The Dangers & Myths of Personality Tests

Anonymous asked a question:

I’ve followed you for a while. I find solace in your blog. I recently did a Spiritual Gift Test in my leadership group at church. I scored a 23 in Mercy and Administration (out of 25), but I scored an 8 in Faith. The test is a tool to show your best qualities to serve your church. It really struck me hard, as I struggle with what God’s intentions are for me, and what my path is. A lot of the time I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I just don’t know what to do anymore. 

Hey my friend, thank you for sharing your struggle here.

Please know: there are a lot of “spiritual tests” out there, and I wouldn’t trust them all very much. In fact, there are thousands, if not millions, of personality tests and horoscopes and “strengths finders” and “which Marvel character are you,” and while they’re fun, they should never become permanent labels that determine your growth and journey.

I have to ask, who is developing these tests? Is it like every other westernized test with a western bias? Are they evidence-based? And if so, how? How many people have been misled by these things? And in a hundred years when they develop better tests, are we all just doomed today?

The most famous test of all time, the Myers-Briggs, is absolutely not based on any evidence or science at all. It’s also highly binary without any sort of continuum or grey area. And since major companies have been hiring and firing people based on tests rather than interaction, it’s a really big deal that we take a step back from them without condemning ourselves to one singular fate.

In fact, if we take a step back from a lot of books and blogs, many of them can be helpful, but they should all be filtered through skepticism. Authors, pastors, celebrities, and “experts” can offer good-sounding advice that does nothing but sound good. Always, always discern.

If you want to risk it, in Dr. Tasha Eurich’s book Insight, she says the best way to grow is ask a close, loving friend directly for their feedback. (Dr. Eurich, by the way, has done some meaty research to back this up. But again, be skeptical.) One question she asks is, What is the one thing that annoys you the most about me? Or you can ask, What do you think my main strength is? That sounds crazy, and hardly anyone risks it, but the pay-off is very helpful. I do believe God sends us people who love us and know us and will help us see what we cannot see in ourselves. And not everything that everyone says about us is going to be right. It must be discerned wisely.

My friend, please don’t be shook by a thing like this. People change. People grow. Personalities change. And we have untapped strengths. Our weaknesses can get better, and even if they don’t, we find ways to work around them. Sometimes we are simply in a place that is not cultivating our gifts. Other times we are using only one gift while neglecting others, simply because we’ve been told, “You’re not good at these other things.”

Our God-given potential is much bigger than we think. His imagination is bigger than our own. So many of us fall for an idea that “I have finally found God’s Will,” but life doesn’t always go the way we plan. God’s Will is flexible. Some of us must start over again, many times, and as painful as change can be, especially when it’s not in our plan, God is there to guide us into something new.

— J.S.

Photo from Unsplash

3 thoughts on “The Dangers & Myths of Personality Tests

  1. JS, you have some excellent insight into this. It has always annoyed me that churches would give a test to see what someone’s gifting is. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and all of His gifts are ours. He loves to teach us and lead us into all truth. I would rather learn to listen to him and get his input on who I am than take some artificial test. Thank you for your thought provoking post. Blessings!


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