Learning to Lead – Just Do It!

14 Apr

Various people have different ideas about leadership. I have heard some people say that great leaders are born and not made, and different people say that great leaders are made and not born. Our society is quick to label people and classify them according to useful function: “Leader.” “Follower.” “Innovator.” “Team player.” While there’s a certain degree of truth to these, I think if we blindly buy into it, we are seriously crippling ourselves, as well as the people we run with.

A recent post by the inimitable David Sliker sent me on a little excursion — again — into the world of personality tests. I enjoy these things way too much. I don’t really look at them in an, “Oh, maybe I will at last discover myself!” way. I look at them in a, “Hmm, I wonder if this thing is even remotely accurate?” way. I take the test as honestly as possible, secretly hoping it will come back with some bogus answer that I will consequently get to laugh at. Since I feel like I know myself reasonably well (I go back a long way with me), I don’t feel a need for some random form to reintroduce Me and Myself to I.

I tested out, according to the Myers-Briggs test, as an ISFJ. The final page of the test sent me to this site, where the writer had this to say about my personality type…

ISFJs are often unappreciated, at work, home, and play. …Because of all of this, ISFJs are often overworked, and as a result may suffer from psychosomatic illnesses.

Okay, so that quote has no bearing whatsoever on this post, but I found it tremendously funny. The best part is that the first time I took a Myers-Briggs about a year or so ago, I got confused on what my profile was. The one I looked up talked about what a rare gem of a person that type was (INFJ, I think), and how cool they are, and how successful they are, and what great leaders, etc., etc., etc. Then I realized my error and found mine… well, read above. You work really hard, nobody cares, so you get stressed and sick. Somehow that felt like a bit of a step down, and part of me wanted to revisit the test and see if I could wrangle my “S” into an “N”. 😀 But the quote below is the one I wanted to point out…

ISFJs make pleasant and reliable co-workers and exemplary employees, but tend to be harried and uncomfortable in supervisory roles.  [emphasis mine]

I have found this to be actually somewhat true. It’s been one doozie of a struggle trying to wrestle with my flesh and heart attitudes in order to simply step up and lead. Because I’m so naturally concerned about not stepping on anyone’s toes, it takes effort to be authoritative. I’m growing in it all the time, and am much better at it than I once was, but it hasn’t come easily.

Which brings us back to the initial point about how we label ourselves and one another. I could, in theory, look at those test results and go, “Huh. Look at that. According to some psychologist/sociologist somebody-or-other, I’m not well suited to lead. Whew! Guess that means I don’t have to do it any more.” Want to know how impressed the Lord is with that?



*crickets chirping*


Yeah. Not so much.

Gifting and calling has WAY less to do with personality than we think it does. Someone who’s naturally dominating is not an inherently better leader than someone who is naturally timid. Both people have to die to themselves and embrace the leadership style of Jesus… foot-washing and voluntary crucifixion. For the more dominant personality, that means learning to reign it in. For the timid one, that means learning to actually step out. Likewise, someone who loves being in front of people is not necessarily better at preaching than a withdrawn introvert will be. Both people have to die to themselves and embrace humility to deliver the Word of the Lord rightly.

Not many mighty… not many wise… not many noble. God doesn’t call us because He’s impressed with how cool we are. He calls us because He wants to glorify Himself through us, even as we’re weak and goofy and we bumble around trying to get things right. Don’t get me wrong; He made our personality, and He loves our personality, and He wants to work with us in accordance with the way we’re wired. But He’s never been one to sit nicely within man-made limits and boundaries, either.

Short story: Just do it. It doesn’t matter what Myers-Briggs has to say when God has given you an assignment. He’s really good at helping us iron out the kinks as we go. It may be a bit of an arduous journey — or, a lot of an arduous journey — but if He called us, He’s not going to leave us hanging. He will give us the grace and strength for the task, and we may discover things about ourselves we would not have known without the job He gave us. Besides, it may be amazing how much someone’s “personality” changes with a good run-in with inner healing… I know I’m personally a way different woman than I was 4 to 5 years ago. And there’s nothing like getting chucked right into the deep end to provoke you to work out your issues with the Lord. 🙂

His leadership is perfect. We can trust Him that His plans for our lives are good, and worth embracing wholeheartedly… No matter what jumble of letters our profile winds up to be. 🙂


Posted by on April 14, 2007 in Uncategorized


10 responses to “Learning to Lead – Just Do It!

  1. yining

    April 14, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    me too! (ISFJ) …confronted with the mandate to step out

  2. Stephanie

    April 15, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    I read your site often, but thought I’d pipe up with a comment today. I, too, am an ISFJ and I thought the description of ISFJ’s not being prone to leadership could be discouraging. For those that feel called to lead, but struggle with doing it effectively, the profile might convince them they are wrong for the desire God has placed in them for leadership.

    Your post articulated well that God is still capable to use those that may not be great naturally born leaders regardless of the inadequacy that would cause the world to write them off.

    We need to remember not to look at the outward appearance of man to decide where they belong. It is not what we see, but what God see’s that matters.


  3. Dorean

    April 15, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I came out an INFJ. I must admit to coming to the test with much cynicism, as I read on the site that it is based on Jung’s work. I don’t agree with anything, as far as I know, with the psychological theories of Jung. However, after taking the test, I read the descriptions of an INFJ, and it bugged me no end to see that a lot of it sounds like me! It especially grabbed my attention that it said I would be good in counseling, religious education, and writing. Hmm… I wanted it to be drastically wrong so I could mock it… Is that wrong? 😉 My lowest score was a 22% in introvert. Highest was 75% in feeling. Am I diverse, or just confused?

    I’m wondering how much age figures into this test. Looking over the questions, I think I would have answered somewhat differently 20 years ago. I don’t think the difference is all in how much I’ve changed, although I’m sure I have. I think as I’ve gotten older I have somehow become more me. You know, who I really am on the inside rather than how I learned to be.

    You are right about God choosing positions for us differently that we would for ourselves. When I was in school I never got a part in the class play, because I was so shy no one knew I had it in me to take on such a thing. (You know what happens to me now if I get a microphone in my hand!) There were secret parts of me that couldn’t possibly be guessed at, and it has taken God decades of working on me to bring them to the surface. Some of them were so secret even I didn’t realize they were there. However, when God brings them out and I adjust to them (they’re usually scary at first), I generally discover that it was a deep, hidden secret in my heart all along… He’s so cool!

    Didn’t mean to write a book… You can edit me if you want. Very interesting topic…

  4. Dorean

    April 15, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Gee whiz! I was just reading more on that site, and found out I’m in the same category as Ghandi! I think not! I could never go on a hunger strike! 😉

  5. Amanda Beattie

    April 15, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Stephanie: Thanks for commenting! ISFJ’s unite!! 😉 Seriously though, I really like what you said about the world only looking at the outward appearance. It’s so true…

    Mom: Hey, you’re less confused than me. I don’t remember my I and J scores, but my S was only 1% and my F was only 12%.

    I’ve also heard that age does affect it — but the only thing I’ve heard about that is that if you’re under 25, the test is not supposed to be tremendously accurate, because apparently your personality is not set in stone until then. *shrugs*

  6. Dorean

    April 16, 2007 at 9:53 am

    I don’t think it’s that your personality isn’t set. I think it’s just that as you get older you are more honest about yourself. Well that, and you know yourself better. Probably because you are more honest about yourself. 🙂

    As I’ve gotten older I have given up more and more on being what I was convinced I was by others (both bad and good), as well as given up on trying to be all those things I thought I should be. Maybe it’s wisdom, and maybe it’s just getting tired of working so hard on myself. I’d rather just relax, be who I am, and let everyone else have to deal with it. That leaves my energy available for things that have more lasting fruit. I doubt that your score will change much as you age, because you have always been pretty self-aware.

  7. Christine

    April 20, 2007 at 7:09 am

    “Not many mighty… not many wise… not many noble. God doesn’t call us because He’s impressed with how cool we are.” Amen! And praise the Lord for that!

    Dorean – I totally agree with you. It’s more a case of becoming more honest with ourselves than it is a change of personality. “Becoming more me.” I’ve even noticed that some in my own personality type. In high school and college, the tests came out differently from my current type (INTJ). The more I read, the more convinced I am that INTJ fits me. I don’t expect to see it change again.

    I think that I always have been an INTJ. It didn’t suddenly shift. I was just really good at convincing myself (and other people) that I was an ISTJ. SJs are kind of the ideal student… and I loved performing in the academic world. Part of doing well in school was becoming what the teacher wanted me to be. As I am finding more freedom in being myself… the NT in me keeps manifesting itself more and more strongly.

    (I say SJ and NT because they are two of the four temperaments. SJ, SP, NT, and NF. It seems a bit odd that the S types are divided primarily between J and P and the N types are primarily set apart by T and F, but when you think about the characterists of an N versus an S, it all makes sense. At least it did to me.)

    As to my feelings about the personality tests… I take them expecting to find some brilliantly accurate things along with the “umm… not so much” stuff. I mainly like them because I love finding new ways are articulating things. I get excited when I find something well-articulated that I had previously recognized but couldn’t quite put into words. And… they can be helpful in recognizing (and willfully opting not to operate in) some of our weaknesses.

  8. Christine

    April 20, 2007 at 7:09 am

    Oops… I wrote a book, too.

  9. Steve & Amanda

    April 24, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    how come most “good leaders” are good-looking and have strong personality types? of course, for longevity in leadership, they have to have some brains and wisdom too!

  10. Amanda Beattie

    April 25, 2007 at 2:38 am

    Steve (I’m guessing you’re the one who left the comment?):

    That is precisely the kind of the idea I’m trying to challenge in my own mindset. As I keep taking baby steps in leadership, the more I’m learning that leadership really looks nothing like what our society claims it to be…


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