Learning From Others’ Spiritual Temperaments: Book Review of “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas

A couple weeks ago, in an article titled “Psychology Isn’t Enough, but It Sure Helps: The Need for Personal, Spiritual Growth in Christianity” I talked about a book by Gary Thomas called Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path To God. I originally read it back in 2017 and I’d planned to write about it here on the blog but for some reason (which I don’t remember now) I never got around to it. So I reread it, and now I’d like to share some thoughts.

Book Overview

Thomas proposes nine “sacred pathways” — spiritual temperaments that describe how we’re most inclined to worship God. In the first chapter, he discusses that in the Christian churches we often expect everyone to worship God the same way. The example he uses is the “quiet time” that became a staple of church training and discipleship programs in the 1970s and ’80s. It involved spending 30 to 60 minutes each morning in prayer, personal worship, and Bible study, then having an accountability partner to check-in that you were keeping up with your routine. Prayer, worship, and study are all good things, but it’s not good if we reduce worship to “rote exercise” or assume everyone has to worship in the exact same way all the time (p. 14-15).

I’ve heard the idea that everyone else should worship “our way” voiced more or less directly by a variety of people in churches I’ve attended. Some think churches that don’t encourage dance are not worshiping Biblically; others worry about the people who aren’t committed enough to follow their example of reading the Bible through every year. I’ve voiced my own frustration with song services that have all the enthusiasm of a funeral dirge, saying we need more life in our worship to make it meaningful. Complaining about those who don’t  worship the way we think they ought is a common thing. But perhaps it betrays a wrong attitude. Read more

Need Something New to Do? Here’s What Hobby You Should Try Based on Your Myers-Briggs® Type

The world is opening back up after quarantines and shelter-in-place orders. Most of us are now free to leave our homes, even though we’re being asked to social distance. Still, things aren’t entirely back to normal and many of us find we have some extra free time on our hands this summer. Large social events like concerts and festivals are canceled, we can’t go to movie theaters, and it might be hard to get together with friends.

Maybe now is a good time to try out a new hobby. I’ve been writing a series of posts for Psychology Junkie about 21 hobbies each Myers-Briggs® type loves. For this post here on my blog, though, I’m just going to suggest one for each type. I’ll skip the more common hobbies like reading, music, and art (which people of every personality type enjoy) and focus on some that are a bit more unique.

The hobby I chose for each type is one that I’ve seen at least one or two people of that type talk about enjoying, though it’s usually not common enough it would appear on a list of top 5 hobbies for that type. My hope is that you’ll find some suggestions you’re intrigued by but haven’t tried yet. Also, don’t hesitate to borrow a hobby suggestion from one of the other types. Who knows; you might find that hobbies other people love give you a fun new experience.

ENFJ — Local Exploration

Many ENFJs enjoy meeting new people, but something you might not have thought of is how much fun it could be to “meet” new places. Travel and exploration is a favorite hobby of some ENFJs, and you can even do that close to home. I’m pretty sure there are at least a few small towns, parks, tourist attractions, or other intriguing locations in your local area that you haven’t explored yet.

INFJ — Target Practice

This is the hobby that surprised me most when I was researching how other INFJs spend their free time. I came across several INFJs talking about how much they enjoyed archery, skeet shooting, and related hobbies. Most mentioned that they shoot at targets rather than going hunting. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised considering how intrigued I am by archery. So if you’re an INFJ looking for a new hobby, perhaps you’ll want to give this one a try. Read more

Psychology Isn’t Enough, but It Sure Helps: The Need for Personal, Spiritual Growth in Christianity

Someone once asked me if there are any aspects of Myers-Briggs® theory that I disagree with. I told them that my main issues have to do with ways it can be misused rather than with the actual theory. But as much as I like this type theory, I also acknowledge that it’s not a complete system for personal growth or even personality. Myers-Briggs® theory just describes how your mind works by talking about the psychological functions that you use most comfortably.

You can use type theory to help you develop those psychological functions, but they’re still not the whole story of your personality. There are other things we layer on top of that like personality traits, lived experiences, and personal beliefs. The functions are like a canvas we paint on; a foundation for building. They’re not the only things that make us who we are.

One of the dimensions that a system of psychological type does not cover is spirituality. That’s not to say that psychologists like Jung (whose work Myers-Briggs® theory is based on) would have denied there’s an essential spiritual component to humans. Far from it! It’s just that type psychology wasn’t designed to be a path in and of itself for spiritual growth. For that, we need something else.

A Connection Between Psychology and Spirituality

I had the idea to write this post last week, when I was listening to a podcast from Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge of Personality Hacker. They’d recently attended an Enneagram workshop where one of the hosts, Uranio Pae, made the statement, “Spiritual work without psychological work is dangerous. Psychological work without spiritual work is incomplete.”

Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Does Personality Type Change Over Time?

Whether or not your personality type can change is quite a point of debate in the Myers-Briggs® community. Officially, Myers-Briggs® theory holds that your personality type is inborn and does not change. In other words, you cannot start out as an ISFP and then transform into an ESFJ (or any other types) over the course of your life.

Practically, though, we know that people take personality tests all the time and get different results. It’s one of the big arguments leveled against Myers-Briggs® theory — that the tests don’t deliver consistent results and are therefore not valid, repeatable, or scientific. On top of all that, you might have seen articles about new research over the last few years that indicates your personality can change over your lifetime. How do we make sense of all that in relation to type theory?

Personality Traits vs. Personality Type

On the surface, it seems that Myers-Briggs® disagrees with psychology studies that say personality can and does change. But when you take a closer look, you’ll see there’s not really a disconnect. There’s a big difference between personality traits and personality type. The personality model that most psychologists favor today is called Big Five. It includes five key traits — extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, contentiousness, and openness.

Where you fall on these traits can change, though they’re considered relatively stable. When change happens it tends to do so gradually over many years (change is more likely and more rapid when something significantly life-changing occurs, such as  a traumatic experience) . We also tend to be more stable in some traits and less stable in others. You can read more about this in the following articles: Read more

Myers-Briggs Types of the Characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender — Azula, Iroh, Mai, Ty Lee, and Zuk

Since Avatar: The Last Airbender is now on Netflix, I was able to watch it for the first time. We didn’t have TV growing up so it wasn’t part of my childhood, but now I understand what the hype was all about. And with people who loved the series when it first came out re-watching it as well, this seems a perfect time to take a look at the personality types of the characters in this series.

This was turning into an enormous blog post, so I decided to split it in two. In this post, I’m talking about the Fire Nation characters — Azula, Iroh, Mai, Ty Lee, and Zuko. Part One post was about the Team Avatar characters, and you can click here to read that (yes, I know Zuko could go in both posts, but I put him here so there’d be five characters for each).

You’ll notice as I talk about each type that I reference functions. In Myers-Briggs® theory, functions refer to the mental processes that each type prefers to use. If you’re not familiar with functions or want a refresher,  you can check out my post “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever” and Susan Storm’s post “The Cognitive Functions – What Are They?” Usually when I type fictional characters I research other people’s typings as well, but for this post I chose to approach the characters with fresh eyes. I haven’t read any other articles about the Myers-Briggs® types of Avatar characters.

Myers-Briggs Types of the Characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender | LikeAnAnchor.com
Image credit: Bryan Konietzko

Azula — ENTJ

Typing insane, villainous characters might not be the best idea since at some point it tends to degenerate into stereotypes about the worst aspects of a certain type. I’m hoping, though, that there are enough clues about Azula’s type in the episodes before she looses it to come up with a pretty good guess at her personality type. I also relied heavily on Susan Storm’s article “The Evil Versions of Every Myers-Briggs® Personality Type,” which was very helpful in coming up with this typing. Read more

Myers-Briggs Types of the Characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender — Aang, Katara, Sokka, Suki, and Toph

Many of my friends my age and a bit younger watched Avatar: The Last Airbender when they were kids. We didn’t have TV growing up so I missed that, but now Netflix has made it possible for me to find out what the hype was all about. And with people who loved the series when it first came out re-watching it as well, this seems a perfect time to take a look at the personality types of the characters in this series.

This was turning into an enormous blog post, so I decided to split it in two. In today’s post, I’m talking about the “Team Avatar” characters — Aang, Katara, Sokka, Suki, and Toph. In the next post, I’ll be talking about the Fire Nation characters (yes, I know Zuko could go on both posts, but if I put him in part two there’ll be five characters for each post so that’s why he’s in the Fire Nation group).

You’ll notice as I talk about each type that I reference functions. In Myers-Briggs® theory, functions refer to the mental processes that each type prefers to use. If you’re not familiar with functions or want a refresher,  you can check out my post “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever” and Susan Storm’s post “The Cognitive Functions – What Are They?

One more note: usually when I type fictional characters I research other people’s typings as well, but for this post I chose to approach the characters with fresh eyes. I haven’t read any other articles about the Myers-Briggs® types of Avatar characters. This is all just my perspective on the characters after binge-watching the series on Netflix for the first time.

Myers-Briggs Types of the Characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender | LikeAnAnchor.com
Image credit: Bryan Konietzko

Aang — ENFP

Aang is a character who loves life and sees endless possibilities in the world. He thrives when at peace with people, but also believes in staying true to his personal convictions even when that puts him at odds with those he cares about or with every Avatar who has come before him. He’s not tied to just one way of seeing the world and can see possibility for change even in the most unlikely people. Read more