Have you heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? It’s nifty, really. Wikipedia defines it as “a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.” Click here for more info if you’re interested. But for the point of this story, just know that my ‘type’ is INFP – Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. In general, and as the chart on that page indicates very briefly, I am “sensitive, creative, idealistic, perceptive, caring, and loyal,” rather than analytical, realistic and systematic. I “value inner harmony and personal growth, and focus on dreams and possibilities,” as opposed to action plans and practical problem solving. It’s not to say that I’m not capable of being or acting in ways different than my so-called ‘type,’ but a person’s ‘type,’ indicates their natural preferences.
So – my husband and I have had a light, passing interest in Myers-Briggs for basically our whole marriage. And last week, my husband emailed me this funny tidbit about what would be “hell” for my type. (Find yours here.)
INFP — Your deepest thoughts and feelings are exposed to a large audience and everyone thinks that you’re pathetic and unoriginal.
I replied: Guess I should stop writing my blog! 🙂
So anyway….As I mentioned on Sunday, I’ve been doing this study on Galatians, which was of course written by Paul, one of the people from Scripture that I really want to meet one day.
Now Paul’s conversion was not a sweet and simple “turning of the heart.” It was a total transformation. In Acts we learn that Paul (formerly known as Saul) consented to the execution by stoning of Stephen – the first recorded Christian martyr, and “was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.” (Acts 8:3) Not a nice guy.
The Paul writing to the Galatians is altogether different: “Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
Whoa. When we know the truth about who Paul was before he met the Light of the World, we can see that him calling himself “a slave of Christ” is no small statement. This is a man who is reveling in humility before God.
And that’s why I admire Paul. As I mentioned Sunday, he didn’t connect with the apostles for 3 years after meeting Christ in that blinding light. And though I mentioned that he relied on prayer, he also had the Holy Spirit, imparting His gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2). These things together were tethers to the Father, but they required Paul’s cooperation for their full strength to be revealed. And though I’m not an expert, it sure seems like Paul was among the most cooperative Christians whoever lived.
And as Paul submitted himself wholly to Jesus, the Lord took Paul’s gifts of intelligence, knowledge of holy Scripture (the Old Testament books), and speaking ability and put them to use building up a kingdom that God has promised “the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against” (Matthew 16:18).
I often wonder what that “thorn in the flesh” was, that Paul wanted removed so badly (2 Corinthians 12:7). Did he get migraine headaches like me? Suddenly have some other physical ailment? Or was it a psychological complaint? A personality trait he disliked, and of course begged God to remove because he so fully recognized his inability to change himself on his own? Did he have stage fright? Did the people he’d tortured and killed come back to him in his worst nightmares? Was he ever just plain fearful that he wasn’t doing God’s will? Because if he was, I can’t find the proof. His courage, his faith, is astounding.
I won’t have these answers on this side of Heaven. But I will keep learning from Paul by reading his letters. And though it takes courage that I sometimes feel I don’t have, I will try to be like him – going against my INFP ‘type’ – exposing myself, my thoughts, and feelings willingly to new, larger audiences – not to please people, but as a slave of Christ, my Rock, my Redeemer.