Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Growing as a Christian with Diverse Ideas

The Bible is a book that advances diversity in many ways and Jesus was the main spokesman for accepting people with great differences. Jesus came from a long line of Jewish people but He intentionally broke down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles when He told His followers to "Go and trained students from the whole world by teaching them everything He did". (Matthew 28:18-20)
On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came on everyone who had been scattered to the four winds and gave them the ability to communicate in one voice thus reversing the Tower of Babel.

God woke Peter up from a deep sleep and told him in a vision to share the good news with the Romans. Barnabas and Paul were apostles to the Gentiles and 90% of the Christians who ever lived are Gentiles. But more than that, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write in I Corinthians 12 that having different gifts was critically important to the church congregations they established after Pentecost.  

Groups with members that are all alike tend to be dull, unimaginative and stuck. Groups that are diverse in talents, gifts, personality and ways of acting tend to be exciting and active. For many years our teams have worked with churches, businesses and families to help them appreciate and understand how to get along with people who are different. One way we do that is to give a check list to people that allows everybody to see each others temperament preferences.

The check list I prefer is the Myers-Briggs Temperament Type or its grandson, The Kiersey Sorter. The MBTI looks at several preferences and comes up with a preference profile that indicates the ways a person prefers to live, work and relate. These are not psychological tests and have nothing to do with mental health and mental illness. Nor do they indicate one's IQ Level.

Here are the preferences that many indicate we are born with. Before you look at my descriptions, do a little experiment with me. Write you name as if you were signing a check. Then, do the same with your other hand. Which was easier? Which took more energy and thought? What if you had to use the second hand at work all day every day?

This is similar to temperament Types. Many of us are in jobs where we try to use our off hand all the time and we are always tired, grumpy and dissatisfied. By looking at your preferences you may be able to find ways to live out of them more often and be refreshed.


Extroversion: I get my energy from being with people and events. If tired i can be rejuvenated by joining with others. (Some Extraverts work alone  and wonder whey they are dissatisfied.)
Introversion: I get my energy from being alone. If tired I can recover by getting away from people and events. (Many Introverts try to live as Extraverts and wonder why they are exhausted.)

Sensory Perceptions: See the details of the world. Gets information through the five senses. May miss the big picture.
iNtuitive Perceptions: Receives information from random ideas, thoughts, feelings and events and puts them together into a pattern. May miss details

Thinking: Assesses events with analytical, impersonal processes. Asks it things are right or wrong because of facts.
Feeling: Assesses events with personal values. Asks if things are good or bad because of the way they impact people.

Judging: Prefers to perceive a minimal amount of information through either S or N and make a decision about action. Prefers order, structure and closure.
Perceptive: Prefers to stay open to new experiences and ideas without bringing the discussion to a close. The strong P is an exact opposite of a strong J.

You can go to several web sites to learn more about the MBTI preferences and how to apply them in your life, marriage and organization. I am a Strong Extrovert married for over 50 years to a Strong Introvert. When we first married  we knew nothing of these built in preferences and many conflicts ensued as a result. For example, on occasion I would invite people to our home after church. I was energized by the service and people and wanted to have more interactions.

Karen was drained by the service and needed "I Time" to recover.  I judged her wrongly as "anti-social"  and she judged me wrongly as "rude and uncaring". Once we learned about the E/I differences, we could accommodate each others preferences. That reduced the conflict greatly.

People can live in very different worlds in each of these preferences. Those who get their information from the five senses actually see different worlds than an iNtuitive. The same is true of Feelers and Thinkers. One woman told me that her High T husband was not a Christian because he preferred to analyze life in an impersonal manner.

Books have been written about the Odd Couple, one who was a High J neat nick and the other a High P slob. Books and TV shows are exaggerated examples of these ideas but we can see how they impact us through fiction. Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory is an updated Spock who sparred with Bones his nemesis on Star Trek.

Can you see yourself and your family in these terms? List them with their MBTI letters.


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