After years of allowing personality tests to define her, LUN WEISHI realised that they were influencing her in a manner they weren’t designed for. Join her as she explores how making peace with her identity in Christ allowed for these tests to serve their true purpose for her.
I was around 14 when I read a teen magazine teaching me what eyeshadow colour would best reflect my personality. This started an obsessive interest in using tests to understand myself better. From the Love Language and Ministry Assessment tests our youth group leaders gave us, to the DiSC Leadership profiles done in school, personality tests gave me what I was so badly looking for — a means of identifying and categorising myself.
I didn’t understand how I could have close friends, yet still feel out of place. How I could excel at my CCA, yet not get along with my team. I needed something to help me figure it out, so I eventually became THAT friend in class that would make all her friends do the tests so she could analyse and assess them.
AN EXCUSE TO NOT CARE
What I didn’t consider, though, was the influence I let these tests have on my sense of self, how I saw people, and even how I perceived God’s calling on my life. I started using my personality profile to excuse bad behaviour (e.g., “I’m not rude, I’m direct!”), which was a way of thinking of myself as the main character in every situation and assuming everyone else just didn’t understand me. Whenever conflict arose, I would just write people off as ignorant for not knowing about how my personality worked. I thought it was better to ‘be myself’ — someone introverted, headstrong, and logical. If my peers didn’t get it, it was their problem and not mine. I expected them to either figure it out or leave.
I STARTED USING MY PERSONALITY PROFILE TO EXCUSE BAD BEHAVIOUR (E.G., “I’M NOT RUDE, I’M DIRECT!”).
I only wanted to surround myself with like-minded people, which gave me an excuse to avoid others, namely, some of the girls in my church small group. They were so much more expressive and sociable than I was. I felt that they were too different from me, so I avoided these girls. By then, I had carefully curated my life to not include those whose mere existence challenged or triggered my insecurities. Of course, I would use the excuse that how our profiles made it difficult to get along. You see, I had allowed something that was supposed to be a tool to become a title. My personality profiles came to define me, and I internalised them as part of my identity. Since I had done all these personality tests and ‘knew myself well,’ I thought I knew better, but the truth was that I was simply allowing myself to be self-absorbed.
However, your girl here experienced a plot twist when she eventually found deep comfort in the same girls she pushed away. They provided deep comfort through their language, presence, and much-needed cry time in the wake of my devastating first breakup. I began to learn about how their unique profiles were their giftings from God. I began to love the diversity they brought into my life, and even in our disagreements and fights, we began to grow as people and friends.
I remain close friends with many of these girls 10+ years later. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our differences and disagreements!
MY PERSONALITY PROFILES CAME TO DEFINE ME, AND I INTERNALISED THEM AS PART OF MY IDENTITY.
Only now we see them as diversity and uniqueness, something worthy of celebrating and validation.
TOOLS, NOT TITLES
In recent years, I have studied research papers about the psychology of personality and explored a career anchored in utilising personality tests to help others in the workplace. I started to understand the core values behind these tests, and the intended use of them. Tests for leadership, personality, and so on are useful in helping us have a language for the very diverse and unique ways human beings are made. Personality tests and profiles are tools, not titles — they equip me, but don’t define me.
We are all created in weird, wonderful and wild ways by our wonderfully creative Creator. When we use these tests, we start to build a vocabulary and understand some of these facets of who we are. But at the heart of it all, I’m a daughter of God first! I’ve stopped letting my personality tests alone define me because I know that my identity is FIRST as a child of the King.
A NEW IDENTITY
So what is this identity that we can hold on to? We can look to Jesus, who walked freely as someone who knew God intimately, and carried Himself with the understanding that God knows Him (John 8:54–55; 10:15, 30). Jesus too, had His own personality. There are countless weblinks dedicated to figuring out what Jesus’ MBTI profile would be, or what His top five strengths might be on the StrengthsFinder. But even if we could get Jesus to take these tests, would it make that one superior above the others? I think not. Surely, then, the key is in putting our security in our identity as God’s child, and not in man-made definitions!
WE ARE ALL CREATED IN WEIRD, WONDERFUL AND WILD WAYS BY OUR WONDERFULLY CREATIVE CREATOR.
That doesn’t mean that we have to throw all personality tests out the window. These tools have taught me much! For example, it’s shown me that I need to be willing to embrace differences. Having friction or disagreements resulting from different personalities is bound to happen even with good intentions. Conflict feels bad, but it is not inherently bad for us. After all, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Prov 27:17). Understanding different personality types have helped me to love those around me better.
At the same time, it has taught me to be kind to myself. Figuring out how your personality works takes time, prayer, community, and then more time. You may experience moments of feeling out of place or not knowing who you are, but it’s part of the process. As I’ve placed my security in my identity as God’s child, and grown comfortable with the way He has made me, I’ve been able to be more patient with the process, and submit my weaknesses to His correction.
These days, I know that I am not just an “INTJ” on the MBTI test, or “D/C” in the DiSC, but first and foremost, a daughter of the Most High King. The journey of this changed heart has sometimes looked like a 90s rom-com makeover montage with a few bad haircuts and multiple awkward moments, but it has been progress, and there has been joy in this growth!