Sabbatical, Day 5

Having finished my summaries of The Starfish And The Spider yesterday, I spent much of this morning dividing them into natural sections. It turned out that meant eight. I uploaded the first one, and to my surprise got a comment from none other than the Tall Skinny Kiwi himself, Andrew Jones. Many will know Andrew as the doyen of Christian blogging and an engaging, irenic voice in the missional world. He is a scholar and a gent to take the trouble to pass by this obscure backwater blog and leave a comment. I’m sure he doesn’t see it that way, but I felt honoured.

By the way, numbers two to eight in the Starfish series will appear over the next week, one a day, scheduled to appear at 9:00 am each day.

There’s not much reading I can do to prepare for my week at Cliff College next week. Over the years, I’ve read several titles on the reading list for the unit and am going along for stimulation and edification. The weather forecast remains a concern, especially with heavy snow still predicted for the Peak District on Sunday, when I am due to travel. Conditions have eased around here now, but major roads in this region and others on the way that I would be using still look ominous. The M1 for a start. Since I’m auditing this course at Cliff courtesy of a kind anonymous bursary, I have it in mind to ask if I can switch to another course if I can’t make next week. Right now it doesn’t look promising, but there speaks one with the spiritual gift of pessimism.

I have, however, been gathering material ready for my trip later in the month to Trinity College, Bristol, where I shall be spending a week with Anglican ordinands and other students looking at personality type and ministry. Down from the shelf has come ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You‘ (no, not by Alan Partridge) by Malcolm Goldsmith and Martin Wharton. The subtitle is, ‘Exploring Personality Type and Temperament’. It’s based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which is being used on the course. I’m armed with the knowledge that I’m INTP.

I also dug out a birthday present from about three years ago. My sister, who is an Occupational Therapist at a hospice, had been on an Enneagram course with the hospice chaplain. She bought me Richard Rohr‘s book ‘The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective‘. Once I knew I wanted to explore this theme during a sabbatical, it seemed right to put it aside until then.

While hunting for something else, I found the Grove booklet ‘Personality and Renewal‘ by William Kay. I’m flicking through that.

The something else was another Grove booklet I’ve been trying to find ever since we moved here three and a half years ago. Something always goes missing. It’s ‘Personality and the Practice of Ministry‘ by Leslie Francis and Mandy Robbins. Based not on Myers Briggs, Enneagram or anything else, Francis and Robbins use Hans Eysenck‘s personality test based on extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism. I ended up paying to download the e-book version in PDF format, which seemed less wasteful, in the vain hope my original hard copy might turn up one day.

Meanwhile, I found an online version of Eysenck’s test, and here are my results. They tell you a lot about why I want to explore the relationship between personality type and the practice of ministry, because on the surface I just don’t fit the typical stereotypes and expectations:

Eysenck’s Test Results
Extraversion (27%) low which suggests you are very reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and private.
Neuroticism (77%) high which suggests you are very worrying, insecure, emotional, and anxious.
Psychoticism (33%) moderately low which suggests you are, at times, overly kind natured, trusting, and helpful at the expense of your own individual development (martyr complex).

Take Eysenck Personality Test (similar to EPQ-R)
personality tests by

One other good thing today. The post is returning to normal here (shame about the refuse collections). That meant the arrival of Mike Frost and Alan Hirsch‘s new book ‘ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church‘. I put it on pre-order with Amazon the moment I knew about it. Today is a good day. Except for the fact that I paid £10.44 and it’s now £8.53.


  1. I will be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Enneagram. I was introduced to it in a Clinical Pastoral Education unit and found it much more helpful than the Myers Briggs. I hate all those questions on that one that I always want to answer, ‘well, it depends!’


  2. I’ll see how that goes, Will: I’ve never done anything on the Enneagram before. I’m also fascinated by the Eysenck stuff. Both the Francis and Robbins book use it (as mentioned) as does the one by Kay, who gives a very useful summary of both Eysenck’s test and the theory behind it and MBTI. He clearly favours Eysenck and talks about a way in which MBTI needs modifying to make it less rigid, however much they talk about preferences. The example he gives is that in MBTI once you are labelled introvert you can never be placed near extraverts, whereas with Eysenck you could still be shown as near them in certain other ways.


  3. Stuck at home because of snow and lack of transport up to london. Hoping some colleagues can get in and complete their bit for the monthly financial rpeort to the Centre so I can finalise the main output. So looking at blogs between waits.

    Ths post reminds me of a Diocesan Reader training day c 4 years ag. At one of the sessions we looked at personality type, mainly Myers Briggs and hw it related to our spiritual journay and expression.

    I had recently been Myers Briggsed at work in connection with a cack handed leadership development programme. I had emerged as an ISTJ, strong on ISJ, but close to the T?F border on that one. All this apparently pointed t a tendency to stability in churchm expression and that probably tending to the steadier expressions.

    I pointed out that I had been brought up in a Baptist church – 50s 60s evangelicalism, then drifted away, found Christ laster in the 70s, in the CoE. Then in early 90s had 5 yars in a semi independent charismatic fellowship before going back to a CoE Parsh church where I am now a Reader. So I have been around and do not fit the mould. What did that make me, other than a craxzy mixed up kid – or more correctly this last 15 months a crazy mixed up Grandpa! The tutor was intrigued, but had the same sentiment as Will – “it all depends”!!

    I tend to the view that these tests have some entertainment value, and very carefully used, can be helpful in the right situation. My younger brother and the eldership team, in his first UK church after returning from missionary work, did Myers Briggs, and they made good use of it. Do I dare suggest our own staff team (vicar, NSM curate, 2 Readers and Pastoral visitor) and perhaps the PCC explore this route?


  4. Colin,

    Thanks. I think it’s easy to treat these tests as the psychological version of the horoscope. However, they can be used carefully.

    In my last appointment, we used MBTI for a Church Council away day, where we had realised there were big issues preventing us working as a team. We were led by someone properly trained and accredited in the approach, and that worked well. Perhaps that would encourage your younger brother.

    The Grove booklets I mention both have interesting material (all too brief, of course) about personality types and certain theological or churchmanship predispositions.


  5. Like Will, I find the Enneagram more helpful than MBTI, partly because it deals more with motivation than behaviour. (Declaration of interest here: I’m an Enneagram teacher.)
    Just took the Eysenck. I seem to be moderate on everything. How boring!
    All of these things are just tools for learning, it’s applying the lessons that is the start of the really hard work.
    One way in which all these systems (MBTI, Enneagram or whatever) can be really helpful is in giving groups working together a common language and understanding.


  6. Tess,

    Thank you for your slant on this. I’ll be all the more interested to see what a study of Enneagram produces. Do you know the Richard Rohr book? If so, do you think it’s any good?


  7. Hello again. I don’t know that particular book by Rohr, but I’m a huge fan of his, not just for his Enneagram work. I have his excellent book Enneagram II, which is more about using the system for spiritual development than learning the basic nuts and bolts.
    I recommend Don Riso and Russ Hudson’s book Wisdom of the Enneagram. They don’t take a specifically Christian perspective, but are wise, wonderful and warm teachers who have made a big contribution developing Enneagram psychological over the past 25 years. (They are my teachers, so I’m biased!)
    You might also enjoy Head versus Heart… by Michael Hampson, which takes a fresh and new approach and has an interesting section on biblical journeys corresponding to each Enneagram type. He’s a British parish priest and the book has a foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury, no less.
    There are loads of introductory courses as well, all over the world. Happy to point you in the direction of some if you’re interested. I teach one each Spring with two colleagues at Turvey Abbey in Bedfordshire.


  8. Thanls for the recommendations, Tess. Doubt I’ll be able to get on a course in the foresseable future, but I’ll check out the books at some point. Why be biased about your teachers – if you know they’re good and that’s because they taught you, then fine! I’ve recommended stuff by some of my former lecturers in other fields.


  9. Google Fr Richard Rohr David and you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve found DS! The stuff on him is interesting in a scary way. I advise you to read vociferously the background and roots of the Enneagram. When you do use discernment and pray for protection. xxx


  10. Jane, I must be feeling thick tonight but what do you mean by DS? Sorry if that’s a stupid question.

    I am aware of controversy in Christian circles over the origins of the Enneagram. I’ve got as far as the introduction to Rohr’s book, where he is aware of these suggestions. He argues there is evidence for a much more Christian background than has been previously thought. That isn’t to say I uncritically accept that, either, but it does need careful consideration, along with the contrary theories. Thanks for the cautionary note.


  11. PS: Jane,

    I meant to say this, too: were you on the Joint Church Council at Christ Church when we used the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to analyse our teamwork, given the frictions there had been? You might recall Steve P bringing in a Myers Briggs specialist. We had an away day one Saturday to look at it. I just ask, because I wondered whether the Jungian background to MBTI had been a difficulty for you, and what thoughts you had on that? I’m curious to explore the difference between those times when we judge as Christians that ‘all truth is God’s truth’ and others when we want to say ‘no, this is dangerous’. I hope you don’t think that’s critical, it isn’t meant that way. I’m simply keen to learn more and encourage the discussion here on the blog to be one where everybody’s different comments function as ‘iron sharpening iron’.

    Love to you and Andrew.


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