Personality Types and Discipleship

Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, Phlegmatic.  Or, said differently – Golden Retriever, Lion, Beaver, Otter.  Personality types!  Do you know which one you are?

I am a fan of using personality type testing in discipleship relationships, including small groups, marriage and family counseling, ministry teams, and many other settings.  Here’s why:

  • First, it’s fun!  Women love answering little quizzes about themselves and discovering what the results say.  I don’t know if men derive the same joy or not…
  • They don’t take very long.  In less than fifteen minutes you can have a reasonably accurate picture of how you’re wired.
  • The joy of discovery.  I continue to be amazed at how significant a type profile can be.  The first time I read through my type description I was excited – I felt like finally someone understood how I was thinking.  I was also comforted – I am not the only person in the world who thinks this way.  And I was humbled – because the profile was so accurate in revealing my strengths and also my weaknesses.
  • It gives us a vocabulary.  We need words and a framework for explaining ourselves… and also for understanding others.
  • We learn that different is not bad, it’s just different.  This is really helpful in marriage.  Just because he thinks differently, acts differently, and sees the world differently than me does not mean he is wrong!  He is just wired differently.  And, bonus round, I can learn from him.
  • We can think constructively about our strengths.  We are wired to do certain things well, without a whole lot of effort.  Knowing our strengths should help us make decisions about our role in ministry, service, organizations, teams, and even within the family.
  • We can be intentional about tackling our weaknesses.  While we may be “wired that way”, we do not have to throw our hands in the air and loudly proclaim “I’ll always be that way!”  Rather, our weaknesses are specific areas where we have the opportunity to grow and overcome challenges with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Our weaknesses are rather like a To Do List for spiritual growth.

During our premarital counseling I think my husband and I took every type test known to man – Myers Briggs, Firo B, Taylor Johnson, DISC, and more.  Fifteen years of marriage later I will tell you that the type testing was invaluable – for our understanding of ourselves, each other, the vocabulary, and our strengths and weaknesses.   It’s also why we continue to encourage personality type testing in discipleship.  Yes, it’s a secular tool, but a valuable one!

Tests and resources are available on my Resources page

Take the test electronically here

Several authors have written extensively about personality types – Tim and Beverly LaHaye (“New Spirit Controlled Woman”), Florence Littauer (“Personality Plus”), and Gary Smalley (types and marriage).WiredThatWay

We have chosen to read Dr. Marita Littauer’s new book “Wired That Way” because it is gender neutral, includes the four main types and the 16 blended types, is very practically focused, and is explicitly Christian.

Have your used or benefitted from personality type testing in ministry?  Tell us about it!

2 thoughts on “Personality Types and Discipleship

  1. I often use the Enneagram. It’s different from the other typing systems in that there are levels of spiritual and personal growth associated with each type, rather than simply understanding the types. I like the free test on this site (though not some of the other stuff on the site) and the information on this site: It’s linked to the classic concept of the 7 deadly sins and the 7 virtues (although there are 9 types, so two have been added, based on other psychological research). It’s probably the most commonly used personality/spiritual growth system used in spiritual direction. Very insightful stuff.


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