So, given what we’ve seen about the history and purpose of these personality tests and how that lines up with what the Bible says our goals should be as Christians, how can we exercise caution in using these tests?
I spent the majority of this series writing about the spiritual value of personality tests. But I recognize that most Christians are not using these assessments because of their spiritual value. Just as we do not often choose our television shows based on spiritual value, perhaps to you personality tests are just a fun diversion, not an overtly spiritual practice. Although these tests may seem like harmless fun, here are a few things to consider before indulging in them.
We need to examine our motives. Here are three questions to ask if you find yourself particularly interested in personality assessments.
#1. Do personality tests fill a void I feel to be deeply known and understood?
The common quote, “being in a room full of people and still feeling alone,” comes to mind here. Many of us desire to be fully known and fully loved, but with the intricacies of our personhood, we find it hard to believe that anyone can know us deeply. Personality tests may even be our culture’s way of feeling validated for all of one’s unique attributes. But as Christians, we do not need to seek this kind of validation.
In a recent vlog from Allie Beth Stuckey on the topic of the Enneagram, she says, “Our desire to be fully known, to be unconditionally loved, is found through Christ in God.” Scripture is full of verses that assure us of this truth by telling us that God knows all of our thoughts, our ways, what we want to say and what we actually say, our hearts, our physical make-up (before we were even born), the number of hairs on our heads, and the list goes on and on (e.g. Psalm 139:13–16; Jeremiah 1:5).
God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves, and we can be assured without pagan assessments that we are completely known and deeply understood.
#2. Do personality tests make my selfish tendencies seem less sinful?
Part of the problem with the cultural practice of “self-care” is that it gives us an excuse to indulge in selfish acts, ostensibly for the sake of mental and emotional health. While eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep is important, self-care can extend beyond taking care of our bodies into the territory of splurging for sanity.
Personality tests can feed our fleshly desires by telling us that it is okay—and even good—to do what feels natural to us. Rather than pointing to Christ as the example of who we should be striving to be like, we can instead be tempted to settle for an upgraded model of ourselves. We are encouraged to learn to be comfortable in our own skin when God calls us to be killing the flesh through the Spirit (Romans 8:13).
If personality tests serve to encourage our fleshly inclinations to distrust people, befriend only certain types of people, avoid meeting in a local congregation, treat others poorly, or reject the commands of God in Scripture, they are not from God. We need to think critically about how these tests may cause us to serve self instead of Christ.
#3. Are personality tests a substitute for discerning my spiritual gifts?
In the Bible, spiritual gifts are never equated with personality. They are a matter of function (Romans 12:4-8). Scripture actually gives us many examples of those who felt inadequate, or outside of their realm of comfort when they were given roles by God. For example, Moses was not charged to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity because of his natural eloquence and gregarious personality (Exodus 4:10). Despite his lack of ability, God equipped him with everything he needed to fulfill his purpose. In the same way, spiritual gifts are not given based on what comes naturally to us.
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In fact, while personality tests cater to our preferences, spiritual gifts are always spoken about in regard to how they might be used to serve the church. Spiritual gifts are not for our benefit. They are for the mutual edification of the local body of Christ (1 Peter 4:10). Even the discernment of spiritual gifts should come from within the church. So, given the secular nature of personality assessments, it is safe to say that these assessments cannot give us insight into our spiritual gifts. That role belongs to the local church.
So how should we apply all of this information? I realize this can seem like an extensive study of something that seems relatively insignificant. As believers, however, how we use our time and what we choose to believe (no matter how seemingly small) have broad implications.
Personality tests are rooted in pagan ideas that are contrary to the teachings of Scripture, were created for a purpose contrary to our purpose as believers, are less effective than Scripture, and may tempt us to find our validation, sanctification, and purpose outside of God and His Church. For all of these reasons, I would encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to reevaluate their use of personality tests, being careful not to put these assessments on a pedestal where they do not belong. Having fun is one thing, but we must exercise caution. As Scripture says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).