May 11, 2013

INTJ Versus the World


Ok, so I crashed and burned yesterday. I didn't mean for it to happen, but it did. My buttons got pushed, and I pushed back. I was tired, I was sleepy, I was not feeling well -- and Wham! Bang! I reacted with intentional ATTITUDE!

I hate it when I do that, when I just let my inner turmoil boil over. I am one of those people who simmers, simmers, and simmers. Most of the time, I can turn the heat down, diffuse the situation, calmly and rationally uncover a way to go to avoid a major blow out. Then sometimes, on some days, the heat gets turned up, I get distracted from watching the flame, and the kettle just POPS!

I am so sorry for lashing out at the person I  lashed out at yesterday. I didn't mean to do it, and I didn't control my anger. I regret it, and I wish I could take it back, but the words are out, the intention was clear, and the pain real.

On the bright side of things (if there can be a silver lining behind every cloud), my Father in Heaven knows me well. He knows that the person who pushed me has a certain way of pushing people, that this is a character flaw and something that this person has always known how to do. This person unintentionally meddles in people's lives, and under the guise of care and friendship; worries, frets and fears about things that are not hers to worry, fret and fear. She should not do it, but she does. She has been doing it her whole life, and still she hasn't learned that it causes her far more pain and suffering that necessary.

I don't want to fight, and I don't want to cause this person harm. Sometimes, though, I want her to back off a little bit, just a bit. I want her to stay out of my business, even when I am overwhelmed and stressed. I want her to step aside and support me as a friend, and not be in the middle, making thing harder for me to handle.

Sigh.

I know that the Lord understands people well. He knows me. He knows how hard I work to control my anger, and how I try not to upset or offend people.

My son likes to point out that typical INTJ personalities are like those in movies and thriller books -- the evil mastermind who is determine to take over the world. My son looks down on the fact that INTJs are super controlling, planners extraordinaire. He overlooks the fact that without Masterminds (good ones), much of this world would not function properly. LOL!

I happen to be this personality type. I am a classic INJT (on the Meyer-Briggs personality profile assessment). I admit it, I know it, I am content to be it. Yes, I have my life planned out for the next 50 years. I have goals, and I have steps outlined to get me to my goals. So be it. I am thorough, and I am a big picture person who takes control of her destiny, and makes things happen.

My son, conversely, is an INTP which is often called The Thinker. He stews and thinks things over. I am extroverted in my thinking which is why you will often find me talking out loud (to myself, and to others). He thinks inwardly and rarely shares his thoughts. It bugs me at times because I would really like to know what it going on inside of that head of his. Yes, there are times when I want to knock that head silly and tell him to start planning his life!

God has given me the restraint to let him go. I can no longer plan his life for him. He will be 20 this year, and I have had to let him go, and let him learn from life. This was the point of the blow up yesterday -- I was stating the fact that this is how things are now between us. The other person, a Caregiver, views my reaction as unsympathetic and harsh. I am intolerant, and not caring about the personal side of the situation.

In truth, I am caring and very tolerant. I am also just pragmatic about the situation. My son has to grow up, and he has to take responsibility for himself. He cannot be a baby forever.

I know, I know - the differences in how INTJs and other personality types view the situation is really at the crux of it all. My views are rational, and at times, harsh. I am tough and I am black and white, with very little gray area. I have mellowed, of course, due to the graciousness of God. I am compassionate, and I am understanding. I tend to focus on the reality of the point -> and as always -> the end goal.

Sigh.

There is a reason why God called me to be this way. There is a reason why my brain and my personality are meshed together to produce INTJ characteristics. I believe that my calling, my vocation, and the plans God has for my life coincide with my character make-up. There are key characteristics that set an INTJ apart from the other personality types. God needed me, a very classic INTJ, to be used for a specific purpose. Yes, and thank goodness, He is conforming me to the personality type of Jesus, otherwise I could desire to take over the world (LOL!) God knows that I need the Grace of Jesus to temper my flawed and somewhat harsh and pragmatic personality. I need to be a perfected INTJ and the only way that can happen is to have the Lord live through me, work through me, and accomplish his will through me. Yes, I need to be an INTJ washed in the blood of the Lamb, and functioning by the power of the Holy Spirit, to accomplish his work, in his way, and for his name.

God is good. God is good all the time.

He knows me, and he knows that as an INTJ, I am able to accomplish a lot of things. I am told this often "You amaze me, Carol. I don't know anyone who is as productive as you are." I will hear, "I don't know how you do it all, Carol. I don't know anyone who could do all the things you are doing now, and hold it together." It is true, it is true. I have always been able to do more than others. I am better organized, more efficient, and highly skilled in ways that others are not. I can do a lot, and I can understand complex things, theories, tasks, etc. I get it, I just get it.

There is a down side to all this of course. My highly developed ability for efficiency and productivity comes at a cost to some of the other personal sides of things.

  • I am driven to succeed and will not stop for anyone or anything (values driven versus monetary or possessions). This can put people, important people in my life, on the back burner. I can leave them in the dust, trailing after me, and wanting relationships when I prefer to focus on the task at hand.
  • I am intolerant of other people's unwillingness to take charge. I do not desire to lead because it slows me down, requires too much effort to be extroverted and play politics, but when faced with a choice of leading or being without a leader - I will step up and take charge. This can cause others to feel that I am running over them, making choices without consulting them, and being an overly aggressive, overly harsh leader.
  • I don't take time to understand weakness, and often, consider it the result of poor planning, or a lack of foresight. This attitude often comes across as being arrogant, and that puts people off. They see me as overly confident, bold and at times brash when in reality I am not. I simply am trying to get the job done in the most efficient and productive way.
In short, I leave people out of the process, and I leave them sitting in the dust as I zoom forward, taking charge, and taking control. I make things happen, I get things done. I am not always a good team player. I am an INTJ who has been tasked with a responsibility, and who will see that responsibility through to the end - even if it kills me.

God knows that my personality is a plus. There are characteristics that I have that others do not. In fact, less than 3% of the population share my personality type. Very few of that 3% consider themselves to be religious, and very few would say they are born again Christians. In fact, most INTJ's are atheist's. Most are pragmatic realists who think religion is "Hokey" (quoting Han Solo):

"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."

In some respects, you could probably say that I bear an unusual testimony since it is rare for INTJ's to accept the possibility of an all-controlling "force" directing our destiny.

"I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny." ~Han Solo

Yes, it is hard to believe that this INTJ was personally invited to share in the sufferings of Christ, to worship at His feet, and to come into His presence and enjoy the sweetness of His fellowship. It is magical, mystical, and mysterious - and I am thankful that He reached down and plucked me from the error of my way, and set my feet on the solid rock, the solid path.

He is my God, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

In all probability, given that there are less than 3% of the population who are INTJ's, the reality is that there are very few of us who are Christian. We make up less than 1% of that 3% - and not being the mathematician, I would say that we are somewhere in the range of .00001 percent.

Why is this important? I guess it is just fun to think about the fact that God has called some of the hardest headed people to Himself. He has work for us to do, and He needs us to learn to be a part of His kingdom. Yes, we need to learn from the Master - and probably this is the point of everything. INTJ's do not accept training and teaching from people unless they meet their exacting and high standards. In my case, this means that I fall at the feet of the Teacher because there is no one higher than Him. He is God, and for me to learn from someone worthy to teach me - the only One who fits that bill - is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Weird to think about it in those terms, but it is true. I love to learn from the Master Teacher, and while I have come to appreciate my human teachers, I take everything they say with a "grain of salt." Even my Christian teachers (Pastors especially) get washed through my lens and their words are stripped (parsed) for clarity and truth. Yes, I am a harsh critic when it comes to those who sit above me. I don't verbally criticize them, of course not, but I do consider their words carefully. I don't always believe what I have been told - no matter the source.

The only exception is God. I believe the Bible, and I believe the Holy Spirit as my Master Teacher. I trust the Word of the Lord over the word of man, and I rest in the knowledge and understanding that He alone is perfect, and that He alone has the position and authority to tell me what to do, and how to do it.

The rest -> well, I struggle with daily. I do my best, and in my flawed and imperfect way, fail to live up to the standard He has set for me (all of us). I fail miserably, and I use my words in ways to hurt people when I should be building them up. I make choices and decisions without considering others, and I forge on ahead, often blinded by what is taking place on the sidelines. I am boastful, arrogant, confident to an extreme, and dedicated to the pursuit of perfection and achievement. For all intents and purposes, I am a menace and a difficult person to get along with well.

Thank goodness the Lord knows me and He loves me. He has taken all that is nasty about my personality type, and softened those rough edges. He has given me His heart, a heart filled with compassion, and a deep longing in my soul to build up the church. I desire His way, and I let Him lead me - willingly now. He moves me, he shapes me, and he is making me into a possession of his own choosing.

God is good. God is good all the time.

For more information on the work of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs visit: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/home.shtml

4 comments:

Glen said...

Nice to meet you. I am an INTJ Associate Pastor for a small Southern Baptist Church in NC.

Carol Hepburn said...

Hi Glen - it is nice to meet you too! I think it is interesting that you are a Pastor and an INTJ personality type. I read once that there are more INTJ's serving in ministry than expected. Most people assume that Pastors/Leaders would be extroverts and not introverts, but apparently, the INT personality is a big plus when it comes to ministry and leadership. This is something I would find interesting to study from a social science/communication perspective. Thanks again for stopping by my blog. May the Lord bless you as you continue to serve Him in ministry in NC.

mike wynn said...

I also am a pastor of a small, independent (by all accounts baptist) church in NC and I am an INTJ. INTJ is definitely a strange personality type for pastoral work and I have at times felt "alone" in my struggles, but also, I find that what I consider successes are not always seen as successes by others. We INTJ pastors are a rare breed and when I am tempted to throw in the towel I hear God gently remind me "who made your mouth, Moses?" :-)

Joshua Hall said...

I am an INTJ assistant pastor. I've been in youth ministry for 12 years. If there is one struggle which must be universal for INTJ pastors, it is that their definition of success is radically different from the majority of churches. And yes, many have questioned my call to the ministry over the years and I have often struggled with my sense of call. I think often of Moses, Elijah, Gideon, David, and other leaders in the Bible who would be overlooked by the world because of their weaknesses. I am reminded that Paul had a thorn in the flesh given to keep him humble. Mine is that my people skills are weak. It takes constant work to relate well with my congregation, and I don't always do that well. May God bless us with wisdom that we may better serve God's people!