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June 17, 2005


Ruth S

Nice post Caroline.

I tend to agree with the main body of what you're saying. Otherwise, what hope is there for any of us.

I like the idea that none of us are constricted by our experiences and learnt behaviour and that everyone is redeemable. It is in the image of Christ that we are ultimately being formed. Therefore there is no room for those traits which we would consider 'who we are' that are not Christlike. But.

I've recently done the Myers-Briggs test and it completely opened my eyes to why I was so frustrated with the group. I've been able to understand that the majority of them hate change. Now I just thought they didn't like my ideas, but, it's deeper than that.

So, it's helped me be patient in persuading them of doing new things. Now, that's not to say that it's Christlike for them to hate change, but understanding is priceless as they say :-)

Anyway, enjoyed the post as always.


Caroline, thank you for this post. It raises many many questions, but also offers hope. And your last but definitely not throwaway comment about the work of the Holy Spirit deserves more extrapolation when/if you have the time.


Oh, I don't know Hopeful .. I kinda think that I'll leave the Holy Spirit bit to you theologians. I guess there is a bit of a problem with the analogy, because we improvise with others around us, but Christ's Spirit is within us ...

Oh dear Ruth, the Holy Myers Briggs .. you can't move in Christendom without it rearing it's ensnaring head! But I would suggest to you that you have used the 'findings' wisely. I don't know if the test told you the truth about you and your friends/colleagues, but you used the findings 'provocatively' - see my earlier series of posts on Provocative Bible (back in April) - and you sought to explore how to change your life. In a sense you improvised with the Myers-Briggs results. It matters not if they were right or wrong, it does matter that your actions gave you new options and opportunities to see what kind of relations these new actions created.


I know MB is based on Jung and his archetypes. One of the issues I have with the "What the Bible says about being a real man" genre is that they chose Jungian archetypes of their own to suit their own agenda.

Having said that I found some of the items quite accurate and useful in thinking about group dynamics and how sometimes we fail to understand others as if we are talking totally different languages.


I'm another one who has found MBTI helpful...in self-understanding, in recognising why the people whom I drive mad are so driven and indeed likely to have the same effect on me, and in encouraging me to work on the "shadow side" (I know that sounds like a Star Wars derivative, but nonetheless...) rather than just saying "That's the way I am.Take it or leave it..."
One priest I know described the Myers Briggs type as his "shoes off self" but the point then is that it is by no means always appropriate to subject others to your sweaty feet. Or is that an analogy too far??


Hmm, but Kathryn are you really like that? What if you've just perfected a performance of life? What if you and I (or someone who lives closer to Gloucestershire) started off an improvisation with you to help you draw different performances out of yourself?

wouldn't that have some exciting possibilities?


well, isn't it all about drawing out the unexpected, unguessed at etc anyway? but if I know how I,or others, might prefer to react, it doesn't positively intefere with that..Interestingly, I'd begun to wonder if my MBTI was still accurate (did the test a few years ago now)till I was pointed in the direction of the prayers for each type...the one for ENFP is so so totally the way I operate when not trying to do or be anything else, it sealed my faith in the efficacy of the tool. Then it's up to me what I do with it.

rev mommy

So where do you find the prayers for each type?
I find them interesting and sometimes useful/illuminating, yet agree that they can be a box that we can place ourselves in -- but without a conversation about the differences between the Intuitive and Sensor, I might have never understood why the way I gather information makes my husband anxious.....


I'm sure that you're right Rev Mommy, any of these personality tests can provide you with some language tools to help you build understanding. the trouble is that they can cloud just as much as they clarify.

I'm not totally against Myers-Briggs (well not totally, I just think that all of these ideas that focus our attention on the person rather than on relating are unhelpful, in terms of creating new futures it is the relational processes that are generative.

Ruth S

Hi Caroline,

... focus our attention on the person rather than on relating are unhelpful...

Do you mean 'behaviour' when you say person? Surely the ability to understand how someone absorbs info and is 'motivated' increases the range and therefore depth of commnunication that it is possible to have with them- non?


but that's just the point Ruth, I don't think that understanding of peoples actions comes from understanding their inner motivations, attitudes etc.

Rather than thinking that our actions grow from inside us, social constructionists suggest that we can 'see' our actions grow in moment-by-moment actions.

We should therefore attend to those relations not create speculations about what's going on inside us.

In doin this, we focus on what actions can I take that will give space for others to create new worlds with me - this seems to me to be so much more exciting and liberating than thinking that our actions are determined by some metaphor like personality.

Colin Darling

Hi Caroline
If you are interested in systemics well it has been hugely helpful to me personally and as a tool in Christian work. I am doing some study in systemics and I reckon it has huge potential for work in churches. I think it has much more to offer than MB and other such tools as it focusses on the individual or group and not fitting people into a plan.

Fran Hedges 2005 Intro is a good overview but I think that part of the useful ness of systemics is in an apprenticeship that develops personal awareness and skills.

Cooperrider's stuff on Appreciative Inquiry can seem a bit strange to Christian worldview but the basic ways of enabling people to co-create ways of moving on together have been successfully used in Christian organisations.

Church Mission Society has used these techniques as part of its organisational 're-imaginationing'.

There are papers about this on the CMS website.

Communities of practice
Organisational development


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