The most well-known of these is, of course, that one with a hyphenated name which doesn’t include the term “personality” at all. I pass on dropping the name because I don’t want the headaches of dealing with the True Believers of the thing. Some years ago an SBC numbers, stat kind of guy, said offhand in a meeting about demographics that the personality typing tool lacked a solid basis in research. His casual remark piqued my interest because I assumed if large corporations used such things that there was a solid basis for such.
Seems the solid basis is faith in the tools rather than the origin, science, and practice of these typing instruments. Every time I’ve been less-than-enthused about typing tools, I’ve been treated to a quick dose of chastisement. Used to be hymnals thrown at me. People do love these things and place a lot of faith in them. I’ll pass, partly because of my distaste for ‘forced choice’ questionnaires.
You might consider the latest foray into typing criticism and exposure, an interesting book by Merve Emre, The Personality Brokers. Christianity Today has an article on the book, a rather soft one. Don’t overlook this salient point: if respondants retake the test a few weeks after their first test over half of them end up with a different typing profile. A simple internet search will return plenty of material short of your buying a book. Take a look.
But if you want to just play games and maybe have the side benefit of learning what you mostly already knew, do the tests.
More popular in our circles are the numerous spiritual gift tools. I’ve used one or two of these. Their benefit is quite modest. If you like these and are sold on their value to the church, then explain how Christendom survived for over nineteen centuries without having these available? Maybe there was relevant teaching from pastors and elders? Maybe believers served and their gifts became evident? The matter of spiritual gifts is far less prominent in the New Testament that we have made it out to be.
But, play the games. Maybe your pastor is lazy and would rather rely on the manufactured and marketed too designed by one who is not the shepherd of the congregation. Mostly harmless. More of a product that might earn its publisher and seller a little money than anything that has deep benefit to a church.
The worst offender on the inventories are the ones that couple a personality test with a gifts test. At least the gifts test has some underpinning in scripture. Having been exposed to one of these paired tools, I conclude that we are in love more with technology (you can do all this online and have results tabulated, tabled, and graphed) and tools than biblical teaching and practice.
We have too much money and too much time; therefore, these commercial products have been thrust upon us with some success.
But…have some fun. Don’t take them too seriously. The pastor who loves his congregation and makes an effort to build relationships with all under his care already has an effective tool: God’s calling and that infallible tool, God’s Word.
And don’t throw that hymnal at me for writing this. Don’t type me either. If you’ve never met me but think you can label me with a string of letters, we won’t be friends anymore.
I will admit to one occasion where a ‘forced choice’ helped me about a decade ago. I was called by the nursing home and informed that my father had been taken to the emergency room. When I arrived and met the ER physician in his examination room. I was shocked when she told me, “I don’t believe he will leave the hospital,” a blunt and candid assessment of his medical condition. Soon thereafter a chaplain or social worker asked me which hospice company I would prefer and named the two that served that hospital. I was hardly in a condition to evaluate the options whereupon he said pick a color: orange or green, a forced choice. I picked one and the decision was made. I don’t know if the hospital approves of such techniques these days.