Imagine that Jesus had the chance to take a modern personality inventory. What would the results look like? It’s a fascinating question.
In fact, I always wondered what would be the personality of Jesus Christ? I mean, what was he really like as a son, neighbor, friend and teacher? As Christmas is almost just around the corner, I am reminded of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After all, He’s the reason for the season.
The four Gospels show us a clear picture of how he acted and reacted in a number of different situations. As a MBTI aficionado, I couldn’t help but wonder what were his type preferences.
Of course, it’d be virtually impossible to know for sure since we can’t ask him how he gets energy (E or I), how he processed information (S or N) and how he made decisions (F or T), or how we oriented himself to the outer world (P or J).
Regardless, I made an attempt to look at the Gospels and identify certain clues from a number of situations as to what his personality preferences might have been.
Extraversion or Introversion
Let’s start with the first letter in MBTI. Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I). An extravert is someone who gets energy from the outer world and is active, outgoing, and focused on people and things. Consider them the solar panels, constantly needing external source for recharge. Contrast that with introverts. An introvert gets energy in his or her inner world and is reflective, focused on thoughts and concepts. These people process internally, thinking before they speak. Consider them the smart phones, where they are recharged through being plugged in.
While Jesus can be seeing as outgoing, sociable and focused on people, all characteristics of a preference for extraversion, verses like Mark 1:35 demonstrate more introversion. It says, “In the morning, a great while before day he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.”This was after a busy day in which he shared the gospel in the synagogues and healed people. Again in Mark 6:46 it says, “And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.”
I believe that Jesus needed this time alone, not only to communicate with God but also to energize himself, either to prepare for what was to come, as in 1:35, or to immediately recharge himself after time with others, as in 6:46. I also believe he understood life before living it and had his thoughts fully formed before he spoke. These are all hallmarks of Introversion.
In conclusion, I’d say Jesus is more of an introvert (I).
Sensing or Intuition
The second letter is either Sensing (S) or Intuition (N). This is how people process information. Sensors make up 70 percent of the American population. They are realists who focus more on the present and past than the future and focus on factual and concrete information. In other words, they tend to see the trees rather than the forest. Contrast this with Intuitives. Intuitives focus on the why, the vision, the future possibilities. They have a propensity to see patterns, associations, and connections between facts. In other words, they tend to see the forest rather than the trees. Intuitives make up only 30% of the population.
Jesus definitely focused on the importance of each person and took care of each situation. He had a keen eye with details. Here’s a case in point. Mark 5:43 talks about raising a girl from the dead and Jesus says “…told them to give her something to eat.”
However, what stand out to me more strongly his Jesus’ focus on big picture and the future. In Mark 1:17, for instance, we are told that “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.’ “ He saw not only who his disciples were, but who they could and would become. His teaching style also reminds me of a Intuitive. While sensors are quite literal, down-to-earth, straight forward in their communication, Intuitives tend to be more abstract. Jesus spoke mostly in parable. For example, in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:3) Jesus taught about farming, which was a regular and prominent aspect of people’s lives. But would they naturally make the connection between a farmer sowing seeds and God sowing his word into people’s hearts? Mark 4:10 indicates that this parable wasn’t well understood. This fits with the presumption that most of his hearers had a preference for Sensing.
In conclusion, I’d say Jesus is more of an Intuitive (N).
Feeler Or Thinker
Once we take in information, we use it to make decisions in life. Here the letters are either T for Thinking or F for Feeling. Thinkers have a preference for making decisions based on objective facts and impersonal criteria. They seek rational order and logic and value justice and fairness supremely. Feelers on the other hand make decisions based on their personal core values and motives. They value kindness and harmony supremely.
In John 8:3-11 Jesus had an encounter with a woman caught in adultery who, according to the Law of Moses, deserved to be stoned. Several later manuscripts suggest he wrote on the ground a list of all the sins of the scribes and Pharisees who brought the woman to him. Then he said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7).” After the scribes and Pharisees all walked away, he told the woman that he did not condemn her either.
To me this is a clear indication of a preference for Feeling. Justice, valued by Thinking types, would have most likely leaned toward her being stoned. Thus John 8:5-6 states that the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus what he had to say about the woman, whom the law commanded should be stoned, “to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.” But kindness, valued by Feeling types, liberated her for a fresh start in a life free from the sin that had ensnared her.
At the same time, Jesus often fought against tradition, complacency and the status quo. This is demonstrated in Mark 11:15-18 when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple and Mark 12:38 when he warmed people to be aware of the scribes.
Judger or Perceiver
Last but not least, the final letter is about your orientation to life and the world. This is Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). This is the perhaps the most debatable one. Judging types value structure and systems and control. They like to have for themselves a systematic plan. They enjoy setting goals, organizing, scheduling and deciding. In contrast, Perceivers tend to let life happen and make last minute decisions since they like to know all the options as possible. They are brilliant improvisers and adapt to whatever situation they are in.
Jesus shows the characteristics of a Judging type in that he seemed to have a clear plan for his life, to know who he was and what his purpose was, from the beginning of his ministry, if not from the very beginning of his life. Yet, like a Perceiving type, he also seemed to be flexible and able to shift gears quickly, not minding terribly when his plans were interrupted. In Mark 6:31 he invited the apostles to join him in escaping to a lonely place for some rest. But a crowd of people met them there and, having compassion on them, Jesus taught them instead of resting.
It might almost be anyone’s guess what the fourth letter in Jesus’ type code was. Perhaps he did not have a clear preference. But I once read that Judgers focus on responsibility while Perceivers focus on discovery, two very different life purposes. When looked at this way, I believe his preference, though perhaps only slight or moderate, was most likely for Judging.
So, here’s my conclusion based on what I’ve read from the Scriptures. Jesus had preferences for INFJ or perhaps INTJ, INFP or INTP. This might explain why he stood out like a sore thumb. INFJ is the rarest of the MBTI types, making up only 1-2 percent of the American population. INTJ, INFP and INTP are not far behind at 3 percent – 4 percent, 4 percent – 5 percent, and 5 percent – 6 percent of our population, respectively.
Again, let me remind you that we all flex between introversion and extraversion, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, and judging and perceiving as appropriate to the situation.