Should believers take personality tests?
Personality tests can give us a general snapshot of a person’s characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, and preferences. Such information can be helpful when putting teams together. Allowing it to decide our identities and our destinies, however, would be a mistake. God has never allowed anyone’s personality to define their destiny or stand in the way of His plans. In fact, human history shows that He uses the most unlikely personalities.
Personality tests are useful for team planning but they have limitations
All personality tests, whether based on self-reporting or scenario-assessment, are man-made. Even the most thoughtfully designed ones will be prone to some human bias, self-deception, and projection (we project what we desire). Also, see The subconscious ways we deceive ourselves
Plus, there are things that personality tests will not be able to capture, such as a person’s ethics and values, or how some personality traits manifest more strongly in different scenarios. No one behaves in exactly the same way in all situations.
An example is the apostle Paul. In person, Paul was not the most eloquent or forceful personality, yet his letters to the early churches were “weighty and strong”.
2 Corinthians 10:9-10 ESV I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”
When the Holy Spirit filled the early disciples, they became uncustomarily bold. It may have appeared as if they developed different personalities.
Acts 4:31 ESV. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:13 ESV Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Personality tests can provide a snapshot of the qualities we exhibit, but they are not set in stone. Only 30% to 60% of our personality traits are inherited genetically through the DNA we receive from our parents. The rest of our personality is influenced by our life experiences.
Our personalities are not meant to be static. We are meant to change and transform, because God has predestined us to become more and more like His Son.
Romans 8:29 ESV For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Zeal and love for God transform our personalities. That is one of the best testimonies about Jesus we can give others as believers, because only God can transform a person to be more Christ-like from the inside out.
God is not limited by our personalities
The world can pigeonhole us into certain personality traits.
Extroverts, for example, are expressive, talkative, outgoing, and more adventurous, and the world deems them to be better leaders than introverts who are quieter, more reserved, and thoughtful. Introverts are deemed to be better at jobs that are behind-the-scenes.
This, however, is not how God works. God chooses people for His Kingdom work based the destiny He has determined for us, rather than our traits. Here are some examples.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
A likely extrovert, the apostle Peter tended to be brash and impulsive. He often spoke too soon. Yet God chose Peter to be the rock upon which He would build His church on earth.
John 13:8-9 ESV Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
Matthew 16:18 ESV And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
A likely introvert, Moses was a very meek man who stuttered in his speech. Yet this is the man God chose to led His people out of slavery into the Promised Land.
Numbers 12:3 ESV Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.
Gideon was an introverted, timid man. He saw himself as the least of the least, but God had pre-destined Gideon to be a “mighty man of valour” who would defeat Israel’s enemy, the Midianites.
Judges 6:12,15-16 ESV And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
Jeremiah was ordained by God to be a “prophet to the nations” even before he was conceived inside his mother’s womb. God called Jeremiah to begin his role as a prophet when he was only a youth.
Jeremiah 1:4-7 ESV Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
We see that God chooses unlikely candidates to manifest His glory and power, “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 ESV For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
We shouldn’t let anyone, apart from God, tell us who we are
Individually, we form different parts of the body of Christ.
The personality of someone who is called to be the mouthpiece of God will be different from the personality who is called to be His hands or His eyes. The eye should not tell the mouth to become more like it, and vice versa. We ought not to judge, critique, and reject one another’s personalities. Rather, we ought to understand which part of Christ’s body we are individually created to be and celebrate that, because that will glorify God.
1 Corinthians 12:12-15,18-20 ESV For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If 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… But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
God created everyone of us for His glory, including how our personalities are wired. Every one of us has some rough edges in our personalities which the Lord will refine as we follow Him, but we need to remember that God does not make mistakes. Every person has been created in God’s image. We anger God when we think we know what’s best for someone’s personality and judge or condemn them.
Isaiah 43:7 NLT Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”
Romans 14:10-13 ESV Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
James 3:8-10 ESV but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
1. People’s opinions of our personality
Some of us have had other people tell us that there are flaws in our personalities — whether for well-founded or baseless reasons — and that we need to change or improve. Perhaps we were told to be less boisterous and more quiet, or more forceful and less considered. We can feel stressed when people we respect and want to please make such comments about us.
So, we try to change and “fake it til we make it.” But there is the danger that we eventually fall into depression because we live hypocritically and contrary to who God created us to be. This hurts us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Psalm 139:13-15 ESV For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
As believers, we are meant to conform more into the image of Christ, rather than the image that the world casts for us.
2. Satan’s opinion of our personality
One other way the world tries to mould our personalities is through horoscopes, zodiac signs, or tarot cards — which are all steeped in witchcraft. Also, see What is your horoscope?
Isaiah 47:13,11 ESV You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you. … But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing.
Astrology attempts to tell people their personality and destiny, their ideal life partners, the things they should do or wear, etc. It is not the one true God they listen to and obey, but Satan who deceives the whole world.
Revelation 12:9 ESV And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
People were never created to place their identities beneath the signs of animals or objects. We are all created in God’s image. When people “exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” we bring a curse upon ourselves. The Bible says God will give us up and that we will become “futile in our thinking, and darkened in our hearts.”
Genesis 1:26 ESV Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Romans 1:21-25 ESV For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
We should never give Satan a foothold in our lives to tell us who we are, because this brings a curse that can carry on for our entire lives. If we have ever dabbled in or consulted tarot cards, horoscopes, zodiac signs or the like, there is still time to repent and ask God for forgiveness. God is merciful and compassionate, and will release us from the darkness we unwittingly brought into our lives as well as the lives of our family members. Also, see A prayer to break off curses from horoscopes and the zodiac
Ephesians 4:27 ESV and do not give the devil a foothold.
The things that impact our personalities
Because God has given each of us a self-will, there are certain personality traits that we can choose to put on, such as being compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, gracious, and forgiving.
Colossians 3:12-13 ESV Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Then there are other factors that can impact or alter our personalities without our awareness, because they work on a subconscious, emotional, or spiritual level. We need to approach these in a different way. Here are three examples.
1. Our names can influence our personalities
The names we identify with can have significant impact on our personalities and how we interact with the world. This is particularly true when it comes to names with words that have meaning in themselves, such as with Chinese, Korean, or Japanese names. Also, see Names can bless or curse.
For example, if our name means “full of joy” and this is spoken over us every day of our lives, our spirits will connect with such words of life. The name acts as a blessing over us and we find ourselves being joyful or positive. We become known as “joyful” personalities.
Proverbs 18:21 ESV Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
The opposite is true if our name means “suffering” or “sorrow.” Such a name becomes a curse over our spirits and we find ourselves struggling to hold on to joy for long. Others may see us as a “melancholic” personality or even start to give us nicknames.
We see an example from the Bible of how this can be reversed through living an honourable live and prayer. Jabez’s name meant “he makes sorrowful.” Jabez prayed to God to reverse the impact of his name and God answered him, recognising that he was indeed more honourable than his brothers and did not deserve the consequences of such a name. Jabez had the wisdom to ask God for favour and did not let his mother’s foolish choice of names hold him back.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 ESV Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
2. Bitterness can twist our personalities
We have all suffered disappointments, betrayals, and even abuse, but holding onto bitterness and unforgiveness will invariably change the way we see the world around us. Also, see Recognising and resolving our bitterness
We begin to be more cautious, judge others quickly, envy others for what we wish we had, become quick to put others down and criticise them, and so on.
Where our spirits were once light, carefree, and cheerful, it can feel as if we have taken an abrupt turn down a dark misty avenue. We can’t see the issues of our own hearts clearly anymore, we only see the shortcomings of other people. We become cynical, judgmental, and defensive people.
The Bible shows us that this will cause trouble and defile our relationships, not only with other people but also with God. Repenting of our bitterness requires a journey of the heart, where we choose to forgive those who have hurt us and ask God for forgiveness for our judgements.
Hebrews 12:14-15 ESV Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
3. Witchcraft and the occult cultivate fearful personalities and wicked traits
Witchcraft and the occult give wicked spirits footholds in our lives. It doesn’t matter if we participated out of curiosity and peer pressure, or a desire for revenge and power. The enemy is not deterred by pure or impure motives, all he wants is a foothold to destroy people made in the image of God. Also, see Witchcraft is mainstream and dangerous and Recognising Christians under witchcraft spells
Those who have opened themselves up to spirits of witchcraft tend to become fearful or insecure as darkness begins to form an invisible shroud over them. Sometimes, they hear voices, sense they are not alone, experience nightmares or sleep terrors, and so on. Such persons can become increasingly paranoid, closed-off, depressed, or suspicious. In some severe cases, the personalities that we observe in people may actually be the demonic spirits manifesting, rather than the persons themselves. For example, if they are controlled by a spirit of rage, they will appear to be angry and easily triggered all the time. Once they are delivered in Jesus’ name, their personalities and countenance can change overnight. Also, see A prayer to break off the curses of idolatry.
How to change our personality for the better
No one is sinless, and this is reflected in our personalities. Perhaps we are easily angered, impatient, fearful and anxious, judgmental, perfectionistic, and so on. We all have parts of our personalities that are still being refined by God.
1 John 1:8 ESV If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
We need to keep in mind that God does not judge us based on our personalities or the images we put on for the world. Rather, He looks at what is in our hearts — our motivations, desires, values, and intentions. It is our hearts that reflect who we truly are.
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Proverbs 27:19 ESV As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.
The real test we should concern ourselves with is the test that God will conduct on our hearts. Personality tests may be helpful for a specific point in time, but God’s tests are far more crucial to our eternal identity.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 ESV But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
As long as we invite the Holy Spirit to search our hearts regularly and show us the things that offend and grieve God — so that we can ask for His forgiveness and repent — we will find that our personalities will also change for the better as a side-effect. Indeed, the greatest catalyst for change is our love for God and a desire to please Him.
Psalm 139:23-24 ESV Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Through a living relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, we find that our personalities gradually transform to reflect Jesus, as we become more and more:
- Calm and collected (slow to anger) | Exodus 34:6 ESV The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
- Compassionate and merciful | James 5:11 ESV Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
- Full of grace and truth | John 1:14 ESV And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- Faithful | 1 Corinthians 1:9 ESV God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Gentle and humble | Matthew 11:29 ESV Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
This is how we, as believers, ought to be identified — by the same personality traits that our Lord Jesus exhibited.
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