Recently, during my ongoing job search, I responded to a CraigsList ad for a "virtual assistant" who would help the company market a variety of products designed to help "life coaches" to build their businesses.
The ad featured a long series of questions to which they wanted answers. I found the job opening sufficiently interesting to respond to the ad. Among other things, the company required applicants to visit a website (http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp) and take the Myers Briggs quiz, which was designed to ascertain one's personality or "temperament" based on one's answers.
I took the test, and attempted to answer as honestly as I could. In a few cases, I thought that the questions were rather simplistic, since they seemed to lack adequate context. There were a few questions where my answer could conceivably been Yes or No, depending on the context in which the question was asked. But I wasn't given the option of qualifying my answers by appending them with text which would address the relevant nuances, so I pretty much based my answers to such questions on instinct (which may be the point of not giving more information when asking such questions).
The quiz seemed to be based on Jungian psychology. As a Christian, I tend to be suspicious of just about all systematized secular theories of the mind, whether they are Freudian or Jungian or any other theory. In many cases, I think that such psychological theories are based on premises which directly contradict Christian truths. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that non-Christians can sometimes have valid insights which are worthy of consideration, even if their overall belief systems are warped. In any event, I didn't have a whole lot of choice in this situation. If I wanted to be considered for the job, I pretty much had to take the test.
According to the test, I have an eNFj personality (Extroverted 22, Intuitive 62, Feeling 25, Judging 78). Keirsey.com (http://keirsey.com/personality/nfej.html) describes such a personality as the "Teacher Idealist", and it says that such people constitute no more than 2-3% of the population. It lists some well-known people with such personalities, and the list includes Billy Graham, Oprah Winfrey and Martin Luther King. (Thank God the list didn't include idiots like Howard Stern!) Overall, I had to agree that I shared many of the personality characteristics seen in the lives of those people.
The fact that my "judging" score was so high didn't bother me at all. On the contrary, I think that judgment has gotten an undeserved bad rap in our morally relativistic society.
It is impossible to be a person of integrity without making moral judgments. Without such judgments, our ideas and practices lack coherence, and our lives lack meaning.
True leadership requires the willingness to take a stand, even at the risk of offending people who have opposite views. This is particularly true in politics. No one really respects politicians who change their policies and positions based solely on expediency. (Whatever you think about the last major presidential election in our country, it's clear that constant charges to the effect that John Kerry was a "flip flopper" resonated among many voters.) People want leaders they can look up to, they want leaders they can be inspired by, and they want leaders they can believe in. If a person changes his position on a subject as the result of a genuine change of mind or heart, that's altogether different, of course. Consistency isn't about being resistant to change, it's about having the courage to stick with one's commitments unless and until one is presented with adequate reasons for doing otherwise.
Unfortunately, people aren't always looking for moral leadership and clarity. A person with the character traits of a leader such as Billy Graham or Martin Luther King may be unwelcome in a work environment or a social environment where conformity and "getting along with others" is valued more than the truth. Sadly, that pretty much describes most of America's businesses, and more than a few of its churches. In many cases, a person with such a personality is likely to have difficulty getting along with existing leaders, because they correctly regard such a person as potential competition.
I'm undoubtedly biased, but I would guess that Jesus would have been considered to be an eNFj. Certainly, he was willing to say things which offended conventional religious leaders, not because he was a "rebel without a cause" (which he was not), but because he valued the truth. In fact, he not only valued the truth, he WAS truth. (Specifically, "the way, the truth and the life".) Even those who refuse to recognize his divinity acknowledge that he was a teacher and an idealist.
Idealism and realism are sometimes presented as if they are antonyms. I don't agree with that assessment. To be an idealist is not to be unrealistic. One can recognize that perfection is not completely attainable in this life, without abandoning one's conviction that perfection is worth striving for.
When Jesus said, "Be ye therefore perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect," some might have accused him of naivete. But that would have been a complete misunderstanding. Jesus knew our flaws far better than most of us do. But he also knew that the best way to inspire people to do their very best is to raise the bar high.
No loving father says to his children, as they set out to school in the morning, "Be sure to bring home lots of B's and C's." No! He says, "I want you to make straight A's." Does he actually believe that they will do so? Well, he hopes that they will, of course, but he knows that they may fall short of his expectations and hopes. If he's a good father, he will love them anyway. But he would be a poor father indeed if he did not hold them to the highest of standards. That is what it means to be an idealist. There is nothing unrealistic about it.
Being willing to speak the truth at all costs can be costly. It was for Jesus. It was for Martin Luther King. But one is what one is. I could no more change my basic temperament than a leopard can change its spots. So those of you who read this blog may notice, from time to time, that I write things which have the potential to offend people --- particularly people who have bought into the liberal secular views so characteristic of the age in which we live, but also people who claim to share my Christian beliefs even though their actions and words are completely lacking in the traits one might expect from people who take Christ's teachings seriously.
Believe it or not, I don't really enjoy rubbing people the wrong way. But what's the point of having a blog if you can't be honest when you post entries to that blog? It's not my fault that some people can't handle the truth as I see it. (I would never arrogantly claim that my opinions are infallible, but I do believe that they are based on solid and defensible reasons.)
In this diverse world of ours, there are so many people with so many incompatible opinions that the only way to avoid occasionally offending someone is to abstain from discussing anything of real importance. And I don't have much interest in such "small talk". As I see it, a person has the moral responsibility to make a real difference in this world, and that, by definition, requires the willingness to take risks.