Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My life as an INTP

A post like this seems long overdue. Some may say I am "obsessed" with the Myers-Briggs personality types, but I'm no more obsessed with this, than anything else that grabs my attention. I'll provide a link at the bottom (if I remember) to a site where you can take the test for free.

INTP stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving. This means simply that I am an introvert who takes in information my intuition, makes decisions based on logic rather than feelings, and am an improviser by nature. Here's a photo of me improvising from back in December 2008: refers to INTP's as "The Thinkers" and another website that I cannot remember used the title "The Architects". Here are some quotes about INTP's (the bold introductions are mine):

Crazy about knowledge: They live primarily inside their own minds, having the ability to analyze difficult problems, identify patterns, and come up with logical explanations. They seek clarity in everything, and are therefore driven to build knowledge. They are the "absent-minded professors", who highly value intelligence and the ability to apply logic to theories to find solutions. (

Walking contradiction: INTPs do not like to lead or control people. They're very tolerant and flexible in most situations, unless one of their firmly held beliefs has been violated or challenged, in which case they may take a very rigid stance. The INTP is likely to be very shy when it comes to meeting new people. On the other hand, the INTP is very self-confident and gregarious around people they know well, or when discussing theories which they fully understand. (

Oddball geniuses: The INTP is usually very independent, unconventional, and original. They are not likely to place much value on traditional goals such as popularity and security. They usually have complex characters, and may tend to be restless and temperamental. They are strongly ingenious, and have unconventional thought patterns which allows them to analyze ideas in new ways. Consequently, a lot of scientific breakthroughs in the world have been made by the INTP. (

In relationships: Although they choose to keep things straight-forward in their relationships, this does not mean that the INTP is lacking in depth of feeling or passion. The INTP is very creative person, who has vivid imaginations. They can be very excitable and passionate about their love relationships. Sometimes, they have a problem reconciling the exciting visions of their internal worlds with the actuality of their external circumstances.

I've taken a major interest in this for years now. I can often guess people's MBTI after getting to know them a little while--that and their birth order. While I believe a Christian's identity is found in their belonging to Christ, I do find tests like these to be useful, as a sort of "secondary clarifier". Being somebody who has "unconventional thought patterns" provides a lot of moments of misunderstanding, some of them very frustrating--which I admit pulls me back towards *this* stuff, trying to better understand myself and others.

And that's not a cowardly retreat from life--that's simply how an INTP relates to the world. 

Now to get on with it, here is a series of observations:

1. If God is infinite in all of His attributes, and we as humans are created in His image, and different genders (male and female) display different *aspects* of the image of God, it seems logical to further suggest that this is true not only of genders, but to at least some extent also of personality types--that different personalities display certain attributes of God in higher degrees.

2. If different personalities display different attributes of God in higher degrees, we should value and respect others for their uniqueness, because so long as they are in submission to God and obedience to Scripture, they are displaying something sacred--the image of God--in the way they think, feel, make decisions, socialize, plan, celebrate, and grieve. It's important to remember this when somebody is very different from us.

3. My greatest aspirations are not quantifiable. There's a lot of stuff I want to do--but I don't really want to "be" anything. I long to teach and preach, not for recognition but because of the truths that precede me, and my desire that those truths be known more widely, and more clearly. As that same page explains:

Their natural drive to turn theories into concrete understanding may turn into a feeling of personal responsibility to solve theoretical problems, and help society move towards a higher understanding.

That's me. I once told a pastor I was more interested in preaching than in some of the other pastoral responsibilities. He misunderstood me--he thought, that I felt, that I was a good "communicator". What that makes me picture is a slick young guy in a headset who walks on the stage with his Bible and says to himself, "I GOT this". Now, I am a pretty fair judge of my own strengths and weaknesses, and anybody who's heard me preach would generally agree that I am a very effective communicator. But I am not motivated by a desire to "be" that--I am motivated by the Gospel itself, and by the words of Scripture, and a conviction that those words matter greatly. Church programs inspire me about as much as government programs inspire Ron Paul. Big productions to me are "big compensation" for the Holy Spirit not moving--a man-made replacement that creates church busy-ness in the place of wild, untamed transformation. Francis Chan's teaching on this resonates with me a lot.

4. One lovely habit of mine is to isolate myself and then say, "Where'd everybody go?" As time goes on I am learning to fight this by being disciplined in my handful of close friendships...making sure we're staying in touch and so on. Most of my regrets have to do with not maximizing past being more of a mentor to younger students when I was an upperclassman at MACU, etc.

5. My unique thought patterns have been a source of bewilderment, aggravation, and inspiration to others. This is not at all done on purpose--as some studies of the brain can tell you, I'm literally wired this way--the American Journal of Psychology published a a study of brain scans revealing different chemistry and bloodflow in introverts and extraverts, for example.


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