Wednesday, March 19, 2008

At the Kilns: Digging moles, cocking crows and doing what we were meant to do

A dear family friend, bestsister, posted a comment on a previous post of mine, where I cited C.S. Lewis stating that “A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow”---in other words, we must do what we were created to do. Bestsister goes on to ask, “How does one know exactly what it is they were created to do?” We know that we were “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14) and that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). But the question remains, “What are we supposed to do?”

On her blog, she recently took a personality test and discovered that she was an “encourager”---an apt designation, as she has been a blogging encourager, especially in light of my sometimes slack blogging habits. I took the same test, but I came up as a “person in transition.” Apparently, I am neither here nor there. Fortunately, I did not despair, and I took a personality test I participated in last year. You can take it by clicking here.

Fortunately, the test did not leave me in limbo. I am an ENFJ, which stands for Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging, also known as the Teacher Idealist. According to Joe Butt, I am among “the benevolent ‘pedagogues’ of humanity.” I was surprised by the descriptions of the Teacher Idealist, much of which I recognized as depicting my personality. On the Keirsey Temperament webpage, Teacher Idealists make up less than 2% or 3% of a population. I am a rare fellow, it seems. The top recommended job for people like me is, of course, teacher.

My wife took the same test, and she is an ISTJ, which stands for Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging, also known as Inspector Guardian (or as I like to say, affectionately, Inspector General). Fictional ISTJs are Puddleglum, the marshwiggle (from C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair) and Eeyore. Funny thing is, my favourite character in Winnie the Pooh is Eeyore and Puddleglum is unabashedly my favourite hero of The Silver Chair.

Whatever one may think of these sort of tests, I found it tremendously illuminating; especially illuminating is the reality that not everyone thinks the same way I do or is motivated by the same things that motivate me. This has been helpful in my marriage as well; it’s good to know I am married to Mrs. Puddleglum.

Having a better idea of who we are still doesn't completely answer the question of what we should do. In his excellent essay on “Membership”, C.S. Lewis describes the role of Christians within the body of Christ. One of the central points is the fact that we determine our role in relation to others in the church. The Apostle Paul’s metaphor of the “body” for describing Christian fellowship is powerful in that it defies both collectivism and individualism. An “eye” is distinct from the “heart” but neither the eye nor the heart is any good on its own.

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:16-20, “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body.”

Who we are and what we were created for is, in part, revealed when we associate with the body of Christ. In a candid moment (or perhaps a moment of flippancy), I lamented to a friend of mine (the Interim Pastor at my church), that there was no need for my service at this church. He immediately listed off five roles in need of immediate attention, all of which were suited to my gifts and temperament.

There is no easy answer to the question “What does God want me to do?” A good place to start is to toil right where God has placed you---at work, at home and at church---and see what opportunities arise. Secondly, ask your church---friends, elders, pastor. It is powerful when the ear says to the eye, “Although I can hear the waves, I need you to see the ocean.”

On personality, C.S. Lewis writes, “True personality lies ahead… and the key to it does not lie in ourselves. It will not be attained by development from within outwards. It will come to us when we occupy those places in the structure of the eternal cosmos for which we were designed or invented. As a colour first reveals its true quality when placed by an excellent artist in its pre-elected spot between certain others, as a spice reveals its true flavour when inserted just where a good cook wishes among the other ingredients… so we shall then first be true prsons when we have suffered ourselves to be fitted into our places. We are marble waiting to be shaped, metal waiting to be run into a mould.” (from “Membership” first read in Oxford on February 10, 1945)

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I would be ISFJ, otherwise known as the Protector Guardian

Literary characters are Bianca from Taming the Shrew and Ophelia from Hamlet....did I ever tell you Taming is my favourite Shakepeare? (followed closely by Othello). I always took myself to be more of a Katherine than a Bianca though...

Supposedly that turns up as some really important job choices, like nursing and social work and medical records assistant, child day care organizer (is that anything like "mom to 7"?)....

I'm not that organized. Maybe the sympathetic bedside manner bit, but the rest?...

I still must blog on this. I think I have more questions than answers.