My last post published on this blog on September 5, 2022, titled, “The Perks of Being An Introvert,” got my juices flowing on this particular topic, so this post is a follow-up to that post. I also published a blog post titled, “In Praise of Introverts,” on my second blog back on April 23, 2019, but that’s been almost 3 1/2 years ago, and I had completely forgotten about it. I thought about republishing it on this blog, but you can read on my other blog at this link.
Let’s start off with 30 humorous memes that every true Introvert can relate to from an article titled, “30 Funny Memes That Will Make Every Introvert Laugh Out Loud,” by Greta Jaruševičiūtė, Photo Editor-in-Chief and a staff writer at BoredPanda.com. Click here to read/see all 30 memes (#10 is my favorite).
I will admit that some of those memes might be a bit excessive, but they are LOL funny to those of us who truly understand what it means to be introverted and misunderstood by the Extroverts out there who think we are just plain weird. Also, Introverts make up 25% to 40% of the population, and it is important to note that being introverted does not mean an Introvert is socially anxious or shy (source here).
Since I’ve already published two blog posts on the topic of being an Introvert and what that means (click here and here or see first paragraph above), this post will focus on a different aspect of Introversion.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) organizes personality into 16 distinct types, based on Carl Jung‘s theory of psychological type. We all exhibit different “preferences” for ways of being and interacting with others in the world. The idea behind personality type is that characteristics that appear uninterpretable or even odd, make sense when we consider these behaviors through the lens of personality.
People are not usually “always” one way or the other. We can act different ways in different situations and around different people. This is highly adaptive and enables us to alter our behaviors to fit different social contexts. For example, someone who might identify as being highly introverted might be able to utilize extraverted tendencies adaptively when he or she needs to engage in an important public speaking event.
The Myers-Briggs concept of introversion (vs. extroversion) involves a tendency to derive energy from time spent alone; time spent around other people may be experienced as emotionally or psychologically draining. These individuals tend to be sensitive to their environments and may even report being easily “over-stimulated” by the amount of sounds, smells, colors, and interactions taking place around them. A newer concept called the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) goes into greater detail with this aspect of introversion (not all introverts have this experience).
Introverted individuals generally prefer to take time on their own to contemplate or reflect upon ideas before taking decisive action. They are also usually more comfortable after a decision has been made. It is not uncommon for introverted people to experience liking the “idea” of something better than the “real thing.”
ISTJ (Introverted / Sensing / Thinking / Judging – 16.4% of males, 6.9% of females)
ISTJ’s are quiet and serious, generally interested in a peaceful and secure way of life. They are known for their responsible, dependable, and thorough natures. They are logical, practical, and work steadily towards goals without much distractibility. They are often interested in supporting traditions and establishments. ISTJ’s usually take great enjoyment out of order and organization in both their home and work lives.
ISFJ (Introverted / Sensing / Feeling / Judging – 8.1% of males, 19.4% of females)
ISFJ’s are quiet, conscientious, and kind. They are responsible in nature and are committed to meeting their obligations. They have a tendency to put the needs of others above their own. Stable and practical in nature, they value security and traditions. ISFJ’s tend to have a rich inner world and are highly attuned to the feelings of others. They usually are very interested in ways of serving others.
INFJ (Introverted / Intuitive / Feeling / Judging – 1.3% of males, 1.6% of females)
INFJ’s are quietly forceful, sensitive, and original. They seek out meaning in the connections between people, ideas, and possessions. They are curious to understand the motives of others and generally have great insight into other people. They are conscientious in nature and committed to their firm values. They tend to develop a clear vision about how to best serve the common good and then are organized and decisive in the ways in which they choose to implement this vision.
INTJ (Introverted / Intuitive / Thinking / Judging – 3.3% of males, 0.8% of females)
INTJ’s are independent, original, determined, and analytical. They have a great ability to turn theories into solid plans of action. They easily see patterns in external events and are able to explain these patterns thoroughly. When they are committed, they are capable of organizing a job and carrying it through to fruition. They tend to have high standards for their own performance as well as the performance of others. They are natural leaders, but they are willing to follow if they trust existing leaders.
ISTP (Introverted / Sensing / Thinking / Perceiving – 8.5% of males, 2.4% of females)
ISTP’s are quiet and reserved, interested in the way that things work. They are highly skilled with mechanical work and may be interested in/talented in extreme sports. They are flexible and tolerant, and tend to quietly observe until a solution becomes clear. They are interested in cause and effect and tend to organize facts using principles. They can be perceived as somewhat detached or analytical, and they excel at finding solutions to practical problems.
ISFP (Introverted / Sensing / Feeling / Perceiving – 7.6% of males, 9.9% of females)
ISFP’s are quiet, serious, sensitive, and kind. They dislike conflict and are unlikely to engage in activities where conflict is likely to occur. They are loyal and faithful, with a particular appreciation for the aesthetic. They tend to be flexible and open-minded, and are likely to be creative and original. They prefer to have their own space and work within their own time frame. They appreciate the present moment and enjoy what is going on around them in that moment.
INFP (Introverted / Intuitive / Feeling / Perceiving – 4.1% of males, 4.6% of females)
INFP’s are reflective, quiet, and idealistic. They are loyal to their values and to the people who are important to them. They tend to have a well-developed value system, which they strive to live in accordance with. INFP’s are loyal, adaptable, and laid-back (until one of their values are threatened). They have an interest in understanding and helping others.
INTP (Introverted / Intuitive / Thinking / Perceiving – 4.8% of males, 1.8% of females)
INTP’s are original, logical, and creative thinkers. They tend to get very excited about ideas and theories. INTP’s usually value logic, knowledge, and competence. They are quiet and reserved, and may be difficult to get to know well. They are usually individualistic and are uninterested in either leading or following others.
If you felt that you identified as an introvert in my recent post, Understanding the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which specific introverted type stood out to you the most? For some, a brief description of their Myers-Briggs type is a bit of an “a-ha!” moment.
For others, they may identify with features of multiple types. It is important to remember that no one type is “better” or “worse” than any other. Each type has specific strengths and weaknesses; they are simply different.
If you are interested in taking the official MBTI personality assessment, you may take it at MBTI Online for $49.95. For an unofficial version of the Jung Typology Test, you may take it for free at HumanMetrics. The Myers & Briggs Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.myersbriggs.org/ (Quote source here.)
Of course, there are 8 Extroverted types in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, too, and you can read about all 8 Extroverted types at this link.
I first encountered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) when I was attending graduate school at a state university back in 1990 when the program I was a part of required all students to take the MBTI personality assessment. Upon graduating with my master’s degree, I spent the next 20 years working in academic settings (public and private colleges and universities), and in several of these work settings they also required that staff members take the MBTI personality assessment. With the exception of one time when my result was INFJ, my usual results were always ISFJ. As it turned out, I was very close to the middle of the “S” (sensing) and “N” (intuition) continuum which is why one time when I took the test the result was INFJ. ISFJ is the most common type found in females (19.4%) and INFJ is the second most uncommon type found in females (1.6%) according to the stats noted in the article above. When I read through the differences between ISFJ and INFJ in an article at this link, I could tell I tend more towards ISFJ.
Because I worked in academic/educational settings (mostly secular) from the mid-1980’s for the rest of my working career, taking assessment tests like the Myers Briggs Personality Assessment was a “big thing” in those settings. This particular assessment is very good for understanding your basic personality preferences and your strengths and weaknesses.
From a Christian perspective, GotQuestions.org provides the following information regarding the MBTI:
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) is a popular personality inventory first published in 1943 and based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. The test was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, as a way to help people understand themselves and each other better.
The MBTI tests for preferences in four different areas and specifies sixteen personality types. The areas of preference include (1) a focus on the exterior world (extroversion, E) or the interior world (introversion, I), (2) a focus on basic information (sensing, S) or interpreting and adding meaning to information (intuition, N), (3) making decisions by first looking at logic (thinking, T) or by first considering the people involved (feeling, F), and (4) a desire for things to be decided (judging, J) or being open to other options (perceiving, P). The sixteen personality types are identified as combinations of those four preference; for example, ISTJ is a personality type that is basically introverted, focused on basic information, logical, and most comfortable when decision-making has been resolved.
The MBTI is a popular assessment tool. Whether or not people have taken the official psychological assessment, many have heard of the terms and have unofficially tested their personalities or self-identified with a specific type. Descriptions abound of general personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, best jobs for each type, best learning environments for each type, and even best romantic combinations of each type.
The Myers & Briggs Foundation is careful to point out that no one personality type is better than any other personality type. Also, personality types are not indicative of ability or character. The types are simply offered as helpful tools in better understanding oneself. Personality type might be helpful in making choices but should not be the only tool a person uses to determine career path, romantic partners, or the like.
The secular scientific considerations of the MBTI notwithstanding, is the idea that there are different personality types biblical? Are personality types something Christians should consider? Are they helpful in any way? Let’s find out what the Bible says.
We know that all humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). We know that we are uniquely formed and that God fully knows us and fully loves us (Psalm 139). No two human beings are exactly the same. Nothing in the MBTI contradicts this. Simple observation tells us that some people seem energized by spending time with others whereas other people recharge best alone. The Bible leaves room for there being different types of people as well as for commonalities among the different types. The fact that John Doe is unique does not mean that every single thing about Mr. Doe is different from everyone else. It does not contradict biblical truth to classify certain general similarities among people.
The benefit of the MBTI for Christians is in helping us better understand ourselves so as to better serve God. Often, our personality traits coincide with God’s call on our lives. For example, we might tend more toward introversion and have as part of our call being a writer. Or perhaps we tend more toward extroversion and find that God has asked us to host large-group Bible studies. Knowing our “natural” strengths can help us be attuned to the places where we can serve most effectively; knowing our “natural” weaknesses might help us avoid paths that would more easily trip us up.
Understanding personality types can also help Christians better love and serve others. For example, when we know that one of our friends tends more toward introversion, we’ll know that time spent together one-on-one is probably more meaningful than time spent together in larger social settings. If our friend tends more toward extroversion, we’ll know that he enjoys being included in social activities so we can be sure to invite him. Understanding personality types can also help us more easily forgive others. For instance, when an introverted friend says “no” to our invitation to a get-together, we might not take it as personally. Or, when a person who is a “thinker” talks first about the bottom-line in a church staffing decision, we can recognize that his words are not due to hard-heartedness but to the way God has naturally wired him for analysis.
One danger of the MBTI for Christians, or for anyone, is in making personality type inflexible and using it to justify stagnation. One’s personality type does not excuse one’s bad behavior, nor does it limit one’s ability to change or to do (and enjoy) things not stereotypically within the type. An introvert is still called to share the gospel. An extrovert is still called to spend time alone with God. A thinker should still consider the people his decisions affect. A feeler is still expected to be a good steward. When God calls us outside of our comfort zone, personality type is not a reason to disobey. If anything, a call of God that challenges our natural inclinations gives us more opportunity to trust Him and a deeper understanding that it is only His work in us that causes amazing things to be accomplished (see Zechariah 4:6).
Another danger of the MBTI is in allowing it to define the totality of our identities. A Christian is first and foremost a child of God (John 1:12). Our personality is something God designed, and it is certainly something to explore so that we can bring glory to God. But we are defined first by Jesus. Paul was willing to lose all things “that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own . . . but that which is through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:8–9).
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI can be a helpful tool in understanding God’s unique design of humanity, and of yourself specifically. It hints at both the order and diversity with which God created the world, demonstrating His logic and His artistry. Understanding ourselves can help us better steward the gifts God has given us. Rather than try to become someone else, we can thank God for His unique design and make the best use of the gifts God has given us. (Quote source here.)
At this point, I’ve pretty much covered the topic on being an introvert (it does get old being misunderstood just because one is quieter then those who are more vocal and outgoing among us), so I’ll move on to a new topic in my next blog post. I’ll end this post with a quote from Jenn Granneman, author of the bestselling book, “The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World,” and creator of IntrovertDear.com. She states: Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude…
And the inner world . . .
Will always be . . .
Our home . . . .
YouTube Video: “Fill My Cup” by Andrew Ripp: