We all have stories of life-changing influences such as graduations, marriage, children, jobs, careers, even firings that happen early on. However, one of my most-significant influences was spawned forty some years after most of my big decisions had already occurred via a phone call from my brother, Mac, a Chaplain in the army studying counseling. “Ruthie, I’m attending a seminar and just learned about a nifty new counseling tool which helps people to understand personality differences. I know this is going to interest you. I’ll get more information and see you in a couple weeks.” Then, he added, “This is going to change your life.”
‘Hmm”, I wondered aloud, what could possibly change my life any more than what I’d already experienced? Married to Jim, sharing our ministry with a growing church, involved with associational and state meetings, part time counseling, teaching a bible class of 30 plus singles, leading seminars on marriage and family counseling, parenting our four teenagers in high school and college, 13 years as fulltime substitute for middle and high school. I had also authored a couple counseling books. Did I have a need, desire or even have time to change anything? I was looking forward to slowing down. But Mac knew me well and I trusted his judgment. I could hardly wait to hear more.
A few weeks later at our family reunion twelve of us arranged our chairs in a circle to hear what Mac wanted to share. “I’ve learned something new that I know will profit all of you.” He handed out questionnaires and pens and we gathered around the picnic tables and got to work, except for Jim who preferred to continue working on a relative’s car problem. I tried to persuade him to join in but he said “I’m in the middle of something and I’ve taken my share of questionnaires.” As I began marking my answers, Mac said, “Ruthie, I know how you’re going to type out; you’ll like it”. He gave the interpretation and was right about me--ENFJ. I was fascinated by what I learned about my personality traits that I had no idea existed. It fit!
An exciting session was going on near-by as Mac chatted with Shirley, our older sister and her husband, Ralph, happily married for 40-plus years who typed out total opposites. We were all aware that they disagreed on many things, but as Mac explained what the letters meant and how this information could help them, Ralph and Shirley were just dying of laughter. Right before our eyes we saw a huge change taking place. In just 40 minutes, their understanding of each other was completely transformed. They said later that it was like experiencing their second honeymoon. Jim took notice of their participation and evident relief and joy. That evening as Jim drove us to a previously planned family outing about 45 minutes away, he agreed to take the questionnaire orally. So, with flashlight in hand, I read the questions and recorded his answers, revealing that our answers differed a lot.
Mac’s scoring of Jim’s answers indicated that he was ESTJ revealing that we were opposite in just two areas. Mac loaned me his textbook, which I read aloud the eight hours of travel home. Jim showed more interest and I was enthralled with the new approach for understanding ourselves and appreciating the differences in others. It was like learning a new language. Just amazing!
One evening several weeks later as Jim and I visited about our personalities, I said “Now that I know that counseling is the passion of ENFJ’s, and teaching and writing for me are second, I wish I could quit substituting and just counsel”. He said “Why don’t you go ahead and do that.” “Really? I was aware that we needed my income while the kids were in college. “How could we get along without my school check?” “We’ll manage,” he said. This was unbelievable! I got up right then and there and called the principal to tell him I was resigning.
Jim was so impressed with the positive nature of the MBTI personality design which almost magically helped individuals and families that he mentioned it in sermons, required it in pre-marriage counselling and began assisting in seminars. Together, we held Personality seminars in many states for pastors and wives, missionaries, school teachers, businesses, local college classes and several departments in our local hospital. An especially challenging seminar in Georgia involved 400 college trained singles. A friend went along to help us score, record and pass out profiles, which by then I had written. Observing the students’ delight in discovering how discovering one’s God-given temperament-type personality affirms true identity along with providing career choices was an invigorating and satisfying new ministry. Jim was convinced. Mac was right.
Final Step in Blending Individual Preferences for Temperament-Type
If you are still unsure whether you prefer Sensing or Intuition, an email I received this morning from Julia, a young mother of two preschoolers holding down a full-time career who I know very well. Originally, she typed out ESFJ but wasn’t totally satisfied. Hopefully, reading our email exchange will solidify your choice of a major preference as well as illustrate the simplicity of the blooming of understanding to insight and joy.
Ruth, I know with absolute certainty that I am structured, and my husband spontaneous. I still go back and forth on Sensing and Intuitive.
Actually, Julia, the Sensing segment usually cares little about their MBTI letters. They are interested and helped by the information on understanding different personalities and learning communication skills, but hands-on projects and finances appeals to them more. Intuitives are more interested in improving how people view them. Here are added facts to help your decision: · Intuitives want to improve situations. People bring their personal problems to them.
· As good multitaskers they are impressed when they successfully juggle several chores.
· They prefer to ask questions as they listen to a lecture, rather than wait for the end of the lecture because they like to get an answer while it’s on their mind and before the subject is changed.
· Intuitives have multiple reasons for whatever they do, and their reasons may change because they forget what reason they gave at first. People sometimes think they lie just because they give different reasons.
· Intuitives are good at zig-zagging, attempting to master dodging approaching problems.
Julia, perhaps you are ENFJ. Go to my blog, choose profiles on the menu side-bar. Scroll down to ENFJ. I know you are decisive but I think you also get hurt feelings easily, although you cover them well.
Yes, I’m more Intuitive than Sensing, and I am on the line between Thinking and Feeling. When I am in a fight with someone, I definitely get angry first and hurt later. When I think about Thinking versus Feeling, it is clear to me that my husband is Feeling, so my inclination is to say I'm an ENTJ.
Ok, that makes sense, Julia, on why you are able to carry such a heavy load at home and at work. When you thought early on that you were ST that didn't make sense to me with the complexity of your life and how easily you function. ENTJ Type is given to but a smattering of women, maybe 2 or 3 percent. Thinking women, especially Intuitive-Thinking females intimidate feelers, because NTs are tough as nails! They are always in charge, whether anyone has put them in charge or not! They’re people organizers..
Ruth, those comments are more meaningful to me than you probably realize. My intention for 2021 is to build confidence in myself and my decisions. This is very encouraging. So glad you wrote, Julia. I’m always here for you. Ruth
The final step is to ascertain your four letters. Use the mini-review.
If being with people charges you up and you are more positive than negative: E for Extroversion
If being around people is draining and you tend to see the underside of things: I for Introversion
If you are hands-on person primarily, not bored easily, enjoy repetition: S for Sensing
If you ask lots of why, how come and what if questions and like to stir the pot: N for iNtuitive
If you struggle with guilt, easily hurt feelings, have to have harmony: F for feeler
If you get mad first and hurt later and are not easily persuaded: T for Thinker
If you plan your day and work your plan, work first then play: J for Structured
If you let things slide until last minute, then steam it out: P for sPontaneous
With your 4 letters, go to my blog: ruthmcrobertsward.com or Google: How to Get Along with Everyone, click on menu, then, profiles; scroll down to find yours; read others if needed. There’s only one profile that will suit you to a T. If you don’t have a computer, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send your profile.
1 Shout for joy to the Lord…3it is he who made us and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.…4 give thanks to Him and praise his name…5 his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Selections from Psalm 100 (NIV)