“What’s your profile type? ESFJ? Oh, that’s totally you!”
As a lover of all things personality-typed, I greatly enjoy the interpretations that come with sharing any of these with people. I’m an ESFJ. Here’s a little about what this means for me:
- Extroversion – outward-focused people who gain energy and refreshment from people and action (as opposed to Introversion).
- Sensing – people who gather information through the present details of a moment, focusing on what is able to be noticed and sensed in a situation (as opposed to iNtuition).
- Feeling – people who make decisions based on associations or empathizing in a situation, aiming for achieving a balance, harmony, and fit in results (as opposed to Thinking).
- Judging – refers to how people see the world, and the preference to enter with a plan and have things settled and thought-through (as opposed to Perceiving).
Inevitably, there are compliments that come in the expression of ESFJ’s tendency to be warm and friendly, detail-oriented, sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, and good at creating order.
In fact, Wikipedia has this to say about ESFJs:
ESFJs project warmth through a genuine interest in the well-being of others. They are often skilled at bringing out the best in people, and they want to understand other points of view. They are serious about their responsibilities, seeing what needs to be done and then doing it. Generally proficient at detailed tasks, they enjoy doing little things that make life easier for others.
However, the fear that accompanies this evaluation for me results from the negative side of this type, our approval-seeking, criticism-hating, easily wounded, sensitive hearts, which I know is so painfully true of me. In spending time thinking and analyzing these qualities, it has become so apparent that while my personality “type” undeniably affects how I operate and behave in many different facets of life, the way this informs my ministry within the church seems the most influential and noteworthy.
The Prelude Character Analysis web page describes two pieces of the ESFJ style that I see emerge often times in ministry environments – “the ESFJ may become quite parental in their desire to control and create harmony…” and that she “will ensure the team is protected from mistakes.” One of biggest obstacles I face in ministry is my deep-seated desire to control the experiences and situations that those around me face. I could make a great case for this desire being altruistic and helpful, but what I am often reminded of is that not only is it not my job to try and control the experiences, and avoid the painful ones, but that it’s actually interfering with the important work that God is doing in the lives of those I love. I so want to utilize my strategic thinking and sensitivity towards others to find ways to make their lives easier and less painful.
What does this mean for me as a Christian and an ESFJ? It means that my particular personality type forces me to trust God in a very specific way. The people that I love and care for the most are the ones with whom I must submit my concerns and control to God about. It makes Paul’s prayer about the Philippians so much more vibrant as it crosses my lips:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6, emphasis added)
Because of my natural proclivity towards sin, specifically, the sins of pride and control, I must submit my anxieties and fears to God as a part of the way that I trust His work in the lives of those most precious to me, instead of trusting my own work or my control. I have often shared with others that I believe the best and worst parts of being in ministry are the ways that we get to have a front-row seat to what God is doing in the lives of the flock. Sometimes, that means getting to see redemption and reconciliation happen in miraculous ways. Other times, it means seeing people at the darkest moments of their lives, or even more painfully, in the moments when they say “No” to God. It’s a painstaking business that involves every part of our self, which means both joy and suffering in an undeniably real way.
Learning to accept and embrace the parts of me that make these challenges so prominent has been quite a journey in these past few years, especially. As I have reached now my mid-twenties, I have seen the pieces of my personality settling into place in ways I think I’ve been waiting for much of my life as an adolescent. This “settling in” has brought forth conviction and shed light on places that God has been working on my foundation in Him and the church in beautiful ways. As I continue to follow Him humbly, I trust Him to continue to work on me, and to work in the lives of those I love in the ways He always has and always will. And I know that He will do this through all the little bits and pieces of each of our personalities, knowing that we all have been made in His image.
Sarah Rose Lochelt is a 20-something student/writer/minister in Southern California, where she dreams about real seasons where leaves change colors and spends a lot of time reading in coffee shops. She can be found blogging at “Hope as an Anchor” and by email at [email protected]