Galatians 4:9 “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn your back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
Scrolling through my Facebook news feed this week I must have come across at least half a dozen personality tests all calling to me — all begging me to answer their questions so each one could tell me who I really am. Am I an introvert or an extrovert? Am I emotional or intellectual? Am I an Anna or an Elsa? (Okay, I broke down and took that one!)
One test analyzed finger lengths by having the reader match her hand to various images of hands; each hand shape was assigned a different personality type. Another test was ready to label its curious victim as a lion, golden retriever, otter, or other animal. Don’t forget the one with all the letters! And there are always those zodiacs lurking around ready to tell you exactly who you are and how you are feeling today.
So what’s the draw? Why are we (I’m speaking to women specifically) so eager to have some secular psychology test, some dim-witted computer algorithm, or some pagan superstition profile our personalities and define our character?
It’s been said that “the greatest human desire is to be KNOWN.” We just want to be known. In our broken flesh, we want to be honored, accepted, validated, and loved. And for a person who is godless, these tests are downed like painkillers. They are momentary relief, momentary security, in a world of pain, bewilderment, and fear — a world of feeling unknown.
I’ve been there myself. Before Christ, I was a junkie for this stuff. I loved my daily “horror-scope” and was especially eager to read the “love and romance” section. Why? Because when you’re lonely, when you don’t know a thing about God, His providence, sovereignty, sufficiency, and most of all His love, you reach for these things to soothe. It was a comfort to believe, even for a moment, that someone or something was steering my ship — that fate, chance, astrology, or even science could give me some direction and navigation through this life.
So, to say the least, it troubles me when churches pander to these tests, administering them in a veiled attempt to help believers discover their spiritual gifts, identity, and purpose. When churches are able to extract your “spiritual gift” by means of some sort of personality test, they can then (for lack of a better term) plug you in to their system. And before you know it, you’re sporting that “hello my name is” sticker as the new greeter, or you’re behind the coffee counter serving up that “Holy Grounds” or “He-Brews” cuppa. And you, you ESFP, you’re now on the drama team– hope you memorized your lines! Why are churches today using these secular and man-made tests and tools? Why are they looking anywhere but to His divine power for anything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)?
As Christians, ladies, we must reject this false teaching. Say it with me, “I am a daughter of royal birth. My Father is King of Heaven and Earth.” What more, in Heaven and Earth, do we need when our Father is the Most High God?! We must not search anywhere but Scripture for our purpose, calling, gifting, and direction. For “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Nothing about these personality tests are biblical or God-glorifying. And here are some reasons why.
1. Personality tests put the focus on self-identity and not on our chief end.
Essentially, personality tests are egocentric. When we are self-focused we don’t see or appreciate the greater scope of God’s mighty, sovereign, and providential work in our lives. It’s a form of pride to be preoccupied with self-identification, covertly seeking one’s own glory. However, when I look beyond myself and I realize God’s plan for me isn’t really about me — it’s about Him and His glory, then my striving in this life should only be this: to be less like myself (or whatever best version of myself that may be) and more like Christ (John 3:30; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1). Once we realize that creation, salvation, and consummation are all to be “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6a, 12, 14), then a personality test will just look like a ridiculous waste of time.
This truth should bring you a great sense of peace, dear sister. The heavy yoke of “finding yourself” is off your shoulders because you have already been found! Rest in this. Meditate on it.
2. Personality tests stunt sanctification.
As we grow in the Lord we change to be more like Christ. These tests have a way of holding us back and pigeon-holing us to a place that might not be in line with God’s will and ultimate plan for our lives. Furthermore, it sets us up to neglect obeying God in areas that (some silly tests said) are “not within our gifting” and robs us of the blessing of serving as needs arise, as God calls. We must understand that our spiritual gifting is far less of a concern of God than our obedience. We must not operate within some comfortable sphere that some test has insulated.
3. Personality tests put man’s wisdom above God’s wisdom.
This is similar to the above point. We must remember that His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Sometimes secular psychology and man’s wisdom can seem very smart and very alluring. When it comes to parenting I’ve found myself fighting the desire to scour the internet for advice. But I know that there is no wisdom of man that can beat-out the Wisdom of God found in Scripture (1 Cor. 1:18-31). His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30).
4. Personality tests reinforce and perpetuate a lack of trust in God.
When we are looking to a man-made test for validation of our identity and worth we demonstrate distrust because we are looking to every other place except Him. We were made in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27), and in salvation, we are re-made as new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Therefore, our sole identity as believers is in Jesus Christ Himself.
5. Personality tests are man’s attempt to undermine God in His power, glory, authority, wisdom, sovereignty, faithfulness, and love.
This last point culminates all previous points. If you remember nothing else, remember this.
Here’s my final thought, earlier I quoted the secular maxim, “The greatest human desire is to be KNOWN.” To a secular worldview the assumption is to be known by other people. For Christians, this must not be our concern whatsoever. The Bible teaches that we must die to self. It teaches that we will be rejected and persecuted for our beliefs. People on this earth will not know (honor, accept, validate, or love) us. However, God knows us. And that, sweet sister, should be all the knowing we need!
“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn your back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Galatians 4:9)
In closing, I have a questionnaire of my own.
- Have you been saved by the grace of God through faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross?
- Is your chief end to glorify Him in all things and love Him forever?
- Do you believe that His power gives you everything you need for life and godliness?
- Do you believe the Bible can equip you for every good work?
- Do you trust God’s plan and will for your life?
- Is your identity in Christ alone?
If you have been born again as a Christian, and answered yes to all six questions, then you are undoubtedly a daughter of the Most High King. And as such, you are hereby exempt from all further personality testing.
God intimately knows each and every one of us. And His desire for us, for godly living, is found in His Word. As for our personalities? We are His children, made in His image. So next time you’re tempted to click “Take the Test” don’t waste your time on vain pursuits, opt out, and turn here instead:
- Titus 2
- Galatians 5
- 1 Peter 3
- Psalm 139
- All of Proverbs!
Oh, by the way – I’m totally an Anna!
(In case you were wondering.)
This article was originally published on March 1, 2016 at Michelle Lesley Books.