Tuesday, October 18, 2011

175. MBTI and Apostolic Ministry Part 2

This is part two of a series of post son MBTI and apostolic ministry. (Part One Here.) The more I dive into the MBTI and it's connection the fivefold in general, and the apostolic in particular, the more illumination I get in how the apostolic functions and the way it differs with the other ministries of Ephesians 4. one of the ways I gather insights and ideas about the correlations are from MBTI forums. I rans across a really good post the other day that my buddy Andrew Vescovich pointed me to here. My contention is that apostolic folks are always going to have the NT temperament that Kiersey describes as the rationals. It does not mean all NT's are apostolic, but it does mean all apostles will, as a general rule, be NT's.

to substantiate this idea, lets look at the distinction between Sensers and Intuitives. Then we will look at the distinction between Thinkers and Feelers. Consider this initial diagram:

If the red dots represent components (people, ideas, or objects) then Senser's tend to see these components as isolated and stand alone entities. The may see some connection or pattern, but they tend to see things for face value, as they are, in the present. Intuitive's, on the other hand, see the same components, but they notice connections and relationships between the parts and are prone to recognize patterns. These patterns create the framework for new relationships, new meaning, and hence new possibilities. This is one reason why intuitive's are visionary and senser's are not. Intuitive's see more possibilities and what could be by re-arranging the component parts and extrapolating meaning out of ne configurations. Apostolic people will always be intuitive's because they are visionary. Like before, I am not saying all intuitive's are apostolic. What I am saying is that all apostolic people will be intuitive's because they will tend to zoom out of the particular and view reality from a higher altitude that provides them with the necessary perspective to see the big picture, relationships between the parts, and the various patterns that emerge from these clustered relationships. The intuititve sees reality as a matrix of inter-related components that are pregnant meaning and possibility. One way to say it is that the Senser tends to see the trees, while the intuitive tends to see the forest.

What about Feelers and Thinkers? Lets start with the Feelers. The Feeler, brings together perceptions in a wide, holistic manner, establishing zones of value and symmetry between multiple components throughout the matrix. Any decisions taken by the Feeler must maintain the integrity of these value-systems and their interdependent connections, and not just the immediate structure pertaining to the given situation. Each component within the zone has intrinsic value. To a Feeler, when you hone in on one component, it is ignoring or marginalizing the other components. You can not just deal with one component. You have to deal with all components in the zone (circle) or you can not effectively deal with any of them. 

Due to holistic zone of integrated values established by Feelers, they tend to be concerned with people rather than things in and of themselves, bringing about a sense of integrity, morality infused with relational and organizational loyalty and responsibility. Feelers give priority to personal values and consider the more holistic impact of decisions on the other components and are willing to alter their choices if one effecting one component will adversely effect another component.

Thinkers, on the other hand, do not assign equal value to all the components. If Feelers assign intrinsic value, Thinkers analyze components for extrinsic value. That is, something is only valuable if it is useful to the challenge or situation under consideration. Change the situation, and immediately the list of valuable components changes to another list based on the circumstances being negotiated. Thinkers will look at a particular situation, and then analyze all the components to see if they are relevant to that particular situation or challenge. They will hone in on the components that present themselves as extrinsically valuable to the situation at hand, and then logically, and objectively prioritize and arrange those components into a linear framework that systematizes how each component will be integrated and utilized for the situation at hand. So for Thinkers, the components are linked together, but not by holistic framework, but by a more linear, logical connection that only exists because of the current situation. It looks something like this:

Now that we have looked at the basic building blocks of Intutives and Senser's, Feelers and Thinkers, lets hone in on how these combine for Intuitive's. First, we will look at the NF temperament labeled by Kiersey as the Idealist. This temperament is often mistakenly labeled as apostolic because it too can be visionary and highly influential. So lets look at how NF's differ from NT's.

Intuitive Feeling

NF's see the big picture and their connections, but they tend to place equal value on various components, ideas and people, and collect them into a holistic framework that distributes value through out the whole framework or zone.

This holistic and integrated view of reality (situations, ideas or people), while being a foundational ingredient to the NF's visionary capacity, also comes with a challenge: it makes it hard to prioritize and make tough decisions, which makes it challenging to think strategically. When various components within a framework all hold equal value, then to emphasize one part of the whole over another part of the whole is to threaten the integrity of the whole. Prioritization of the parts within the framework (the circle in the diagram), to an NF, unnecessarily devalues and dis-integrates the whole. This difficulty with prioritization can translate into a difficulty with strategic planning and decision making. Strategic decisions are essentially value judgments pertaining to a course of action. In order to prioritize on action above another, you have to first distill the situation into its essential parts, separating them into their functional domains and potential consequences on the goals at hand. 

This process, as we will see, comes natural to NT's, but it can be quite challenging for NF's. Distilling a situation or challenge into its essential components, defining them, and then prioritizing them into a hierarchy of value runs counter to the NF's impulse to retain integrity and harmony within the current matrix of reality. To an NF, distilling reality into its functional parts can be annoying because it isolates some components, allows them to be elevated above others, and essentially vandalizes their holistic view of reality. If everything is connected, and needs to retain its holistic nature, than to distill means to discriminate and potentially devalue the parts that make up the NF's matrix of reality. In Hebrew terms, it vandalizes their Shalom. 

This has implications for how the NF tends to interact with strategy, map making, form and structure. Being strategic means prioritizing some actions above others. It means mapping out a course of action that, by default, ends up devaluing or marginalizing other courses of action. To divide and define (as NT's do) the components into a hierarchy of value or a prioritized sequence of action, can feel constricting and a bit claustrophobic. NF's need that broader zone to fit all the things they see as being valuable and important into their paradigm. When you start narrowing down the components and classifying them, you begin to move from holistic to heuristic, and this can seem unnecessarily restrictive to an NF. (This feeling is amplified if the NF is a P) From the NF's perspective, to distill can equate to disintegrating, and can lead to potentially ignoring the intrinsic value and integrity of the whole. As such, to an NF, this whole process of distillation, strategy, and structure is sometimes perceived to be annoying or even unnecessary, making things more complicated than they really ought to be.  

Intuitive Thinking

Now for the NT's. As the link above states, "The Thinking function establishes linear connections based on specific properties. When making decisions, the Thinker only has to maintain the immediate matrix structure that may be affected by any ensuing action. For this reason, this type will disregard all that is not directly related to the decision at hand, and may often appear cold and impersonal. The connections established by this function are highly specific and often provide insight and understanding. While Feeling is essentially a holistic process that perceives the world as an interconnected web, Thinking is linear, logical and analytical." 

When you put the Thinking function with the Intuitive function, what you get is a big picture visionary, but with a twist. Rather than maintaining a holistic view of the situation, an NT will analyze the whole and break it into its parts in order to organize a strategic course of action. It is kind of like taking a engine apart and recognizing all the parts and their functions, then rebuilding the engine according to the needs at hand. We might be able to put it like this: If NF's tend to see the forest, but not the trees, NT's see the forest and the trees. Because of this dual vision for the macro and the micro, NT's will also envision the most efficient pathway to make make it through the forest. They will design a strategic course of action to move through the forest. So their matrix of reality would look something like this. 

Intuitive Thinking

In essence, NT's are map makers, and are strategic thinkers. They do not see everything as equally valuable. Value is determined by whether or not it will help you get to the desired destination. It is utilitarian in some sense. So the NT does not mind assigning value to one idea or course of action, and not as much value to others. NT's are ok with bypassing one "dot" and connecting with another one because it is advantageous, based on the situation, to do so. The destination is not a generic zone, but a specific point on the map, and the NT knows exactly what path they should take in order to get there. If it means some "dots" don't connect with the overall strategy, and get left out....this is a necessary evil. Its not that they don't see them. They see all the dots and how they relate to each other. It is this precise comprehensive vision of their inter-relatedness that allows them to chart the new course and make the calculated, necessary steps to get there. NF's get the basic idea, but to them everything holds equal value, so it is impossible for them to imagine singling out one dot above another or bypassing (neglecting) one dot in order to connect with another. The NT often can come across as cold or insensitive. This may be true at times, but really we are just rational :-)

This tendency to envision the essential components for success, and organize strategic courses of action to navigate the challenges of the forest flirts with one of the metaphors Paul uses in I Corinthians 3 to describe apostolic ministry. When Paul says apostles are "master builders" who lay a good foundation, he use the word "arki-tekton" which is where we get our word "architect"  from. This word carries with it strong overtones of design, strategy, structure and organization. Apostles, in my opinion will always be NT's of some sort (ENTJ, ENTP, INTP, INTJ). Actually, my hunch is this: All the NT's are apostolic to some degree, whether it is their primary or secondary gifting. 

ENTJ: Apostle/Teacher
ENTP: Apostle/Evangelist (Evangelist/Apostle)
INTP: Apostle/Prophet (Prophet/Apostle)
INTJ: Teacher/Apostle (Apostle/Teacher)

Apostles see the big picture, but they see behind the picture to the essential design and organization that allows that picture to emerge. They see the beginning phases and the initial frameworks that need to be deisgned and established in order for the building to emerge. NT's design the blue prints that serve as the initial template and primary design to lay a foundation for future building. To put it another way, while NF's see the forest but not the trees, NT's see the forest and the trees, which allows them to design (and blaze) the trail to maneuver and navigate the foreign terrain.

It takes strategic thinking to map out a venture and take the necessary steps to see it come to fruition. An NF will see the vision, but they will not have a strategic approach. They most likely get paralyzed by decisions that require them to make value judgements, or that require them to ignore some things/people in order to focus on other things/people. To NF's that is naughty, to an NT, it is a necessary evil that must be practiced if the venture is to reach a level of quality and sustainability. 

So in some ways, NT's are mapmakers. They sketch up the rough draft blueprints that give structure and direction to new ventures. They create the systems that allow the community to operate in their absence. They draw out the architectural dimesnions of the foundation and chart the course for exploration. 


len hjalmarson said...

lol Tim, my wife is not gonna like this page ;) Good reflections here, thanks!

Tim Catchim said...

Hey len, late reply here, but I think I know what you mean :-)