Saturday, December 7, 2013

ENFJs in ministry and preaching

[If you've got no idea what I'm talking about here - read my last post...]

I’ve spent the last week reading up on ENFJism. It’s all pretty interesting. Tonight I want to continue my series about different personality types and ministry, but because I don’t know many ENFJ ministers up close, what I’m saying may not be spot on. I’d love to be corrected - particularly if you are an ENFJ or if you know one well.

ENFJs have Extraverted Feeling as their primary mode of operation with Introverted Intuition as their auxilary function. This means that the ENFJ’s primary mode of living is in the outside world (as opposed to in their own heads) where they wear their judging/decision making hat (all of the time!) The colour of the ENFJ’s judging hat is FEELINGS. They are constantly making decisions about things, weighing things up, working out how to respond based on how they feel about things and how things fit into their personal values system.

ENFJs love people. They love to be around them, to draw them out, to make them feel comfortable. They have all the social graces. They are confident, polite, well mannered. They laugh when they should. And they are really good friends. They listen, they help, they own your problems as their own, and they keep in touch when you’ve moved away. Unlike their ENFP cousins, who think they are insightful but often are just projecting their own feelings onto others (an introverted feelings thing), ENFJs really are in tune with the feelings of others. This makes the ENFJ a much trusted confidante and sometimes something of a guru, for ENFJs love to teach people and offer advice. Imagine Buddha sitting up on a mountain... it gives them a buzz.

Being a J type, the ENFJ gets stuff done. If it involves people management, they are most likely to do it brilliantly. They like to bring out the best in others. They love people and people love them... but because the ENFJ feels so much for others and wants so much to help, in ministry they can get burnt out with over committment. They need to remember that they’re not Jesus and leave it to him to change people.

But over the years, many ENFJs have forgotten that they’re not Jesus and have become cult leaders. ENFJs make great cult leaders. People love them, they understand how people feel and so can manipulate them, they are organised, they are confident, they LOVE people to come to them for advice (this can be like a drug to the ENFJ), and they get pretty excited about hero myths and quite easily develop hero complexes. Such an ENFJ is bad news. You might not have seen one full blown, but some church ministers elevate themselves a little too high and you can see the cult thing in embryo.

ENFJs will likely work pretty hard at their preaching. They are not really into impersonal analysis so aren’t going to preach theoretical stuff just for the sake of it, but ENFJs see themselves as on a spiritual journey and they are keen for any nuggets of wisdom along the way. To help them on the path to enlightenment, they will read theology and all sorts of things and this comes out in their preaching for they are very ready to impart their knowledge to others. They love the teacher role and really love to be agents of change. Their sermons will certainly have charm and some flair and are likely to be much better organised and more practical and directive than the ENFPs.

Monday, December 2, 2013

ENTP, ENFP and ENTJ sermons.

This post will look at the sermons of three EN personality types: the ENTP, ENFP and ENTJ. But first, some definitions for the uninitiated:

The Myers Briggs theory is that there are 4 different elements of our personalities - each with 2 options - and these 4 elements work together and describe who we are.

First we have the Introvert (I) / Extravert (E) option. Most people have heard of these. I won’t go into it here. Google it.

Next we have what’s called our PERCEIVING function - it’s got to do with how we take in information. Sensing (S) types (S) take in information about the world through their senses. They prefer concrete realities to abstract thoughts. Intuitive (N) types like abstraction. Theories sing for them. 

Third, we have our JUDGING function - it’s about how we make decisions. If we make decisions based primarily on logic, we are Thinking (T) types. If we make decisions based on our personal values and feelings we are Feeling (F) types.

The final element concerns whether we deal with the outer world primarily with our Perceiving (P) function (Sensing/Intuition) or our Judging function (ie. Thinking/Feeling). J types tend to be more decisive and like loose ends tidied up. P types tend to be more open to possibilities for longer.

So - to summarise: You get four letters - E or I, S or N, T or F, and P or J. Do a little test here to get some idea about what you are.


But now, back to what we were talking about... Today I’m looking at the tendancies in sermons of three different types - ENTP, ENFP and ENTJ. The latter two types are commonly found in ministry. ENTPs less so. 

ENTP Sermons - Original, logical, insightful

The ENTP’s primary function is intuition. He/she applies it to everything. They have flashes of insight in their bible reading and are quick to make connections to things they know from life and the bible. They like the newness of having a different passage to preach each week and if they believe in the value of biblical preaching and are committed to their current church (not a given!), they will see the sermon as their all-important latest project and will work it and re-work it until it does exactly what they want it to do. Because ENTPs value logic, their sermons will generally be well structured. ENTPs are insightful about people not exactly because they care a lot, but because they find people interesting (At least at first - an old or ongoing problem is of little interest to the ENTP). They have a thirst for understanding and can listen really carefully while people describe their situations. While the person is talking, the ENTP’s intuitive mind is racing, working out what’s going on beneath the surface and how they can imaginatively address this in their next sermon. 

The ENTP is capable of preaching really well, but when they are bored with their job and dreaming about the Next Thing, they will find it very difficult to focus on preparation and their sermon will be substandard. An ENTP is unusually well suited to itinerant preaching jobs where they have the thrill of a new congregation each week and can focus on one-off pastoral conversations rather than on long term relationships.

ENFP Sermons - Charismatic, inspired, insightful

The ENFP’s sermon has a lot in common with the ENTP’s - both are insightful, biblically and pastorally. Both are imaginative and original. Both will suffer if the preacher is bored with his/her job. But there are some differences. First, the ENTP’s thinking function gives him/her a drive for structure and logic that the ENFP just doesn’t have. The ENFP will have to force him/herself to explain the intuitive leaps between one idea and another that he/she sees as obvious. Second, ENFPs have a charm about them that ENTPs simply don’t have. This can be used for good or ill. Used well, their natural charisma can make their sermons truly inspiring and reach levels that the ENTP just cannot reach. Used poorly, they can be emotionally manipulative. Lazy ENFPs can come to rely on their charm to cover for poor preparation. Over time, poor preparation can become a habit with the ENFP. When their charm wears thin (as it eventually will), the ENFP will have little to offer.

A third difference between the ENTP’s and the ENFP’s sermons comes from the fact that ENTPs want you to love their IDEAS while ENFPs want you to love THEM. An immature ENFP will have ‘please love me‘ engraved in every line of their sermon. They are very responsive to the congregation’s feedback - which can be good and bad. An insecure ENFP will not preach things that their congregation doesn’t want to hear.

ENTJ Sermons - Logical, dynamic, directive.

If ENTPs want you to love their ideas and ENFPs want you to love them, then ENTJs want you to follow them. They have a strong desire to lead. So strong. The pulpit can be the throne from which they rule.

ENTJs have excellent verbal communication skills. When preaching they are a dynamic presence - confident, forceful, quick witted. They have a good theoretical understanding, but are even better at translating it into concrete applications.

They are convinced that they have the answers and in their sermons they will tell you all sorts of things that they think you ought to know. They believe in lives efficiently run. Families with strong leadership - perhaps even with vision statements! Order. Logic. They will argue persuasively for their point of view, and it would take a very quick witted person to see holes in the ENTJ’s argument while he/she is preaching.

An ENTJs primary function is Extroverted Thinking. What they like best is to make decisions. Their secondary function - Introverted Intuition - the process by which they gather information about the world (and the Word) - can take a very, very subordinate place. It may be that they only use their intuition to reinforce what they have already decided. For example, an ENTJ preacher may have decided that his congregation needs to learn about... say... household management. He sees all of these families that are just bumbling along. They need more order. Like his family has. He decides that it’s because the men aren’t stepping up and taking control. He wants to tell the men that they need to be the CEOs of their families. At this point, he goes to the bible (he uses his information gathering function - introverted intuition) to find arguments to support his already formed judgements.

Now, of course the ENTJ preacher wouldn’t describe his process that crudely. But because his Judging function is so strong, that is going to be the temptation that he faces each week during his sermon prep. Can he hold off making decisions so as to force his secondary function (introverted intuition) to do its work? Or does he so want to be in charge that he will allow himself to be more in charge than God and His Word?

The ENTJ, more than any other type, constantly faces the challenge of self agrandisement in his/her preaching. I’d urge the ENTJ to let the bible set the agenda every single week. ENTJs are most at risk with topical series. The topical sermon gives the ENTJ license to give the congregation all sorts of extra biblical advice. He (generally he!) will feel qualified to speak on parenting styles, education choices, diet, household furnishings, budgets... and his verbal giftedness will make people listen to what he says.