Sabbatical, Day 30: Victorian Children, Books Books Books, Personality Type Survey And New Blog Theme

Mark stayed home today as a precaution. We don’t want the symptoms of his ear infection to disappear while the bug remains around and then recurs. So he came on the school run to take Rebekah in, then we went to see her board a coach with her friends to visit a museum in Braintree for a Victorian-themed outing. 

All Rebekah’s year had to dress like Victorians (as did the staff and parent helpers). There were additional restrictions on what they could take in their lunch boxes. Becky was nervous, knowing that part of the day would include a simulation of a Victorian school, complete with strict teacher! However, she survived, and although her own real-life teacher has a reputation at the school for keeping rather firm boundaries, Becky came back believing her teacher isn’t strict at all in comparison!

Those of you who are my Facebook friends can see on my profile a photo I took of her this morning in her £10 bargain eBay costume. You’ll also see there (and here on the blog) a changed profile picture. All the children on the trip were given a slateboard and stylus. Rebekah drew a picture of me, I photographed it and cropped it. So if you’re wondering what happened, that’s the story. Besides, she took the previous photo that appeared here and on Facebook on her own digital camera. I like to think she’s a very artistic little five-year-old.

Keeping Mark at home gave us the opportunity to stretch him. Academically he coasts at school, and the reading books sent home for him are well beneath his literacy powers. He devours books like a shark eating human flesh, and so we keep ourselves stocked up with titles at or just above his ability level. Not only do we find Internet bargains, his favourite shop is Waterstone’s and he is well known to the staff at the local library. This morning, he read me ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker‘, stumbling only on the words ‘midnight’, ‘sewed’ and ‘hammered’.

Even with all this going on, I actually managed to do some sabbatical work today. Having done the work on ministry and personality type last Thursday and Friday at Trinity with Jerry Gilpin, I began devising a questionnaire today. I want to survey ministers and members of congregations about the personality types of ministers, and what level of tension might exist between actual personality types and the aspirations of churches. It won’t be the most scientific survey ever constructed, because I won’t have the facility to question an accurate cross-section. Respondents will inevitably be self-selecting to a certain extent, and that may well mean I attract answers from people who have stronger than average views. However, within those constraints, I hope I can learn to some extent whether the tensions I feel are substantially replicated elsewhere or not. 

As to distribution of the survey, I plan to host it on Survey Monkey, and possibly distribute it using Mail Chimp. Both these services have free options for those working small scale. I’ll find other ways of distributing the link to the survey through Methodist sources, Facebook and, naturally, here on the blog.

Finally, I was fiddling around in WordPress earlier and noticed that two weeks ago they had launched another new blog theme, Vigilance. It looks quite clean and is apparently customisable, so I think I might change over to that and then see what modifications I fancy making over the coming weeks. Let me know what you think of it. 

OK, time for bed, said Zebedee.


  1. That survey sounds interesting, I believe that personality type has a huge impact on our ministry and on the way we are recieved and percieved of by others/ congregations.

    Sounds like Rebekah had a great day, I remember my children participating in a few of those adventures.


    1. Thanks, Sally. I also have a few leads on suitable reading about ministry, faith and personality type. I have some Amazon vouchers, so watch this space!

      And yes, Rebekah did have a great day, thank you.


  2. Hi Dave,
    I have found your posts related to Myers Briggs and Belbin quite interesting, although I have to say I have done the belbin one a number of times and come out as different things each time – I think sometimes this one can be affected by what you are doing workwise.
    The organisation I work for recently did some interviews and used a book called ‘strengths finder 2.0:’ by Tom Rath which meant each candidate had to take an on-line test which then gave a report of that persons strengths along with an action plan.
    I got hold of this book and took the test (you can’t use someone else’s) and it puts lots of emphasis on your strengths rather than the more traditional things of identifying your weaknesses and working on them.
    It give your own top five themes and mine were ‘Developer, Positivity, Connectedness, Empathy and Adaptability’. I think it would be true to say I agreed with the result and felt it had captured my ‘best points’ exceptionally well.

    I would have top say the book was well worth the ten pounds it cost and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in personality profiling type exercises.


    1. Hi FP,

      Thanks for the HT about the Tom Rath book, I hadn’t heard of that. I found Belbin a little bemusing, especially since I came out as a ‘Resource Investigator’. RIs are meant to be big extraverts, and I’m very clearly an intravert! My second category was Plant (PL), which seemed much more likely. However, this is the only time I’ve taken Belbin. Also, we used a free questionnaire based on the ‘old Belbin’ with only eight categories, not nine.


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