There was a game I played growing that I loved. It was called the “Guess Who Game”. This game had two boards with a bunch of cartoon people. You had one and the person you were playing against had one. The point of the game was to take turns trying to figure out who the other person had selected as their person. You asked questions like, “Is this person wearing a hat,” or “Do they have blonde hair?” With this game you were trying to guess who someone was based on physical characteristics. This game is a lot of fun, but as mothers all over the world have said for generations, “what matters is on the inside”.
A couple years ago the Enneagram Test came on the scene, and it seemed like the whole world picked it up like it was on sale. At first it was just the test, and you could compare with your friends which Enneagram number they were and which one you were. It led to fun sayings like, “Oh yeah that is true, you do think like that. You are such a 7.” As time has gone on, this test has picked up steam with graphics and social media pages dedicated to what number you are. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the test. When I took the test I got Enneagram 2. However, the funny thing about the test is it is a boiled down version of personality tests that have been around for decades.
The Root of the Tests
So why do we love them so much? We as a society, and as people in general have a desire to know about ourselves. These tests are merely a quick assessment of how we approach situations, people, and the world. Taking the test is a good starting point if you are taking a deep self-assessment. As ministers and leaders knowing about ourselves is vital. However, it is not always easy. There are many people that I have met that enjoy being wrong, and sometimes, when trying to find out who you truly are, you realize you were wrong about yourself.
Why is it important?
So why is knowing about ourselves important? This is a topic that could have many blogs written about, (and many have been). The truth is we are all made differently, we have different strengths and weaknesses. When you are younger this is something that doesn’t really register. I kind of always thought everyone was like me. I thought they loved what I loved, and wanted to do all the things I wanted to do. However, the older I get the more I began to see that there is no one just like me (honestly this is probably a good thing). This is why knowing who we are is so important, because knowing where you thrive, and seeing where you can improve does not only help you as a leader, or a minister, it also helps you as a Christian. We are called as Christians to minister to our community, and to the people around us, and this can be done so much more effectively when you know who you are.
What This Is Not
However, when learning about who you are, I have personally seen people make two big mistakes in this process. The first is, when they start to see things that they don’t like about themselves they stop the process. If we are going to look in a mirror to see who we truly are, we are going to see some warts. Part of being a mature Christian is recognizing areas where you need to improve, then handing those areas over to the Lord. The second big mistake I have seen is using your traits as an excuse. I have heard things like, “Oh I don’t need to do that, that is just not me”. Just because there are things that might be outside of our comfort zone does not mean that you shouldn’t do them. When someone is working out, some pressure is put on the muscle, but this is how they build up their strength. In the same way, if we are growing in who we are in Christ, there will be some hard things we have to do. I am reminded of Moses: he tried to get out of leading by saying he couldn’t speak to people. So God told him to grab his brother Aaron. This is why knowing who you are is so valuable; it not only shows you where you can grow, but it shows you that you can surround yourself with people who have strengths where you have weaknesses.
The Bible’s View
The Bible discusses this idea that we are all different when it talks about Spiritual Gifts (This is not a long list or discussion about spiritual gifts.). The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 14-20, “14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts,yet one body”. The Bible shows us that in order for Christians to be the Body of Christ, then we need to embrace our differences. This starts with knowing what makes you you, and how you can best serve the Lord.
Well, What Now?
There may be some of you reading this who have spent years in staff development meetings where you have done everything I have talked about. If this is the case, how can you encourage others around you to start this process for themselves. If this is all new to you there are a three places where you can start. First, take a spiritual gifts test. These are not always perfect, but they are a start to show you how the Spirit has gifted you to grow and help the church. Second, find some personality test and spend some time honestly filling them out. I have already mentioned this is not where you stop when you are trying to find out who you are, this is where you start. Lastly, spend some time in prayer with the Lord. Start to really pray about who you are, and what you can do to live for him.
If you are interested in any resources that might help, drop a comment.