Introversion & Faith, Part II: Personality Types

In my first post about introversion, I touched upon my aversion to small talk, a commonly shared sentiment between introverts. Personally, it’s not that I dislike interacting with people, it’s that I feel inauthentic and drained when forced to engage in trivial conversation – especially when it doesn’t lead to deeper, more meaningful dialogue. Small talk can feel like an onerous formality, an investment of time and energy that does little to move the relationship forward.

When I meet you for the first time and we exchange pleasantries, my mind is buzzing with questions – I want to know who you are, and who you strive to be. I wonder what your childhood was like, and what has had the biggest influence on you. What is your greatest fear, what brings you joy? What is your relationship like with God, and how has that evolved over time? As I go through the motions and keep the conversation light, I almost have to hide the fact that I’m incredibly interested in your experience of life on this earth; I want to know if there is anything I can do to help you, be it problem-solving, something practical, or simply lending an ear.

In other words, I am Gollum, and your true self – your heart and soul – is my Precious. (Cut to me creepily stroking your intangible being with bony fingers and a crazed look in my eyes.)

All jokes aside, the intense curiosity I have about others completely aligns with my Myers-Briggs personality type, INFJ. We are oftentimes given the more descriptive title of “Guardian”, “Counselor” or “Advocate”, among others. Of all 16 possible permutations, I am an introverted (I), intuitive (N), feeling (F), judging (J) person. In short, I prefer interacting in small groups and feel energized when I’m alone or with close friends (I); I notice patterns and go with my gut feeling (N); I try my best to accommodate for others, even if that means throwing logic out the window (F); I love planning, I refer to my Moleskine planner religiously, I make concrete plans with friends and appreciate sticking to said plans, and I’ll throw the word “plan” in here one more time (J). Interestingly enough, the personality attributed to those who exhibit the combination of these four functions is extremely accurate for me. 16 personalities describes INFJs as individuals who “…tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.” INFJs are the ultimate customer service representatives for real life. Hello, my name is Joyce. How can I help you?

Some people may object to categorizing everyone into 16 neat little boxes, and I agree that we shouldn’t oversimplify the concept of personality in this way. However, I have found that MBTI can be quite helpful in understanding yourself and others better; I recommend keeping in mind that these are purely self-reported preferences of how we interact and make choices. Furthermore, where you fall on the spectrum for each function (E/I, N/S, F/T, J/P) may change depending on the situation, or even over time – in college, I tested as an ISFJ, but years later I am very much an INFJ and score highly on all four components. In my personal experience, I find MBTI to be a useful tool which allows me to better understand how I perceive the world, and how to articulate my motivation behind the decisions I make. Conversely, it also provides insight into why others might have a different perspective, or make different choices.

Consider joining us at 7pm on Tuesday, February 23rd, as we gather at the Forefront office to discuss personality types, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram. Click the image above to RSVP.

If you would like to take the MBTI or Enneagram test, please find links to free versions below:

MBTI test

Enneagram test