Today’s post about INTJ Christians is the fifth in a series talking with Christians of different personality types. I started this series because when I began discussing faith with different personality types, I noticed they don’t all feel equally valued and understood in Christian churches. If Christianity is a faith meant for all people (and I believe it is), then why aren’t we doing a better job of connecting with all personality types?
Our walks with God don’t all look the same. We’re influenced by our backgrounds, variations in beliefs, and individual personalities. And even though the goal is for us all to become “like God,” that doesn’t mean we become indistinguishable from each other. God created great variety in people and I believe He did that for a reason. So let’s spend today’s post hearing from and talking about the unique perspectives of INTJ Christians.
Identifying With Bible Characters
The first question I asked for this project was which Bible characters and/or stories you identify with most. INTJs tended to chose Bible Character who they felt shared their perspective on the world. Because an INTJ’s dominant function of Introverted Intuition (Ni) gives them a perspective on things that’s unique to them, I wasn’t surprised that the six INTJs who shared their stories with me each chose a different character except for two who mentioned Paul.
Teenage INTJ Hannah said, “I identify with Deborah the most. I’ve always felt a strong connection to her, because she stood up for what was right and seemed rather fierce.” Another INTJ woman said she had a hard time answering this question because “There’s a lot of men in the Bible, with women in the fringes often times.” She did, however, relate to Moses and Paul at times.
An INTJ named Alexis related to Paul because she likes to focus on studying the epistles more than stories. She identifies with Paul’s writing style because “Ni likes metaphors etc.; Te likes to-the-point.” Amy chose Solomon as the character she most relates to for a similar reason — “I respect his wisdom and big picture approach to things.”
A couple of INTJs mentioned they relate to Biblical characters whose stories speak to something they personally find a challenge. Kellee said she relates to “Anyone who doesn’t have faith or who felt unworthy – Thomas, Jonah, Jeremiah, Nathaniel.” Hannah finds “the story of Daniel encouraging” because she has a tenancy to rebel when something goes wrong, and Daniel “reminds me that just because you aren’t fighting evil, that doesn’t mean you’re accepting.”
The Struggle To Find Acceptance
Intuitive types only make up about 30% of the population, and it’s not uncommon for them to struggle with knowing how to fit into Sensing-dominated social groups. This struggle carries over into the church. On top of that, churches are often set-up to favor Extroverts, and Introverts can feel drained by the pressure to socialize. A comment from an INTJ called AC sums up these struggles nicely.
“I feel Church is very much geared towards extroverts, especially Evangelical and modern churches. More traditional churches I feel still think women have cooties. I jest but it also angers me.
“I find church very draining and I’ve experienced burn out several times. I don’t want to work (volunteer) on Sundays. I want to sit and listen in peace. And rest. Modern churches, some traditional too, don’t seem to get this. I also don’t want to socialize. I wish everyone well around me and will pray for them and want to. I understand we’re all in this together. But I don’t want to talk about the weather usually and signing up for “x” activity. Activities drain me and I often don’t see the point if the cost benefit is really low or if we’re reinventing the wheel needlessly.
“The whole idea of going to church is weird to me, too, when we’re supposed to ‘be’ the church. This is a huge disconnect for me. Church often seems like a social club even if it’s denied.” — AC
INTJs also struggle with finding acceptance for the way their minds work. Introverted Intuitive types (particularly INTJs and INFJs) tend to be big-picture, out-of-the-box thinkers who can see each topic they look at from multiple perspectives. Alexis said, “My affinity for new ideas are not appreciated. Introversion isn’t appreciated. Thinking outside the box isn’t appreciated.” Hannah mentioned that she sees some churches as so “conventional” that “they don’t think of any new ideas, see the Bible in cultural contexts, just see it at surface level.”
- If you’re a Christian Introvert, you might find by Adam S. McHugh’s book “Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture” a valuable resource. Please note that this is an affiliate link, which means if you purchase the book I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Church-going can also be particularly difficult for NT-type women, who rarely fit into “feminine” stereotypes that have bled-in to the church from this world’s cultures. Ina said, “I think talking straight and not being overly emotional and being female is difficult for the general person to appreciate. Also seeing pitfalls and wanting to plan and be part of the strategy meetings is not always welcomed.”
Meeting Social Expectations
All Intuitive types, especially NT, can struggle with fitting in. It seems, however, that INTJs are particularly susceptible to feeling that who they are deep down inside is not accepted in Christian churches. Social expectations are a particular struggle for them. This isn’t because INTJs don’t like people or are naturally rude (which is an incorrect assumption that many Sensing and/or Feeling types might make). Rather, most church groups aren’t set-up to provide the type of socialization that energizes and engages INTJs instead of boring them and draining their energy.
“As a female INTJ I’m one of the rarest types there is, so I often feel misunderstood and like I’m expected to be nurturing, empathetic, emotional, social, etc, etc. This frankly exhausts me. Women’s events are the worst. All emotional affirmation and no substantial content. It’s shallow and disappointing. I crave deep connection, authenticity, and deep conversation about theological topics that help me know God better. I love when someone gives me the facts, the truth of what’s going on with them, and doesn’t expect me to emotionally meet them, but genuinely wants help fixing the problem. People at church generally want to just chat about how much God loves them, which is true and it’s a wonderful thing, but it’s not always helpful when you need some practical help with how to get your life turned around.” — Amy
INTJs often feel like people in the church expect them to act in a way that isn’t authentic for them. Hannah said, “Being an independent thinker, I have often been called rebellious. I am not a quiet type of person and tend to voice my opinions quickly. … I can’t be boxed in.” Kellee shared, “I think people expect me to act a certain way – bubbly, energetic. (This happens in other environments too, just not church.) But I’m not outwardly emotional, I don’t enjoy small talk, I’m quieter, and I don’t have any kids, so I think it’s hard for people to know how to relate to me. (I don’t blame them.)”
INTJs can make themselves participate in social activities they don’t find comfortable if they see a point to it, but those activities aren’t going to make them feel accepted and appreciated. Like other types, they don’t want to feel pressured to act like someone they’re not. I’m sure they would love to be part of church groups where others value their unique perspective rather than trying to make them fit an established mold, but it’s rare that they find something like that.
- Interested in learning more about how to befriend an INTJ? Click here to read “5 Steps to Making Friends With An INTJ“
Gifts and Talents
INTJs I’ve talked with often find it frustrating that their gifts and talents aren’t always appreciated by the church. My sister, for example, is an INTJ chemical engineer and she feels like there’s little room for her to share her keen insight, problem-solving capabilities, or engineering strengths in our local church group. She has, however, found a way to put her technical savvy to good use on the sound crew.
Hannah expressed a similar frustration when she said, “In some churches, I feel that not much of what I’m good at would be valued.” As INTJs get older, many find that churches value their administration and leadership skills. AC, Alexis, and Ina all mentioned that they fit into administrative roles well. Amy likes these roles because, “Usually I can do them alone and they’re highly organizational which is right in my wheelhouse.”
Organizational skills are linked to an INTJ’s co-pilot Extroverted Thinking, which Personality Hacker nicknamed “Effectiveness.” Unfortunately, people aren’t always very open to hearing an INTJ’s perspective on how to make something in a church group more efficient. AC mentioned that she doesn’t “understand the need for constant activity at church. I think we should combine our efforts and resources and focus on very specific things.” INTJs have little patience or understanding for inefficiencies that could be avoided. If you’re in a church that prioritizes doing as many good works as possible, though, voicing a perspective like AC’s is more likely to get you shunned rather than start a discussion about how to do good work’s more efficiently. However, an INTJ in this situation isn’t saying the church shouldn’t do good works — they critique things in order to start discussion for the purpose of finding ways to do things better.
As a whole, INTJs want something more than to just be put in charge of running an aspect of the church. Many also have a deep desire to use their gifts to help other people. This might surprise people who’ve fallen for the stereotype that INTJs are cold and distant, but the truth is INTJs care deeply about people and long for opportunities to show that care in a way that’s natural to them.
“Nothing makes me feel more loved or valued than someone asking for my advice. Sometimes it’s hard to find opportunities to do this in a Christian culture that is geared toward small talk and shallow conversations, so I never get to hear about the hard stuff that someone is going through and be able to offer my help.” — Amy
“I think I’m a good observer of people. I’m a good counselor because I can see multiple viewpoints and offer an unbiased opinion. I’ve often felt that I could be a good vice president and offer sound advice, but not have to be in public. I’m a deep thinker and love discussions, but need time to process first, so I’m hesitant to speak up.” — Kellee
How To Reach INTJs
INTJs had quite a bit to say about the kind of preaching/teaching styles that connect with them best, and all the ones I heard from are surprisingly consistent. They want to hear deep, well-researched sermons, lectures, and podcasts that are supported by scriptural truth and reliable facts. They want to be challenged by the perspectives they hear. They want opportunities to hear from other believers and share their thoughts in interactive, small-group discussions. One INTJ, Amy, also mentioned, “I do really like when someone preaches with a lot of enthusiasm and heart, because that’s something I can’t manufacture on my own and it’s nice to be motivated by someone.”
On the other hand, INTJs do not appreciate it when people make decisive or judgmental statements that they can’t back-up. They don’t come to church just to hear a motivational talk or listen to someone read from secondary-sources. They also don’t want something “sugar-coated.” One of the things Ina mentioned was that INTJs need “Honest direct communication,” which should be done without “exaggerating or belitteling others.” INTJs want to hear from the Bible and they want to talk about God’s word with other people who value scripture.
When asked how the church could better connect with people like them when preaching the gospel, INTJs prioritized valuing their personalities and not pressuring them to change. In particular, don’t discourage an INTJ from asking questions or expect them to do/believe something just because you said so. AC wrote, “Do not pressure us to be a joiner or to expect us to agree with everything preached. INTJs will question; Jesus encouraged this.” Hannah pointed out, “I like to talk about ideas. So just because I say something contrary, it doesn’t mean I buy into it. I actually find it useful to look at multiple sides of an issue and debate something.”
Challenges INTJ Christians Face
We’ve already talked about several challenges that INTJ Christians face, mostly from external forces at work in church groups. There are also internal struggles that INTJs (like all other Christians) face. If you’re someone trying to help an INTJ with their challenges, the best thing you can do is talk with and listen to them. They’re not going to open up about their struggles or respect your suggestions until they know you’ve taken the time to understand them and prove that you care about them.
In fact, how other people respond to them is something INTJs are keenly aware of. Ina said that her biggest challenge is that she reads and thinks widely, but is not “able to share it with other Christians because they get easily upset and fearful.” AC said her biggest challenges are “distrust and bitterness” because of how she and her spouse have been treated by other Christians. Her personal faith was strengthened through these struggles, but her trust in other Christians was negatively effected. She also struggles with discerning which Christian teachers to listen to because there are so many out there offering contradictory perspectives and/or seeming hypocritical in how they preach the gospel.
Another struggle INTJs can face has to do with humility. In general, INTJs tend to be very competent and confident people who want to become experts on the topics they’re interested in. This can make certain aspects of a Christian life — such as the need to recognize we’re nothing without God and accept on faith the things He tells us to do — a struggle for INTJ Christians. Hannah said, “I have trouble having faith like a child, because, due to my personality, I like to have information. And not having it is a big challenge for me.” Amy described humility as her biggest struggle, and says she’s thankful “that God has put situations in my life where I’ve failed miserably at something, because it reminds me of just how dependent on him I am.”
- Want to learn more about what INTJs need from other people? Click here to read “10 Things INTJs Need In A Friendship“
Why Are They Christians?
Once Christianity makes sense to an INTJ, they typically see no other way to go. It’s just logical for them to follow the only faith that holds-up to their scrutiny. It doesn’t matter what others say — it matters what makes sense to them and what they’ve experienced as real and trustworthy.
This is why I chose Joshua 24:15 for the title of this post. In this passage, Joshua tells the people of Israel that if they don’t want to serve the Lord they can choose something else, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” INTJs are typically tolerant of other people’s beliefs that contradict their own, but they don’t let those perspective sway them from following the Truth once they’ve discovered it. Here are the perspectives of three INTJs, in their own words, on why they believe this faith is the right one:
- “How can anyone reject the idea of God dying for you? So you can be together with him again? This is the ultimate form of love. He never gives up, is slow to anger and is in a small, still whisper. He turns everything upside down. He is the truth, the way, the life. Christianity is the only religion I know of where there is no catch. You don’t have to work for love, it’s given to you. No being reborn a hundred times over. No caste system. No hopelessness of being controlled by fate. It’s patient suffering among others. It’s beauty.” — AC
- “Being a follower of Christ is the only thing that makes complete sense. All other world views/religions/philosophies fall apart with even the slightest bit of analytical thought, but Christianity holds up. It’s also the most comforting thing in the world to know that I am chosen/loved/worthy/etc/etc not by anything I’ve done but only because God has given me that gift. Being incompetent or incapable at something is literally the worst possible thing that ever happens to me, and as humans we all come to those moments where it is undeniable that we don’t measure up, that we are utterly incompetent and not perfect. So to know that in my moments where I feel most worthless God still gives me worth and chooses me and loves me…man that’s the sweetest gift I’ll ever know. How could I not choose him?” — Amy
- “I believe the Bible because it is a light in a dark world. When you look at all the other belief systems, they have unfair, unjust weights and measures. And I don’t believe that, if a god like that was the true god, that we’d still exist. And the whole Bible makes sense! So many things are explained. It’s impossible for the universe to have occurred by accident, for instance. And at times, when I read the Bible, something will jump out at me, really speak to me. I believe that’s the way that God talks to us today, and that’s proof that he exists.
One of my favourite Bible verses is Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ In a world where so many variables are at play, it’s comforting to know that someone is in control, someone has everything planned and designed. I know that I have a purpose here, and despite the challenges that I face, I know that this is the right faith.” — Hannah
Thank you so much to all the INTJs who got in touch with me, shared their perspectives, and let me quote them in this article. If you want to share your Christian INTJ story or talk about INTJs in the churches, comment here!
If you’re a different personality type looking to contribute an upcoming blog post in this series contact me or head over to the original post. I’d love to feature you! Please note: unless you tell me otherwise, I’ll assume that by getting in touch you agree I can quote you directly and credit you by first name (or screen name) and Myers-Briggs type in future projects.