Myers-Briggs Personality Types, people. Not fool-proof but verryyyyy interesting and insightful. I highly recommend taking the test, if you haven’t already, which I’ll link here. It’s around 15 minutes long, I believe.
Mmkay, so three years ago, I took said test and discovered I was an INFJ. Didn’t mean much to me until I read the detailed description about INFJs at the end of the test. I.was.FLOORED. I felt like I was reading about myself and it was so eerily accurate on so many levels but also incredibly comforting. I don’t remember feeling out-of-place as a child, as many INFJs do, but looking back, quite a few of my behaviours then make sense. My parents always tell me that as a child, I preferred to observe other children in school or in the church nursery, rather than interact with them. I was very quiet until around 6th grade and many mistook my quietness for shyness. Even one or two of my elementary-school teachers wondered at my customary silence.
Now, it all makes sense. Too much sense haha. As an adult, my INFJ-ness has begun to manifest itself more and more and I’m continually fascinated at how the Most High has put me together. He has made me an INFJ for a reason, just like He’s made you with your personality type for a reason. However, because of the Curse, quite a few things about our personalities have become twisted and sinful. So I want to talk about what it means to be an INFJ and a Christian INFJ in particular. Like I mentioned two posts ago, I’ve noticed a void on the Internet about Christian INFJs. Plenty of articles on INFJs pepper the web but I’ve only found one or two that deal with what it means to be a Christian aaaaaand an INFJ.
Okay, so first-off, the letters. INFJ. I = Introversion, N = Intuition, F = Feeling, and J = Judgment. I’m not gonna go into a detailed explanation of each of those terms because I want to spend the majority of this post on other things, but I will a link a few articles down below in case you’re interested and want more info 🙂 Basically, INFJs are extroverted introverts with a knack for picking up on other’s emotions and predicting outcomes based on over-analysis…. A LOT of over-analysis…..I’m going to give a bit of an overview about INFJs in general (with examples from my own personal experience as a member of this verrrrrrry tiny part of the human population) and then I’ll move on to what it means to be a Christian and an INFJ because it’s not all pony-rides in May sunshine as a wise man once said 🙂
INFJs abhor small talk
I’m not kidding. We hate it. It’s superficial and awkward and a waste of time. We want to get to the core of who you are as a human being. I want to know what makes you tick, why do you what you do, why you chose your job, why your favourite colour is green, how you felt when your first child was born, what the worst day of your life was, yeah, I want to know it all and I will be listening intently as you tell me. Buuuuut since most people freak out when asked deep questions by people they barely know……I stick to the small talk even though I’d rather know the “real” stuff about you.
INFJs prefer one-on-ones to large crowds
This follows nicely on the heels of the first one 🙂 Since we want to get to know YOU as a individual and are genuinely interested in whatever you have to share with us, we’d much rather talk to you one-on-one, face-to-face. We don’t do well in large group settings. We become easily overwhelmed for a variety of reasons (some of which I’ll get to later), one of them being we can’t interact with everyone on the same level. We can’t give each person our undivided attention. Large group settings are perfect for extroverts since there are so many external stimuli and they feed off of the energy in the room. As introverts, INFJs are EASILY overwhelmed by external stimuli. The energy in a room drains us faster than we let on (because as we grow up, we become adept at “playing the extrovert game”; we learn how to talk to people and hide the fact that we’re fading fast haha because the truth is we LOVE people…just in small doses).
INFJs are overwhelmed by external stimuli
I know, I just said that 😛 But let me go into a bit more detail. Lights, sounds, smells, we process all of them and the more of them there are, the more we’re overwhelmed. I know for myself in particular, smells really kill me. If there are too many of them in one place, my brain gets frazzled because it’s too much to process. Process. That’s a key word for INFJs. We process EVERYTHING. We analyze EVERYTHING. I can’t stress that enough haha Literally EVERYTHING. This is another reason why group settings can become taxing for us. There’s too much going on. Body language, lighting, smells, sounds….people haha We like to focus on things and it’s incredibly hard to focus when five million things are going on around you.
INFJs curate pretty much every aspect of their lives
Since it’s easy for us to become overstimulated, we like our home environment to be as non-stimulating as possible. So we’ll arrange everything just so, down to the very clothes we wear. Since life is so chaotic and we don’t do well with chaos, we like to make sure we are surrounded by the things and the people that bring us joy. Everything is a certain way and we like it like that; it brings us a sense of calm and peace and stability. For example, I like to have the lights dim in my room at home (which baffles my family to no end :P) and have a candle going. Harsh lighting gives me headaches and dim lighting helps my eyes rest and my body be peaceful after a day spent with loads of stimulation of various kinds. Also, my Instagram feed. I’m always curating it so I’ll only see pictures in my feed that are encouraging and lovely and peaceful and joyful.
INFJs are motivated by passion and purpose, not dollar signs
We don’t understand why people are climbing, climbing, climbing the corporate ladder just to get to the top and be the one with the most toys. We don’t care about toys, we care meaning, hence why many of us prefer to create things through art, writing, or music. We care about heart and soul, not about working at a boring job, which is why it can be hard for us to live in the “real” world and why others can find us confusing and frustrating. We’re not in it for the money by any stretch of the imagination. This goes back to why we like one-on-one conversations. We like to get to know people. Real, live, breathing humans; not the facade they put up for the world to see.
INFJs feel things very deeply
Words are a big deal to us. We don’t use them lightly, we mean every word we say, and we like for others to do the same. If you criticize us in any way, we have a hard time internalizing your words. They hurt. Even if you didn’t mean them to. They hurt because we feel everything so deeply. Every harsh word is like a stab to the heart. I realize this may be difficult for some reading this to understand and make sense of and that’s more than okay 🙂 I was talking with one of my best friends about this the other day and she was expressing this same sentiment. Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to INFJs. Words can crush our spirit like you wouldn’t believe. Since we over-analyze and process EVERYTHING, we will muse on your words for an un-healthy amount of time. They won’t leave us. Conversely, words of encouragement can do WONDERS for INFJs. We’ll remember those too and we’ll remember them so much that they’ll give us a blast of joy whenever we think of you 🙂
INFJs over-analyze EVERYTHING
My fellow INFJs reading this will be nodding with smiles on their faces 🙂 It’s insane. We think and think and think and think and we are, in fact, our own worst enemy. We create scenarios in our minds that will probably never happen and we shoot ourselves in the foot so much. This is why it takes us FOREVER to start something or to make a serious life-decision. We weigh the pros and cons, we weigh them again….aaaaaand for good measure, we’ll give them yet another once-over. We don’t do well with spontaneity. If you call us last-minute saying that you want to hang out, we’ll probably say yes (because we hate saying no to people) but we won’t like it. We need time to prepare for just about everything. We like plans. I plan my outfit several days in advance and I’m constantly writing things in my lap-top-calendar so I know what my loose plan is for the week. Although we don’t relish spontaneity, we’re not fans of rigidity either. Loose plans, that’s how we roll.
We re-play conversations in our heads for DAYS. I’m not kidding. DAYS. This is how we’ve gotten the reputation for psychic ability and whatever other such nonsense you’ll read about INFJs on the Internet. We’re not psychic. Only the Most High God Himself knows the future and it’s blasphemy to say that a mere mortal can predict what’s going to happen next and thus encroach upon the King’s domain. So yeah, no psychic ability. But we remember things you’ve said, what you were wearing when you said them, how you were standing, your body language, etc. We remember because we’ve re-played the interaction in our minds like a movie (my dear Class of 2013 has often told me that I have the best memory out of all of us and they’re always surprised when I “remember” things they’ve done/said or that we’ve done as a class…in fact, not too long ago, one of the guys texted me with a question and literally said “I can always count on you to remember/have the info about our class” 🙂 ) Re-playing conversations and events is our way of processing. Which is why we need LOADS of alone-time and which brings us to my next point….
INFJs are indeed introverts
Despite all evidence to the contrary, INFJs are true introverts. We love love LOVE people. They fascinate us to no end. Which is why we are mistaken for extroverts all.the.time. At work, Toby was massively surprised when I told him I was an introvert (see The Office Shenanigans if you don’t know who Toby is 🙂 ). Even people I’ve grown up with are still always shocked when they discover the truth. Invariably, their answer is “but you’re so good with people!”. That’s just it. We’re so good with people that we need time away from them 😛 We need time to recharge and refuel before we go back out and interact with those fascinating lovely humans once again. I generally like to read, watch a movie, or write as my way(s) to recharge. Depending on what the INFJ’s hobby is, their alone-time will obviously look different than mine.
People drain us because we feel everything so deeply. We feel all the words they’re saying and all the words they’re not saying. We notice the way they tug on their ear-lobe when they’re uncomfortable, how their left eye twitches when they’re nervous, how they tense up when so-and-so enters the room, how they relax when someone else appears at the door. And then their words. If they’re constantly complaining and they use us as a receptacle for all their life’s dirty laundry, we’ll get drained even faster. Since we hate saying no, we’ll listen to whatever they have to tell us but we’ll get overwhelmed fast and then we’ll internalize whatever nasty emotions we received and become moody and ugly ourselves (more on the problems with this later). Conflict can make us physically ill. We hate when family members are arguing and we almost always want to jump in and come to the rescue of whomever we believe is being treated unfairly. Unresolved tension is even worse. It’s like the air is charged with electricity and all that electricity is shooting straight into us. We’ll retreat and leave the room when it becomes unbearable, even if no words have been spoken. I could go on and on haha but this post is already pretty lengthy and there’s more stuff I want to get to. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like me to do a follow-up post on INFJs and Christians because there’s loads more I haven’t even touched on 🙂
INFJs are suckers for growth
We’re constantly seeking to better ourselves. To grow. To learn new things. We’re always reaching for the New and setting aside the Old. We fall into the trap of perfectionism because we’re constantly thinking we could have done better or we should have done better (the main reason I was beating myself up for not writing like I mentioned in last week’s post…..). We struggle to revel in our own achievements. We never want to stay stagnant and we don’t want others to stay stagnant either. We see people’s potential and we often treat them as if they’re capable of reaching that potential. Especially if they’re close friends. We want them to be everything the Most High created them to be and it irks us when they can’t see it or when they refuse to see it. When we love, we love fiercely and we’re intensely loyal to our friends, especially our kindred spirits. We’ll love you forever even if you’ve left our lives and our friendship has faded for whatever reason(s). I think this is one of the reasons I care about friendships so much. It’s just another fascinating way the Most High has put me together.
Seeing people’s potential can have adverse effects. We can see good in bad people. I like to call it “seeing angels inside of demons”. We make excuses for people’s poor decisions, for their irritability, for their moodiness, for their peevishness, for their irrational behaviour. This is why we drive more logical personality types up the wall. We’re always giving people ways out and we favour emotions and feelings over cold, hard logic…most of the time 🙂
INFJs have a small circle of close friends
While we get on well with many people, we only have a few that we call our ride-or-dies and even fewer that we share our souls with. This is another way of curating our lives. We only want people we trust in our inner circle. We’ll vet you and then let you in. Vetting you usually means sharing a small piece of ourselves with you and then seeing how you react. If you get judgy, overly critical, or just ignore what we had to say, then we seal that part of ourselves off from you. We don’t hate you, we just now know that that piece of ourselves isn’t safe with you and we don’t like giving ourselves away to people willy-nilly. We’re always testing the waters, seeing if you’re gonna respond accordingly. When we interact with people we’re not especially comfortable with, we “edit” ourselves. That same best friend and I were also talking about this the other day. We keep parts of us veiled because we’re afraid of being too much for some people and not enough for others. We have layers upon layers upon layers and we’re still learning things about ourselves so I can only imagine how it is for someone who’s only just met us haha
Mmkay, I could go on and on and on ’cause this is a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart but I’m going to switch directions a bit now and address what it means to be a Christian INFJ. The Christian bit comes first because whatever else I am, I’m a Daughter of the King first and foremost. Being an INFJ is merely a secondary way of describing who I am. As with any personality type, there are sins and blessings. So say hello to some of the INFJ sins
I touched on this briefly before but moodiness is a large part of what it means to be an INFJ. After speaking with someone who complains and complains and complains and behaves as if they are the only ones with problems, I’m not a particularly nice person to be around. I could write this off (in fact, I HAVE written this off to my shame) and say “oh, that’s just who I am….I internalize others’ emotions and if I’m grumpy right now, it’s because of the one-sided conversation I just had”. No, it’s because of sin, my sin. Although we don’t have control over the emotions of others and how they affect us, we DO have control over how we respond. As a fallen creature, there are parts of my personality that are indeed sinful and that shouldn’t be glorified or pushed aside but instead, worked on. The Curse has twisted everything that was once good and right, not only in the world, but also in us as humans. So although criticism wounds me deeply, instead of getting angry, I can, with the Most High’s help, listen to what is being said and take the good with the bad (because not all criticism is useful….). We as Christians should be the happiest people on earth. Jesus Christ died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we are righteous in Him and accepted at the Father’s throne! There is SOOOO much to rejoice about and SOOOO much to be thankful for. Being moody isn’t an option.
Taking the place of the Most High in other people’s lives
I have had to learn this the hard way and I’m still learning it. We cannot save people. I feel like I can’t stress this enough haha We cannot save people from themselves, from their sins, from their demons. We can’t make them see their potential. We can love them. We can point them to the Truth. We can stand alongside them as they work through life. But we cannot save them. Only Jesus Christ can save them. This was/is such a hard truth for me to come to terms with. Because I love people, I often wish I could make them see the Truth. The Truth of Jesus Christ. The truth of how they can overcome their faults and shortcomings. But I can’t. None of us can. That’s the Most High’s place and we need to be verrrryyyy careful not to usurp it. Special plug for the book Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick! Really challenged my thinking in this area and I highly recommend it.
Using our personality as an excuse for not doing our duty
This sort of ties in with the first one about moodiness. We can all, not just INFJs, plead our personality and temperament as an excuse for not doing what the Most High has called us to do. INFJs and other introverts in particular can use their personalities as a crutch for not wanting to spend time with people or for ignoring people or for lashing out in anger when they’ve been hurt by someone else’s words. That’s weak and cowardly. We can’t use how we’ve been made as an excuse for sin. That’s like when Adam blamed the Most High in the garden. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he said “the woman, that YOU gave me, gave me of the fruit and I did eat”. We’ve got the blame-shifting, excuse-making, cowardly penchant in our human blood and it dates back to our first father, Adam. Granted, we need to take care of ourselves as INFJs ’cause burnout is real (and I’ll get to that in another post on this topic) so we shouldn’t feel pressured to attend all the social events that come knocking on our door. But we need to have a balance. I’m learning that I DO have a say in how I react to those around me and I can’t just sit and stew and say “well, they hurt me so I have a right to be angry”, sort of like Jonah when the plant died and he complained to the Most High in brazen arrogance and so justified his sin. I need to step up and take responsibility and live to be everything the Most High has created me to be, to strive for excellence in a world that’s content with mediocrity.
Thinking too much of ourselves
This goes back to our penchant for over-analysis. After I’ve had a conversation, I find myself analyzing EVERYTHING about it. My body language, the other person’s language, did I use the wrong word? should I have smiled more? did I look away while they were talking to me? was I awkward? did I make them feel understood? do they think I’m weird? There’s an oddly unsettling parallel in each one of those questions: they’re all about me. What did I do, what didn’t I do. It’s subtle but we INFJs can be seemingly others-focused while actually being dangerously narcissistic. We spend so much time in our own heads that we can forget to live. We spend so much time analyzing our behaviour after a conversation or an event has ended. We get so wrapped up in ourselves even while we profess to be interested in other people. We are not the center of our own universe; that spot is reserved for the Most High God and we need to learn to let things go. I need to learn to let things go. Instead of analyzing a conversation to death and then freaking myself about it and thinking the other person hates me, I need to give it to my Father, to trust that He will blow on any idle or sinful words I said and that He will work my awkwardness out for good. There’s a lot of Truth in the platitude “give it to God and go to sleep”.
Phew! That was a information-dump, I know! And I haven’t even scratched the surface. But the Most High has placed it on my heart for a while now to try and step into the Internet-void I’ve seen in my incessant research about INFJs 🙂 He created me as an INFJ and while there’s so much about that that’s lovely and beautiful, there are some things which have been twisted. I haven’t seen many posts which view being an INFJ through a balanced lens, much less the lens of the Bible. Too often, the things I’ve read have always placed the blame on other people and told the INFJ to embrace who they are whole-heartedly and to never let anyone else tell them there’s something wrong with how they act. That’s not Biblical because we humans aren’t perfect.
My personality type is not THE defining characteristic about who I am. It’s something I find intensely fascinating (probably because I’m an INFJ hahaha) and it’s something I enjoy researching and learning more about but it’s not the core of my existence. Finding out I’m an INFJ has for SUREEEE yes helped me understand bits of myself that I found confusing or just weird and things that I didn’t feel comfortable telling people because they would generally look at me like I was both confusing and weird 😛 My “discovery” has opened my eyes to the fact that we all really are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139 has always been my favourite psalm and now it holds so much more meaning for me since my discovery. The Most High knew EXACTLY what He was doing when he made each one of us. He made us the way we are for a reason and I’m slowly still discovering more of what that reason is for me 🙂 I know it’s to glorify Him but it’s also to use my INFJ strengths and peculiarities to help others and bring encouragement and hope where I can.
So go out there, find out who the Most High has created you to be and why He’s given you the talents and abilities you have. And then be magnificent 🙂
Link to a really good blog post about INFJs!!!! 🙂
| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❤ |