What do you know about yourself? That is an odd question to ask, but one that has come up more often than I ever imagined possible in the past few years of my life. As I transitioned from high school into college classes, then into the corporate world there was a continuous need to understand my strengths and weaknesses for job placement . Now understanding my spiritual gifts and strengths impacts the team around me as well as those I lead in ministry. It is initially uncomfortable and sometimes frustrating to learn about yourself. I have found a few areas in particular that have struggled with, and even more reasons why this continual development and understanding are vastly important.
Struggles of Self-Discovery
- This is ridiculous! Initially I found myself feeling ridiculous at the idea that I would not understand myself. Why are my personality type or the traits I am strongest in that important? But it is incredible what an understanding of the different aspects of yourself can explain about your tendencies and responses. I have spent years feeling frustrated at the limited amount of time I could spend with my friends before I began to feel irritable and exhausted. It turns out that I have a borderline introverted personality that, when combined with the rest of my traits, means that I like to listen to and interact with my friends to a point. After awhile, I need to be alone to recharge and process. Nothing wrong with me, just the way I am made.
- Never-ending process. It can be tiring to learn new things about you that challenge the view you have of yourself. Sometimes I want to be comfortable in the sarcastic, blunt, yet loving track that I am in. However, I know that I will become a much better wife, daughter, sister, friend, ministry director, and team-mate if I am continually looking to better myself. I have had to learn to let go of the satisfaction I found in my cutting comments to exchange them for the go-getter who gets things done effectively while still having a good time. Just because people around me liked how I was and enjoyed my company did not mean that what I had to say was the message God had directed me to deliver. He required me to let go, to “die to myself”, to grow into the woman who would do His works (Chapter 9 of Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman speaks more to the concept of dying to oneself).
- Who are you to tell me about me? I have struggled with this from a young age, when I would instantly find myself angry after my dad would mention something about me. It was rarely ever meant in a critical eye, but rather delivered in passing as we would work on a math problem together. As an adult, I have learned to handle criticism with grace I never thought I would develop. We are not always able to see and understand all of the elements that make up who we are.
- How will I ever grow past who I know myself to be? This has been frustrating for me previously when I had discovered a truth about myself that I didn’t care for. Not that it was a horrible detail, but rather something that I had identified as less than ideal in the world around me. The process ahead to not only learn that who I was currently was perfectly ok, then the daunting task of finding the points in which I would direct my efforts, seemed larger than my capability. This is where I am thankful for a God who is larger than my struggles, all-knowing and perfect in His plans for me. Jeremiah 1:5 speaks to the nature of our God who knows us before before, during our time on earth, and for all the days to follow after we finish our time here.
The Personal Importance of Self-Discovery
- Growth Improves Life. Growing is hard, uncomfortable, and at times inconvenient. You could potentially wake up an entirely different person than you were a month ago after some deep discovery and soul-searching. Ultimately growing in yourself will improve the life you have been given. There are numerous reasons why this is true. The first reason being that we are called to improve and grow, stretching ourselves to be better as directed by our Savior. We also stand to gain much more out of life when we are not continually questioning ourselves or subconsciously worrying over our personal doubts.
- Comfort in Your Own Skin. If you have ever been in a situation that made you doubt your ability, your brain, your words, or even your physical appearance then you will know how incredibly uncomfortable life can be. An understanding of oneself may not take away comments from others or looks from strangers, but it certainly can change the way you process (or completely ignore) these things! Confidence in what you know of yourself allows you to tell the situation how it will impact you (along with an all mighty God who always has your best interest at heart).
- Effectiveness in Your Responsibilities. Likely the most obvious benefit of understanding yourself is the enhancement of your proficiency and performance in your responsibilities. This spans from household tasks and how they are shared at home through functioning with people at work.
These are the discoveries I have made over several years, with each encounter of learning about my own personality leading me to grasp better the importance of truly growing in oneself. We will always be changing as we learn and grow into bigger, better people. It is the spirit of improvement that allows us to take these changes in stride within our lives and better ourselves. If I am working to improve my financial standings, my serving at church, the amount of love I show my husband, and to draw closer to God by studying His word then why would I ignore the evidence shown from simply being intentional with my personal understanding?
Have I convinced you that it is valuable, if not challenging, to learn more about yourself? These are a few recommendations I can make that I have personally utilized to learn about myself:
- Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator – This personality test is one I have utilized in understanding the basics of myself, taken at various points in my life. It is intended to take the seemingly random things we know about ourselves and to explain them in a way we can make use of. The personality types are determined through a series of questions answered and calculated. Over time, different parts of my personality indicator have changed, whether due to life changes or maturing is hard to say. Here you can find the introductory page for the test.
- Spiritual Gifting Test – My husband and I were recently introduced to this assessment at a friend’s Bible study. The version we took was a short series of questions that result in a low to high-ranking of different parts of spirituality. It is a great tool for helping those who may not know where to begin in their journey to serve, or for someone such as myself as a tool to develop areas that I am low. You can find something similar to the assessment we took here.
- True Colors Personality Indicator – This test is one I have taken in leadership classes. The concept is similar to that of the Myers-Briggs in which you answer a series of questions that will result in an indicator, in this case a color, that reflects your personality type. I did not care for this test due to the stigmas colors can apply to our perceptions (i.e. red is used for stop and danger), but I would encourage you to try the various types of tests to learn as much as you can. A similar style of test can be found here.
- The Bible – Stay with me because this is one resource that may seem like an obligatory inclusion. But the Word given to us to know Him and to instruct us on how to live is full of examples from stories, commands, and insights that provide the ultimate spiritual test. While this is not a simple 50 question list that ends with a result instructing how to best interact with others, it does ask questions each day about the state of the heart and the way life is currently lived. There is no simple way to test yourself against the Bible, but taking the time to be in the Word allows God to speak into you in a way He may not otherwise be able to. If you are looking for a way to get started into the Bible or would like a resource for reading plans, YouVersion provides a mobile solution.
These are my thoughts, feelings, and general bits of advice on self-discovery, and the tools that are available to begin learning more about you. Good luck on you path to learning more about you!