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What Personality Tests Can't Tell Us

Self | Attie Murphy | 5 mins

It's funny how we look to the outside to figure out what lies inside us. We can learn a lot when we gain objective insight, but we need to remember that our design is complex and growing. As we grow up, we tend to create "profiles" for ourselves, which we apply to the situations we encounter. Based on those self-evaluated descriptions, we fit ourselves into categories. For example, I might use a few titles to describe myself: writer, travel enthusiast, introvert, and creative-minded. A couple of those are interests, and a couple are broad personality traits. Those are important aspects of who I am, and I make better life decisions when I understand my motivations. To learn how to move forward, I like to have analysis to compare with my insights. Knowing that I'm an INFP and Enneagram five helps pinpoint strengths and weaknesses that I can work on, but I know those tests don’t sum up who I am. 

Here's what we need to remember: Analysis teaches us; it doesn't define us. It can help to put ourselves in certain boxes to decide how to use our strengths. However, we need to leave an opening for our structures to change. We also need to acknowledge that our inherent traits are not black and white. I may fit into the "investigative and observant" role, but I also like to stay active and don't like to spend too much time alone. We should never tell ourselves that specific skills or traits aren't meant for us simply because they're unfamiliar. Or, use our identified “personality traits” as an excuse for bad or unhelpful behavior. For example, I can't imagine I'll ever like public speaking, but that could change through my experiences. I know I can (and should) do things outside of my talents when I open my mind to risk. 

We are often destructive when we use our personality "types" as excuses not to follow God's guidance. His Word is more accurate than any psychology test will ever be. Jesus shows us how we should live our lives, and we can follow Him no matter who we are. Sometimes our calling to love people will take us outside of our comfort zones, and that's okay. We can flourish in areas we never thought possible when we step into where we are needed. 

Whether you are trying to decide your next big step, or are wrestling with how to handle a situation, here are some points to keep in mind: 

  • Your strengths will grow through intention when you understand them better. 

  • Your weaknesses matter too. You don't have to "fix" them; you need to address them. Do you only think they're weaknesses because of comparison, or are they areas that are holding you back? How can you control them to move forward?

  • We are all paradoxical in some ways. Your strengths aren't always the opposite of your weaknesses. 
  • "Different" is more than okay. Each of us is unique and brings something new to the world. God is creative and nothing He designs is boring! 
  • It's also good that we all have similarities. You don’t need to force yourself to stand out in ways that aren't genuine. "Over analyzing" often backfires. 
  • Learning how our minds work is a great way to grow and connect better with others - and it's super fascinating!

God loves the real you. That fact is always true. At the same time, He wants you to grow. He wants you to discover new ways to build character and have influence. Don’t let your “introvert” or “extrovert” tendencies be excuses for what you won’t do. Instead, use your knowledge of how you’re wired to decide what you will do. Along the way, you’ll encounter challenges that will require a mindset you haven’t yet experienced, and that is when you can choose to embrace the new. Ten years from now, you may still have many of the same personality traits, but hopefully, you will also have parts of you that are completely different. Through it all, who you are will always remain a one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted creation. 

We can’t see all that God knows about how He created us, but the more we expand our curiosity, the more we can learn about who He is and why we’re here.


Written By

Attie Murphy

An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.

Published on Dec 20, 2021