I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians

Today’s post about ENFJ Christians is the sixth in a series talking with Christians of different personality types. I started this series because discussing faith with with different personality types revealed that they don’t all feel equally valued and understood in Christian churches. This is particularly true, in my experience, for Intuitive types (which make up about 30% of the population as a whole). 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 ENFJ Christians.

Identifying With Bible Characters

Three of the six ENFJs I talked with for this post identified David as a Bible character they relate to, at least in part. They identify with his heart, his struggles, his expressive worship, and his depth of feeling. One ENFJ named Nathan qualified this choice by saying, “I relate to the fact that David gets incredibly emotional about relational issues in his life, but not so much his impulsive daring.”

Other characters ENFJs mentioned relating to include the Apostle Paul, who Heather described as “a man of great conviction, and grace and grit” with the ability to adapt his leadership style to meet others’ needs (e.g. “I have become all things to all men, that I might save some,” 1 Cor. 9:22). Gwyneth chose Jesus as the most relatable Bible person for her because “His peaceful ways were misunderstood as rebellious” and “He had empathy for every person.” Nathan mentioned, “Daniel in that he’s kind of an academic/thinker type who is trying to find his way in relation to the society around him.” Kait identified her favorite book of the Bible as Ecclesiastes and said the stories of “Ruth and Joseph mean a lot to me, and Peter/Thomas are the disciples I feel I can understand where they are coming from.”

An anonymous contributor wrote that she identified “with Mary Magdalene, Tamar, Martha, and the woman who was healed from a flow of blood.” All these women “loved with every piece of their hearts, lived with courage, were honest about who they were and what had happened to them, and met each day with an intelligent awareness.” She also identifies with Jesus’ mother Mary, particularly how she “stored these things up and pondered them in her heart.” Anonymous wrote, “I have this drive to understand with my whole being, not just intellectually – but with my heart and soul. I think she might have been able to relate.” I suspect many other ENFJs will be able to relate as well.I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Using Their Gifts

All the ENFJs I talked with have found ways to use their gifts and found support for those gifts within their churches. However, most also mentioned that there were aspects of their personality and/or their gifts that they were not encouraged to use.

All six ENFJ contributors to this article mentioned gifts involving public speaking and/or leading. They give messages, play music, lead worship, and dance. But Kait mentioned these gifts cause some inner conflict “due to the complex nature of the Bible’s stance on female leadership.” Corbin talked about the fact that his musical gifts are appreciated, but only if he stays within a certain type of music. ENFJs can fit the roles their churches offer, but they’re not always 100% comfortable with the opportunities they’re given.

On the whole, though, ENFJs tend to find ways to use their Harmony-focused Extroverted Feeling side to find a niche for themselves. Nathan shared that, in his experience, the solution to feeling like your gifts aren’t well-received “is controlling how you manifest that aspect of yourself. Church might not be perfect at accepting all aspects of individuals, but I think you can always find a niche for your skills where people won’t question it.”

Part of this is going to depend on individual church groups. My anonymous contributor talked about how hard it is for her to use her “gift for making others feel comfortable and comforting them when they are hurting” while “in a formal church setting where you attend a service and then go home.” But Heather said, “The church loves my ability to encourage others and build rapport,” and Kait said. “My ability to empathize with and forgive others, to be social, to create community is really appreciated.”

From the outside it probably looks like most ENFJs in the church are engaged and serving, and happy to do so. While that is true, ENFJs can also feel frustrated when their gifts for emotional connection and intuitive reasoning are not appreciated.I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

How Their Minds Work

One thing that frustrates some ENFJs, like many other Intuitive Christians, is when their gifts are viewed with suspicion by sensing-dominant groups. Heather wrote, “Being an intuitive type within the church is REALLY difficult. I use introverted intuition, I tend to see many perspectives.” This ability helps her “speak across denominational lines,” pick up on motives and agendas, read people, and be more “effective in ministry.” She goes on to say, “However, I don’t know how to speak about how my mind works in church. The church either sees me as a ‘prophet’ or that I’m into something like witchcraft. … My wiring seems to coincide with some of my spiritual gifts, so it can get weird. It’s sometimes hard to know what is my intuition and when is the Holy Spirit speaking.”

The perspectives issue also came up for several other ENFJs, who struggle with people who want them to see things in black-and-white terms. Nathan shared, “in some cases I find myself wanting to be too accepting or compromising. I’d like to keep everyone happy and feeling good about themselves, and I like to relate to people. This leads me into trouble sometimes because I’ll care less about if someone is specifically following God law than I should.” Heather adds, “I see a lot of nuance … I focus on the big picture. I see trends in the church, and have the tendency to see where these trends will lead. I desperately want to ask hard questions that tend to make sensors uncomfortable. My questions are often seen as a lack of faith, and not as a way to deepen my faith. I am extremely visionary and future oriented.”

Another things that both Corbin and Nathan mentioned is that the church doesn’t seem to value “emotionally focused men” (to use Nathan’s phrase). Corbin wrote, “I am told I feel to much/am too led by emotions. When I am feeling discouraged, I am told to ‘just pray more’ and everything should be fine, vs feeling and expressing the highs and lows in a raw and real way (like David).” This is a struggle many feeling-type men (especially FJ types) can identify with. Though men in the Bible express strong emotions, for the most part men in Western culture are not encouraged to do so even in the church. I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Challenges For ENFJs

The topic of conforming too much to others’ standards also came up when I asked ENFJs about the biggest challenges they face as Christians. Kait said, “my challenges are always to not just believe what would make other people happy, but to know what it is that I believe because of what I believe, if that makes sense. ENFJs are natural chameleons, which can (for better or worse) get you praise in a church community for looking like what you’re supposed to. However, I believe God calls us to authenticity and vulnerability about our flaws and shortcomings. Not engaging in self protection though masquerade is a challenge for me.”

A couple of ENFJs mentioned intellectual challenges in their Christian walk. For Gwyneth, this means “Being stereotyped as ignorant or naive. Many on the secular side will try to debate me, not knowing that I was once on their side and know most of their arguments. And it seems to them that I don’t want to hear them, but I don’t see how I could go back to my old ways of thinking after being in His presence and learning so much.” For Nathan, the challenge lies in finding ways to handle intellectual arguments against his faith, “for example the challenges in aligning science with Christianity.” This point might surprise some people who see ENFJs as purely emotion-driven, but personal experience has taught me that many place a high value on being able to make sense of the things that they believe. It’s part of how their inferior Introverted Thinking process shows up in every-day life.

Other challenges that ENFJs mentioned include feeling like they don’t fit in or getting discouraged. Heather said, “I am acutely aware of how actions are perceived. I know how I need to dress and behave to reach the church and be effective in my call. However, that can be really stifling.” Corbin shared that he struggles with holding on to hope and finding encouragement. Anonymous said that it’s hard for her to talk about her faith because words don’t always come easily and her testimony is connected with some personal experiences that are difficult to share. To sum-up, while there are some challenges that more than one ENFJ experiences, their individual struggles are deeply personal.I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Connecting With ENFJs

It should come as no surprise that ENFJs connect most readily with church teachings when there is a relational, emotional component. I hear this over and over from ENFJs I talk with both in-person and for this blog post. Here’s how four ENFJs described the types of teaching/preaching styles that connect with them best:

“Personal/relatable/conversational! I get way more out of a small group conversation than a sermon. But sermons that tell stories and make it personal captivate me.” — Corbin

“I enjoy deep one on one conversation or group facilitated discussion.” — Kait

“I cannot engage without a speaker who can’t demonstrate that they care about God and that their life is more full because of their relationship with God. … I like interactive and discussion based learning far more than sermon/lecture learning.” — Nathan

“I like any teaching and preaching that is deep. I enjoy being encouraged to engage with God on a relational level. I like preaching that is both intellectual and emotional. (Not an easy find.) I love to have small group discussions with other open-minded people because I like to process in a group and ask questions.” — Heather

If churches are trying to engage ENFJs, then creating opportunities for believers to meet in small groups is an essential part of that. For more formal teachings, ENFJs connect best when the person teaching is engaged on a personal level. They don’t just want feel-good messages, though. As Heather mentioned, they prefer preaching “that is both intellectual and emotional.” Kait also said, “I love the theories and underpinnings and the mysticism behind what we learn.” This is also a topic Gwyneth brought up, saying, “I like the practical application of abstract topics, if that makes sense. … I really enjoy a podcast called Moral Revolution. It teaches on sex, love and marriage, but in a realistic way.” ENFJs want their minds and hearts engaged in a way that encourages them to take real-world action.

Speaking of taking action, my anonymous contributor pointed out that it is very important when trying to reach ENFJs that your actions match your words. All FJ types read people well and are quick to pick up on a disconnect between what someone says and how they actually live their lives. If you’re trying to connect with ENFJs while preaching the gospel, make sure that you practice what you preach and present yourself in an authentic way.

In addition, ENFJs place a high value on teachings that can explain why the Bible and God’s way of life matter. ENFJs don’t shy away from asking hard questions and if they’re seeking truth in a Christian setting they want to see that it’s okay to wrestle with tough issues and discuss different ideas. Heather encouraged those trying to reach ENFJs to see “the nuances of scripture” and address hard questions. Gwyneth also said, “being able to know your stuff and why you believe would help minister to people like me.” Nathan added, “Focus on how God’s way benefits people and makes life abundant. For example, I’ll be lost in a discussion of judgment without context for why it is good for us that God is performing judgment.”

I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Why They Believe

For this final section of the posts in this series, I like to let the people I talked with explain in their own words why they believe this faith is the right one. Here’s what my six contributors said:

  • “I am a Christian because of Jesus. This question can be hard to answer for me, because the answer runs at least in part along the lines of ‘I just know.’ But if I think about it a long time, I realize that my faith is largely due to those Christian people who have stuck by me. They are incredible, and filled with a genuine love and empathy for others (including me) that still floors me. I don’t understand it, but it doesn’t change. And as my relationship with Jesus grows more intimate, I feel a hope and peace that I would have never considered possible, and am finding that my heart and spirit are deepening and strengthening. I used to believe that all the pain would go away – nope. If anything I feel everything more vividly. But that also means that my heart is growing more and more loving than it has been. … I believe this faith is the right one also because it is mysterious. I don’t have it all figured out, and that is a good thing. If I could figure it out, then that means my mind would be bigger than what I believe in. That is most certainly not the case.” — Anonymous
  • “Though I don’t always ‘feel’ God, I know there is no other explanation for life and the universe, and no other system that can work well and offer an abundant life like the laws of God.” — Corbin
  • “I believe in Christ and God and defend my faith because the existence and resurrection of our Savior historically, the way I’ve felt the Spirit in my life emotionally, and because no matter how much inflammatory literature I read from contradicting backgrounds, I’ve always been able to explain to myself why it was insufficient intellectually.” — Kait
  • “I have looked at and tried many things. This is the only one that has made logical sense to me and I have also felt Him and His Spirit. No one can convince me that the transformation and peace I’ve had and felt isn’t real.” — Gwyneth

I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

  • “The older I become the more rational I have become and faith isn’t as easy. It always comes back to Jesus for me. His life, his witness. The way he touched and changed lives. One writer stated that Jesus was either the greatest liar that ever lived, or that he was exactly who he says he is. The disciples were completely convinced of Jesus as God and Man. At the end of the day it has to be about Christ. He is truly the anchor for the soul in a time of chaos and confusion. He is a leader worth emulating and worth dying for. He is the hope of the world, a light in a dark place, he is love. There is no one else like him in the history of the world. His life was love and grace personified. Christianity is the only religion that teaches salvation by grace and forgiveness, and not through works. I still go to church because I believe in Christ and he told me to do it, whether I fit or don’t. ” — Heather
  • “All religion is essentially an attempt to answer two fundamental questions, (1) what is the best/right way to live life and (2) how did existence come to be and in what way does our personal existence relate to the broader world more broadly (i.e. what is the universe and do we matter within it and does life continue past our current experience). Science is essentially a system for providing a reason behind our beliefs and an understanding of the world based on evidence that is objective. Unfortunately the scope of science isn’t able to cover everything we need it to in life. For example, I cannot wait upon a systematic study to tell me who to marry. In the same way, science is not able to offer a definitive explanation of how to live or a complete understanding of existence. Because of this, you cannot rely on science and have to figure out what the most likely explanation for your 2 big questions is. Because of the order in the universe, the experiences people have (personal transcendence, psychedelic and unusual conscious experiences, etc), and the fact that intelligent is actually a very parsimonious theory (it is simple and explains everything, even though you can’t test it) I believe that there is a God. Once you believe that, you can assume that the creator probably is involved throughout existence and has certain ways in which He would expect you to act. This brings you to religion and simultaneously generates a problem — there are lots of religions and logically they cannot all be correct. I follow my particular branch of Christianity because if you believe the Bible is true, then my sect follows it most accurately. The problem is bridging the gap between believing in God and knowing which one to believe in. I was raised Christian, so I cannot say that wasn’t an influence, but I follow Christianity for a few reasons — (1) it ‘feels’ right in context of personal spiritual experience and emotions, (2) it offers a view of the world that makes sense within most of its doctrine, (3) its proscriptions for how to live life are effective principles for life.” — Nathan

I Have Become All Things To All People: ENFJ Christians | LikeAnAnchor.com

Your turn! If you want to share your Christian ENFJ story or talk about ENFJs in the churches, comment below. You can also check out the other posts in this series 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.


Hey everyone! I’m releasing the second edition of The INFJ Handbook next week! Click here to get a copy in ebook (preorder now) or paperback format (available after release).

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What Advantage Is There To Using Sensing Or Intuition In Myers-Briggs® Theory?

One of the hardest personality dynamics to navigate is Sensing/Intuition. Part of this is due to the fact that Intuitive only make up about 25-30% of the population. That can lead to Intuitives feeling misunderstood and marginalized. On top of that, because our Sensing/Intuitive preference influences so much of how we conceptualize reality, someone who doesn’t share our S/N preference seems even less “like us” than those who don’t match on the E/I, T/F, or J/P preferences.

An unfortunate side-effect of the challenges involved in navigating Sensing/Intuitive relationships is that there’s now a bias against Sensing types in many parts of the personality type community. The myth that Intuitives are intellectually superior to Sensors and that Sensors will never understand them is now widespread among both Sensors and Intuitives.

However, it’s simply not the case that Intuition is better than Sensing. Both preferences grant advantages in certain areas and disadvantages in others. Myers-Briggs® theory is designed to explain how our minds work. It doesn’t say one way of processing is better than another or invite us to make that judgement. So with that being the case, lets take a closer look at the advantages of using Sensing or Intuition. Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Is Intuition The Same As A Gut Feeling?

I often see Intuitive types describe their experience of intuition as a “gut feeling.” It’s not something we can explain — it’s just something we know. And that is a valid way to describe a lot of what we experience from using Intuition. But if that was all there was to intuition, then we’d be able to describe a lot more than 30% of the population as Intuitive types.

When people talk about intuition, they usually mean something different than what type theorists mean when they refer to Intuition as a psychological function. Google defines intuition as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” We might also use the word intuitive to mean “suited by nature for a particular purpose in life,” as when we speak of intuitive athletes or creative types who “just know” how to do something.

In her book Personality Type, Lenore Thomson points out, “Most of the people to whom we apply the word intuitive in this causal way aren’t Intuitives — at least not typologically. They’re usually Sensates and Introverted P types, whose right-brain abilities the left brain can’t explain to itself” (p. 199). I’ve also noticed that some of the things that Intuitives describe as part of their intuition are actually connected with other mental processes. For example, an INFJ might say they intuitively know how to blend in with different social groups when in reality that ability is tied to their harmony-seeking Extroverted Feeling process more than to their Introverted Intuition.

So if Intuition, in the typological sense, isn’t want people usually think of when they think of intuition, what is it? Read more

Why Is It So Hard For Sensing And Intuitive Types To Understand One Another?

I’ve been informally studying the Myers-Briggs® typology system for about 10 years now, but for most of that time I still felt confused about the difference between Sensing and Intuition. Though I’m usually pretty good at seeing things from other people’s perspectives as an INFJ, I’d have a hard time understanding Sensors. I had good friendships with Sensing types, and I’d protest when people in the Intuitive community spread hurtful myths about Sensors, but I got stuck explaining the exact difference between the two.

I think this is a problem that quite a few of us face. For myself and many others who I’ve talked with online, the Sensing/Intuitive dynamic is even harder to figure out than Introvert/Extrovert, Thinking/Feeling, or Judging/Perceiving. Someone who doesn’t share our S/N preference seems even less “like us” than those who don’t match on the E/I, T/F, or J/P. Our preference for Sensing or Intuition influences us, and how we relate to others, so much that most typologists say you should only date or marry someone who matches your S/N preference.

Of course, type isn’t really a good predictor of romantic happiness and many couples (including INFP Isabel Myers and her ISTJ husband) are quite happy without matching on S/N. So maybe it’s not a good idea to just assume Sensors and Intuitive can’t understand each other. Perhaps what we really need is a better grasp of the real difference between Sensing and Intuition and a commitment to using that understanding to appreciate the strengths and differences of each type. Read more

Avoiding “Us vs. Them” Mentality When Studying Personality Types

People like sorting themselves into groups with other people. We identify with those who share our political views, have similar religious traditions, look like us, went to the same schools, etc. This seems to be a normal human thing. But it’s an all-too-easy shift to go from thinking “I am like these people” to thinking “I am not like those other people.” Now we have an “us” group and a “them” group. And the slide into deciding that “we” are better than “them” is one that has lead to all sorts of trouble throughout human history.

Tackling all the “us” vs “them” issues in the world today is far too large a scope for a single post. But I do want to address how this mindset is affecting communities interested in personality types. If there was ever a group that should be able to avoid turning against people unlike themselves it should be those learning about personalities. Sadly, that’s not always the case.

One of the core ideas in personality type systems like Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram is that no one type is better than any other type. Every type has strengths and weaknesses and every type is equally valuable. That’s a central part of these personality systems. They’re designed to help you understand your type and other people’s types so that you can better appreciate the variety inherent to humanity.Avoiding "Us vs. Them" Mentality When Studying Personality Types | marissabaker.wordpress.com

But even though personality types are meant to help us better appreciate other people the opposite happens far too often. Introverts accuse extroverts of ruining the world and hating us. Intuitives spread hurtful myths about Sensing types. INFJs portray themselves (or are described by others) as otherworldly, quasi-mythical creatures. And the list goes on and on.

I’m an INFJ so I’m going to pick on my own type for a while. I’ve seen topics brought up in INFJ-only settings about how it’s completely unnatural (well-nigh impossible) for an INFJ to be racist or sexist or anything like that. We’re so much better than all those other types that so easily fall prey to attacking other groups of people. Oh, no. We’re so much better than those uncouth bumpkin personality types.

What precious little snowflake hypocrites we are.

I’m sure you can see the problem here. And using one’s own type as an excuse to turn against other groups of people isn’t confined to INFJs. People of any type can make sweeping generalizations about extroverts, or thinkers, or SP types, or any other combination of letters. And those generalizations are often both inaccurate and unkind.

So lets get back to using personality type systems the way they were intended. As a tool to better understand both ourselves and other people, and then to better appreciate them as well. Those of us within the type development community have the tools we need to move past thinking about groups of people with an “us versus them” mindset. We can use type to climb inside other people’s perspectives and learn to appreciate that just because someone processes information and makes decisions differently than us doesn’t mean they’re our enemies or our inferiors.

Challenging Myths About Sensing Types and Inviting A More Balanced Dialogue In The Myers-Briggs® Community

One of the most disturbing trends I’ve noticed in the community of Myers-Briggs® enthusiasts is a bias against Sensing types. You’ll see it in comments from Intuitives about how they don’t want any Sensing friends because they couldn’t possibly understand us. It’s someone saying a fictional character is too dumb and shallow to be an INFJ so they have to be ISFJ (or insisting another character has to be INFJ because they’re relatable and imaginative). It’s assuming all SP types are dumb jocks who’d run off a cliff just for a thrill and all SJ types are conservative traditionalists who’d rather die than see the status quo change.

There was a similar issue when introverts finally started realizing they weren’t broken extroverts. In some cases, the introvert hype turned into an idea that introverts are better than extroverts, which is simply not true. It resulted in stereotypes being used to tear-down extroverts and build-up introverts. We’re still undoing that damage, but I think we’ve finally started to balance out and realize that introverts and extroverts are equally valuable.

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing a similar shift toward balance in how Intuitives view Sensing types, at least no everywhere. There are some wonderful groups out there (like Personality Hacker’s “Intuitive Awakening”) that insist on no Sensor-bashing while exploring what it means to be an Intuitive. But outside those groups it still happens. And even if we’re not staying Intuitives are better than Sensors, I wonder if the fact that there’s so much more material out there for Intuitives than for Sensors is still sending the message “you don’t matter as much as us.”

Sensing/Intuition Numbers

70% of the population are Sensing types, but when you Google individual personality types only 19% of the search results relate to Sensors (that’s if my math’s right — numbers aren’t one of my strengths). I searched each type and compared the number of results that came back. Here’s the full list:

  • INFJ – 16,100,000
  • INFP – 15,300,000
  • INTJ – 13,700,000
  • INTP – 8,090,000
  • ENFP – 5,680,000
  • ENTP – 3,510,000
  • ISTP – 3,100,000
  • ENFJ – 2,270,000
  • ISFJ – 2,230,000
  • ISTJ – 2,080,000
  • ESTP – 2,040,000
  • ENTJ – 2,020,000
  • ISFP – 1,900,000
  • ESTJ – 1,890,000
  • ESFP –  1,280,000
  • ESFJ – 1,210,000

No wonder so many people mistype themselves as an INxx — we’re the types flooding the internet with articles about what we’re like and inviting people to identify with us. That’s great for people with those types, but it’s actually one of the things contributing to the anti-sensor bias.

One of the reasons that so many people online identify as INFJs is because there is just so much more, and so much better, and more in-depth content on INFJs. If every second article you read is about INFJs, it’s only natural to come to identify more with INFJs, simply because we relate more to things that we understand more.” — Erik Thor, “Have You Ever Thought That You’re Actually Just A Smart Sensor?

If you Google “INFJ” you get back about 16,100,000 results. Search “ISTJ” and you get about 2,080,000 results. That’s almost 8 times as many results for the world’s rarest type as for the one that’s most common. We can argue that it’s because INFJs need more support online since they don’t get as much validation in-person from meeting people like them. But don’t Sensing types deserve the resources to learn about how their minds work as well? and the connection of seeing their types positively portrayed and defended by people writing about personality types? Read more