often overly optimistic about how much time she’ll have in a day and that saying “no” to requests for help is difficult, “so finding space in life to cultivate my own spiritual well-being can be a big challenge.” She goes on to say, “I am a people-pleaser, so it is also a challenge for me to not constantly try and conform to the ideals of what everyone else thinks a good Christian should look like. I have to remember to keep my eyes on Jesus Christ, to be transformed by His truth and not conform to the opinions and standards of others.” ENFP - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Though ENFP Christians face challenges in their walks of faith, as we all do, they are intensely passionate about the things they care about. This is why I chose “All Your Heart, Mind, and Soul” as the title for this post.When Christianity is one of the things closest to their hearts, ENFPs can be fantastic models for enthusiastically living out Jesus’ commands, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “your neighbor as yourself.”

Reason For Your Faith

When I wrote my post about INFJ Christians, I decided not to try and fit the answers to “Why are you a Christian?” into a few neat paragraphs. Rather, I quoted from each of the people who’d responded to my post. That’s what I’m going to do here as well. Most of the ENFPs I spoke with focused on their faith being real at a personal soul-level, but I’ll let them tell you about that in their own words:

I know in my soul the things my mind denies. I’m in a constant flux between soul-knowing, and mind-doubting. I believe in God, I don’t think things happened by chance, and I believe Jesus’ teachings are worth following — so that makes me, by definition, a Christian.” – Charity

“I have to admit I left the Church for awhile … A year went on and events happened in my life that the ONLY person that could give me strength and guide me through was God, and it accrued that it is NOT the people and not being part of congregations that are important but your strength in God and the relationship you have with him. … That is why I am a Christian. That is why I know he is God. I only follow HIM, not a congregation not man preaching away. Only God.” — Anonymous [edited to keep specific events private]

“The gospel was made VERY personal for me. (also a long story what I wouldn’t share too open in the church.) By experience I know Jesus came to my level in my sin to bring me to his level. I love Jesus intense and I am sure in His love for me and see Him working powerful. What He did in my life is a big testimony! (what I am slowly processing to put in words…)” — Dorien

“Hebrews 11:1-3 summarizes well why I believe what I believe, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” The entirety of Hebrews 11 explains the heritage of faith from the beginning of time and why I have such a strong assurance in what I believe and why I believe it.
Ultimately it comes down to the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit in my life. I did not come to an understanding of the truth through any wisdom of my own, but by the grace of God and His providence and faithfulness in my life. I can look back on so many instances in my life where God was planting seeds, working in my heart – through my family, my church, and in my circumstances – to bring me to Him.” — Dani

“I’m a Christian because God wanted a relationship with me, and he went to some pretty extreme extents to get it. And honestly, personally knowing the one who is in charge of everything is just amazing! He weaves everything together so perfectly and it’s like I’m a character in a story who can talk to and trust the author, knowing they’re doing a much better job than I ever could.” — Rielle

“Things I’ve seen in life like unexplained miracles, the feelings of comfort I’ve inexplicably received within my body, and the person of Jesus regarding the model of self-sacrifice get that he was.” — Holly


Your turn! If you want to share your Christian ENFP story or talk about ENFPs in the churches, comment here! And if you’re a different personality type looking to contribute an upcoming blog post in this series contact me or head over to the original post. I’d love to feature you!Send Me Your Stories: Christianity and MBTI Types | marissabaker.wordpress.com

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Seeing Every Side In Every Situation

INFJ and INTJ personality types are known for being able to see multiple sides to a given situation. Both these types lead with a mental process called Introverted Intuition (Ni). Personality Hacker nickames this process “Perspectives.” It functions as an advanced pattern recognition process that analyzes what’s going on inside the human mind. But it’s not just focused on an individual’s take on how the world works. To quote Personality Hacker’s Antonia Dodge, “users of Introverted Intuition aren’t married to their own perspectives. They can take a meta-perspective and understand the ways in which we’re the same and different on a cerebral level.”

So what does this look like in real life? Let’s take politics as an example.

Politics (yup, we’re going there)

Most of the people I’m around in real life are strong conservatives, but I’m also in contact with quite a few liberals online. I get to see arguments, news articles, and personal perspectives from both sides of the ideological divide.

I see people who were vocalizing hate for Obama up in arms about how the liberals are treating Trump. I see people who told conservatives to get over it and be happy with Obama as their duly elected president protesting Trump in droves. I’ve seen conservative news articles vilifying Obama for his expensive vacations replaced by liberal news articles condemning Trump for the exact same thing. It just goes on and on and and both sides seem completely blind to the fact that they’re reacting in such similar ways.

My Introverted Intuition lets me notice patterns like this. More than that, I can understand people on both sides without really feeling like I identify 100% with either (except on a very few individual issues). And that makes it hard to discuss politics with most of the people who want to talk about politics. If you’re trying to find some middle ground and encourage others to step outside their own perspectives, you might find both sides fighting you as strongly as they’d been fighting each other.

The Few, The Frustrated, The Misunderstood

There aren’t all that many people operating with Ni as their dominant mental process. According to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, combined they only make up 3 to 7 % of the total population. Our minds don’t work the same way as most other people. That’s one reason we often feel misunderstood. On top of that, our ability to climb inside other peoples’ perspectives gives us insight into others’ minds that not many people can match in return or even fully understand (though some ENFJs and ENTJs who’ve developed their auxiliary Ni, and maybe some ISTPs and ISFPs who use tertiary Ni, might come close).

Our rather unique way of looking at the world can make us feel lonely and frustrated. We might feel like we don’t fit in with certain groups because we can also understand the perspective of the people they disagree with. We might have people reject us because we can only agree with them 75% instead of 100%. We might hide our true opinions or the questions we think about from the people we care for so they won’t feel like we’re attacking them.

Most Ni dominant types are curious about how the world works. They want to ask questions to see where other people stand and understand different viewpoints. We like to throw out “what if …?” questions and see what happens. We’ll also play “devil’s advocate” in arguments to refine our thoughts on a given topic and help the person we’re talking with refine their’s. Other people can misinterpret these things as threatening to their own convictions or as an attempt to sabotage the status quo.

Another Perspective: Ni As A Superpower

I actually love this side of my INFJ personality. At least, I do now. When I was younger, I felt odd because I didn’t feel as firmly convicted about most issues as the people around me seemed. I felt that sharing my questions and voicing alternate opinions wasn’t encouraged. But my second quarter of college, I met a professor who actually encouraged me to write my questionings and unpopular viewpoints into my essays even when I completely disagreed with him. And he, and others, kept doing that for the next four years.

Some time after that is when I started getting interested in studying Myers-Briggs types, so I discovered this ability to adopt a meta-perspective is a natural part of my personality. Studying personality types also helped me understand why so many people see intuitive idea generation as threatening. Once I understood that, I could start phrasing my shared thoughts in a way that appealed to other personality types more.

One of the great strengths of the Ni types is that we bring alternative perspectives to the table and we can learn to present these perspectives in a way that appeals to the different personalities. We have a gift that can help build bridges between people on intellectual and emotional levels. And that’s a pretty cool superpower.

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Mercy and Truth Meet Together: INFJ Christians

Our walks with God don’t all look the same. We’re influenced by our backgrounds, variations in beliefs, and individual personalities. And even though the goal is for us all to become “like God,” that doesn’t mean we become indistinguishable from each other. God created great variety in people and I believe He did that for a reason.

This is the first post in a series looking at Christians with different personality types. Today, we’re focusing on my personality type — INFJ. When you start talking with people of faith who fall into different personality type groups, you notice not all the personalities feel equally valued and understood by Christian churches. And churches on the whole seem skewed toward attracting Sensing and/or Feeling types. If Christianity is a faith meant for all people then why aren’t we doing a better job of connecting with all personality types?

INFJ - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Photocredit: Prixel Creative via Lightstock

Empathy For All

I asked INFJs which Bible characters they identified most with and received a flood of responses. It seems we can’t pick just one favorite character. Several INFJs mentioned that our empathy makes it easy to identify with Bible characters. Rachel writes, “My personality pushes me to strive to understand everyone, so I can identify with all the characters in the Bible in some way.” We do have favorites, though, (mine is the apostle John) and the INFJs who did get into details about their favorite characters were very specific.

I identify with David the most. His emotion portrayed through the Psalms and some OT stories resonate in my heart, especially that of love for God, the Scriptures, and pains of stress under sin and oppression. The way in which he responds to certain situations are very similar to how I’ve responded to mine relate as well. – Sarah H

I identify most with Rahab because she was an idolater who was saved when she trusted God. Not only that, but because of that decision, she was given a place in the line of Christ. I, too, was an idolater, but when I trusted Christ, God adopted me into His household. Now I’m a princess in the royal house of God. – Lillith

INFJ - Join me for a blog series discussing Christianity from the perspectives of different personality types. | marissabaker.wordpress.comThere wasn’t a whole lot of overlap, but multiple INFJs specifically mentioned King David, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus Christ. In our favorite characters, as in many other things, INFJs seek connection. They’re identifying with Bible characters who share aspects of their own personality traits and who inspire them to connect with God. And we do that with multiple characters. Take a look at some of what an INFJ named Alexandria wrote me:

I am Mary and Martha. I love Mary for the way she valued Yahweh and sat attentively, listening to all His wisdom. I identify with Martha and always love to think that I am treating my guests like royalty by having everything organized and prepared.

I love David…oh how I love him. I love that he was so gracious to Saul, even though Saul treated him so badly, trying to kill him! I love that David was a flagrant sinner and yet God called him a man after His own heart. I am so moved at how gracious the Lord was with David every time, and I remember that when I feel like my failings are stacking up!! I like his passion for life and the depth of his soul and all that he felt so poignantly. …

And last of all, my heart beats with Paul. I love his drive to get others to really live by the teachings of the scriptures. His quest for spiritual excellence is so awesome and it is so moving how dedicated he is to those he serves and he loves them so authentically and I feel like I really “get” him. He is a person who is passionate in living the Christian life the right way with integrity and love.

Using Our Gifts

INFJs who talked about serving in their church felt their contributions were appreciated. These INFJs are leading Bible studies, cooking dinners for small groups, participating in youth/teen ministry, using their artistic skills, teaching, and contributing musically. Many INFJs also expressed the desire to help more, but said they either haven’t had the opportunity or were actively discouraged. Continue reading

Hidden Figures and NT-type Women

Contrary to popular belief, INTJs have emotions. They also express them, though not always to the person they’re having feelings about (for example, an INTJ might tell his best friend he likes a girl, but not tell the girl. Or an INTJ might tell her husband she hates a coworker, but never give the coworker a hint). INTJs tend to compartmentalize their feelings and process them internally, and they hate expressing deep emotions casually or to people they don’t know well.

hidden_ntIf you’re very observant, though, and get to know the INTJs in your life, you’ll start to realize there’s a remarkable depth to their feelings. They’ll even do things, like cry at movies, that are typically associated with Feeling personality types. They might scorn the things that are “supposed” to make you cry (e.g. I’m sniffling at a Pixar film and my INTJ sister laughs out loud in the theater). But then I’ll look over and notice moisture leaking from the corners of her eyes at the end of Hidden Figures (I’ve been informed it was not crying).

Hidden Figures (2016) is a fantastic film about “a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. ” They were among the first African-Americans and the first women to work in such prestigious technical roles. My sister, about to graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering, gave me one explanation for her emotional response to the film: “these women and others like them made it possible for me to be an engineer.”

As the character Mary Jackson tells a judge, someone always has to be first. These women proved it’s possible for women to be taken seriously and make important contributions as mathematicians and engineers. But I suspect my sister’s words go deeper than referring to breaking down gender stereotypes about the kind of work women can do. It also has to do with people’s expectations for what women should be like.

hidden_nt_2Only 24-35% of women have a personality type that relies on Thinking as their primary or secondary mental process (according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type). INTJ and INTP women are tied for rarest at 1-3% of the female population. ENTJs come in a close third at 1-4%. ENTPs tie with ESTPs with 2-4%, just slightly more common than ISTPs at 2-3%. The STJ types aren’t nearly as rare, with ESTJs making up 6-8% and ISTJs 7-10% of the female population.

I’m not going to type the women in Hidden Figures, but having seen the film I think it’s safe to say Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are Thinking types. Their minds are naturally wired to excel at processing facts, figures, and data — a hall-mark of the fact-checking, analytical Thinking functions that use “impersonal criteria to make decisions.” I’d say Katherine at least is probably an Intuitive type as well, pairing pattern-recognition and possibility-seeking with her Thinking side.

That means she wasn’t just a rarity at NASA (an African-American woman working in a highly technical position). She’s also a rarity in society (a woman using both Intuition and Thinking as her most comfortable mental processes). Thinking traits are so strongly stereotyped as masculine that NT women often don’t fit cultural expectations for femininity. One of the many things I loved about Hidden Figures is that these three women seemed to have figured out a way to balance being wives and mothers with working as groundbreakingly successful mathematicians. They’re also portrayed as real people who are admired and respected for who they are instead of as the bitchy, controlling, or cold stereotype we often get when presented with Thinking female characters (take Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal as an example). And the men they’re in relationships with aren’t scared of them or trying to fit them back in boxes.

It was really wonderful to see characters that embraced femininity on their own terms. While I do believe God created the two genders to be different and complementary in the roles we fill, I also think there are stereotypes in our culture that do both genders a disservice. One of those is that women are or “should” be more emotion-driven than analytically-minded. There’s room for both. And, as Hidden Figures reminds us, we would do ourselves a terrible disservice if we tried to keep these women hidden.click to read article, "Hidden Figures and NT-type Women" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

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