Most of us are busy creatures, not allowing ourselves time to look into the mirror of personality type to recognize our natural gifts and tendencies. Educating ourselves on type, empowers us to better love ourselves and others. In the process, though, we may awaken to the fact that we have been living as a fish out of water both professionally and personally.
Ideally, our careers and relationships are perfectly compatible with our personality type, but that’s just not real life. Most people don’t have the luxury to wait for the perfect job and everyone encounters challenging personalities. Just out of college, I took my first job without considering my personality type (and lack of skills). With personality education in my early twenties, I would have likely avoided working in a dental office! This “ENFJ” personality sees the big picture, misses details, and needs to feel needed, loved, and appreciated. Ironically, I found myself stuck in a world of important details and mundane procedures, with my incompetence inviting much deserved criticism! One particularly embarrassing day, I inadvertently sucked a poor patient’s cotton swap into my hand-held vacuum punctuated with an extraverted “oops!” With that wake-up call, I found a new job, where I could use at least a few of my natural abilities and avoid scaring future patients!
According to Type Theory, we have access to all letters of the types but working outside our preferred type feels like signing our name with our non-dominant hand, like my dental office job experience, where I felt incompetent, awkward, and frustrated. The result doesn’t look pretty either. Operating within our preferred type, on the other hand, (pun intended) is effortless and automatic. If we practice long enough, as our non-dominant signature will improve, as can we can develop skills outside of our personality type, but it will always be an effort.
As Christians, we have more hope than just practicing and trudging through. With the gift of The Holy Spirit, God does things through us that we could not do by ourselves. When the His Spirit is infused in our personalities, God is glorified even in our weakness. Especially in our weakness.
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly for my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Corinthians 12:9
If you are currently swimming against the current of your God-given personality in your career or relationship, then take courage, because there is hope.
Ask another type for help.
“Two are better than one, because they have a reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10
Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is to enlist an opposite personality type to help coach you through specific challenges. If money allows, outsource your most taxing projects to leave more time for the parts of your job that you enjoy. What seems difficult and dreadful to you, is natural and even energizing to your opposite type. If money is an issue, then ask the advice from a personality type who can help. He or she can offer you valuable insight and a new perspective for your job and / or relationship.
Make a plan for a career change.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
When you discover that your job or career are more of an effort than a passion, it’s time to develop an exit strategy. God created you the way He did because He has a special plan for your life. Identify the career you love and work toward it. This plan may take two months or ten years. You may only have ten minutes a day to work toward your new reality, but the minutes and days will eventually add up.
Flex, but don’t break.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Personality type education can do wonders for most relationships. Meeting with a trained relationship coach or counselor can bring fresh hope for most personality conflicts. Once you recognize your partner’s needs and tendencies, love and forgiveness usually follows. We learn to flex our non-dominant personality traits in an effort for peace and compromise. Be careful, however, that you don’t confuse abusive behavior as a personality difference or quirk. You will not be able to fix those issues with personality education. If you suspect that your relationship issues are rooted in emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, then seek help immediately.
Pray for wisdom.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
Sometimes you might find yourself in a situation where you are in over your head with no end in sight. Single moms likely feel this way often, because they are are forced to juggle many roles. As a single mom for a few years, I found plenty of opportunities for Christ’s power shine through my weakness! I can remember attempting to assemble Christmas toys for my daughter and praying for supernatural wisdom. It sounds like a simple task that shouldn’t need Divine assistance, but trust me. You may as well ask me to build the Eiffel Tower as follow detailed instructions in a manual. Believe it or not, I could do these things I never could before because of God’s mercy.
If you are in an incompatible job or relationship, lean into God who is there to give wisdom to you, moment by moment. In those situations, draw close to God and “pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17) The reward of a closer relationship with our Father is priceless and worth all the challenges.