Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
you understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
you are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
you know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
you have placed your hand on me.
This wondrous knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.
I am a Myers-Briggs INTJ. StrengthsFinder found in me five strengths: Intellection, Relator, Strategic, Input, and Ideation. I’m a 9w1 on the Enneagram. A spiritual gift assessment I took once said I have the gifts of teaching, prophecy, and mercy. If being truly known by myself is too wondrous for me and too lofty to reach, these tests are making pretty short work of it.
The question is: why do I care so much? Why am I a sucker for personality assessments and gift finders? Why do I care about who I am and how I was made? A 60-question assessment can’t really tell me who I am, so why do I settle for its results?
Some personality assessments are more helpful than others. Some simply label us. Others come armed with helpful diagnostics or follow-up questions to point us to a better way. But all of them lack two common things: the intimate knowledge of a creator God who formed our inward parts before we were even thought of and the sovereign hand of God to move, form, and sculpt us into whatever He has designed for us. Where we have come from and what we are intended for are two things far too wondrous to fit into a personal assessment test.
The mathematician and theologian, Blaise Pascal, said, “Not only do we know God by Jesus Christ alone, but we know ourselves only by Jesus Christ.” Just a few hundred years earlier, John Calvin opened his book Institutes with these two statements, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God” and “Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.”
In order for us to truly know God, we have to know we are merely dust. We have come from dust and bone and the breath of God, and to dust these bodies (and personalities) will return. We also have to know His plans for us are truly too wonderful for us to fathom. To squash the future He has planned for us into a number or series of letters is a minuscule glimpse of His hope for us. We have to know His grandeur in order to see ourselves rightly.
But in order to truly know God, we also must know we are dust and we must know that what we look like today is not the complete hope of God for us. I cannot worship at the altar of my personality, but I can look at it honestly and ask the creator God to make and remake me until Christ comes again. All my blind-spots show up when I take a test telling me not only my finer qualities, but that I also struggle with passivity, sloth, being critical of others and self, perfection, and a quiet simmering anger. These are qualities anyone who knows me could point out, but having an objective test tell me? Well, that’s personal. And that’s a good thing.
I cannot know God unless I know myself and I cannot know myself unless I know God. I have to know God as creator, redeemer, and the source of my joy, and know myself as made in his image, but still being sanctified through any and every means he intends. A personal assessment can be one of those means as long as the results don’t terminate with us. They have to lead us to greater knowledge of self which leads us to greater knowledge of God which leads to greater knowledge of self which leads to greater knowledge of God. It’s a continuous cycle leading us to the day when healthy introspection is no longer necessary because we will forever only look at Him.
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