Right now I’m taking Discernment and Gifts and we have been discussing personality types. (Full disclosure, I prefer the Myers Briggs. I understand what it means that I am an INFP. I am a strong N and a strong P) We are looking at more than one system — but, for me the systems seem to have something in common. Every type of person is annoying, though uniquely annoying they are annoying. Usually I do not think much about how annoying people are, in fact I rather like them. Most of the time the little things don’t even register with me, but reading the descriptions of strengths and weaknesses I am quite willing to slap the annoying label on every type, not least of all my own.
The truth is that when people work together, we have to get past the fact that each of us has our own way of dealing with life. Whether you divide people into 4 groups, or 9 groups, or 16 groups, or over 50 groups, we see that there are fundamental differences in how we face life and decision making. There is a lot of balance in working together, but there can also be great frustration. How can we learn to respect our differences while continuing to respect ourselves?
it is too easy for someone to expect everyone to adopt the same strategy. The truth is that every strategy fails from time to time. We need as many ways of looking at the problems that face us as we have available — if we could add another it would be better. Sometimes we need quick clear decisions, other times we have to find a more subtle and adaptable strategy. The process to reach both is annoying to a good portion of the population, but both skills are necessary for our society.
I am left wondering how I can bring the skills of my type to the table and benefit the community without being too frustrating to someone with a different skill set. I am also wondering how I can learn more patience when someone wishes to lock me into a box which is inconsistent with the way I operate. It is tempting to attack, suggest that there are theological issues at hand and that we need to wait on God. (joking) even though I’m right — faith and discernment do not happen right this second, but require patience, I also need to recognize that the world works on deadlines. Sometimes, we need to know what needs fresh discernment, and what needs answered now based on past decisions. Not everything needs decided today — but some issues are not worth hours of prayer and contemplation. Tomorrow, it matters very little what I eat for lunch, as long as it enough to nourish my body. On the other hand, taking on a new ministry could impact the rest of my life. The way I share my faith with a congregation might be forgotten by Monday, or with God’s help — if I understand my calling correctly, it could be remembered for years to come.
I discern and make decisions slowly. I know this is annoying to people who want answers today… just as they are annoying when they demand answers on weighty subjects, or long term commitments right now. I can recognize that some things do not matter — in those, I gladly defer to another. When it comes to important things, if I am the jury — the jury is still out.