"I don't know any parent who says, 'Yeah, I really…
As spiritual formation pastor, I have been pondering personality and a question on how personality types who are high “Thinkers” experience loving God. Do thinkers love God, or people, with a love that is more mind-oriented and much less heart-oriented?
As a high Feeler, I have a hard time entering into a high Thinker mindset, and when I look at helping people grow their love relationship with Jesus, bringing their faith beyond just being intellectual, I get stuck in how best to help those who are high Thinkers. Does that all make sense? I was thinking about this on my walk today and then you popped into my mind and I felt you were the right person to talk with about these questions. Would love to hear your thoughts!
Very good question! I have spoken with an INTJ who told me how her research of scripture, along with the Holy Spirit working in her life, gave her a deep love for Christ. When I talked with her she had been researching Eastern religions I believe, and the contrast of those religions in the light of Jesus’ grace and sacrifice filled her with a deep love and gratitude. I will invite her into this conversation, so you can hear her point of view.
It is true, that a thinking personality does not have the emotional pool to draw from like the other more feeling temperaments, but as they study apologetics, for example, and see the truth of God’s Word, it can open up their heart to love God in a deeper way. I am wondering if you had had thinking types approaching you struggling with their faith because they aren’t “feeling” anything? I would advise them to study apologetics and let the facts lead them to a rational understanding, which can lead them to awe and then love. A thinker type may never “feel” much. Even as a mate and parent, a thinker’s love is shown more in practical actions then it is in emotional displays. We all love in different ways and that is because we are created in God’s image, and as you learned in class he is multi-faceted with four faces: The Ox, the Lion, the Eagle, and the Human.
I think it is important for you as a high feeler to note that for a high thinker instead of speaking in terms of love for God, you could speak in terms of deep respect, awe, reverence, obedience, submission, devotion, and allegiance. These are all synonyms for love, but not as emotionally charged. Thank goodness there are stories in the Bible like doubting Thomas who had to touch Jesus’ scars in order to believe. For some temperaments, faith comes naturally, where others are naturally skeptical. The skeptics are created in God’s image as well and when they have been converted usually as a result of much research, they can be very powerful voices for God! I am thinking of Josh McDowell, Hugh Ross, RC Sproul, Lee Strobel, and Tony Campolo. I am not sure if they are NT’s, but I know some of them were skeptics who set out to disprove Christianity and ended up finding it instead.
I also think of the Centurian in the Bible. There is nothing that says he was a thinker, but he was a high ranking official who had to lead many men. 75% of men are thinkers, so there is a great chance he was a thinker. Jesus made note of his tremendous faith, not because of his display of love, but because of his display of faith. He had probably seen Jesus perform miracles and had decided that Jesus was indeed God’s son. Because of this black and white decision, he was able to believe that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed. This was a very non-emotional, matter of fact encounter and yet, Jesus spoke very highly of his faith.
I would love to hear what Jess thinks of this response and would also love to hear what you have to say on the topic, Jess!
Wendy, this is a beautiful, beautiful answer. You are so gifted! I really appreciate you writing this all out. It does help me to ponder. And Jess, thank you for all you have shared!! I totally resonate with you, as although it sounds funny, I have those same thoughts and responses when I study, and the intellectual pursuit of God is huge for me even as a “Feeler”. I think of myself as far on the Feelings scale, yet I do have a lot of Thinker in me as well. Nothing you said sounds strange to me at all!
Thanks for the reminder, Wendy, that each personality is a reflection of God. That message is so important!
Thanks for this very helpful discussion, ladies!! You are both such gems!
Dear Wendy and Phyllis,
I have struggled with not “feeling” Jesus and one day when I was pondering this I heard Him whisper to my heart, “You don’t need to feel me, you know that I am there”. To me, an INTJ that held all the weight of a huge hug or love note. Wendy is right about studying bringing me closer to God. When I am studying something and learning new truths it feels like God is sending me little love notes. I fall in love with Him all over again when I see how amazing His grace is, or what being a disciple means. I am the odd one who reads books on theology and find truths that bring me closer with the Lord. I have read most of the authors Wendy mentioned and in their own way, each book I read pulled me into a deeper relationship with Jesus. It’s not that we don’t feel or have feelings, it’s just that rational things are what seems to trigger those feelings. For example, I recently read Bill O’Riley’s book Killing Jesus, which is a historical account of the crucifixion of Christ. He pulled in as many facts about what would have happened as possible from historical records. Reading those facts made me overwhelmingly grateful for what Christ did for us on the cross. At one point I fell to my knees sobbing and thanking God for sending His Son. What Jesus went through, factually, meant so much to me.
I also agree that terms like respect and reverence mean a lot to me. Obedience is how we show we love Jesus. As a T, I find it difficult to believe that someone loves Jesus if they are not obeying Him. They just flow together for me. It is the practical application to loving Him. In preparation for an upcoming sermon on being a true disciple, I have learned a lot of things about Jesus as a Rabbi and the cost of discipleship. The facts I learned lead me to seek Him all the more and, as part of that, to serve others more faithfully. While I may not have the exact same feelings as Brenda, I do get excited and, in my own way, emotional about the facts. It is the rational things that lead me to the arms of Christ. When I realize that He alone offers the assurance (complete assurance!) of heaven, I praise Him for His grace and love. To me, that assurance is one of the most loving things He could do for us. Or, when I learn how in Jewish culture it was virtually forbidden to pray to say, “My Father” and the fact that Christ did pray that way was a way of announcing that He was the Messiah! Oh, how wonderful! It is beautiful what He does all over scripture, but they are little jewels waiting to be found by us thinkers.
My friends know me as “Hermione”, a particularly studious character in the Harry Potter books because I say that I am closest to God when I am studying about Him. I love the quote I recently came across (while studying!). The rabbis of old used to say that, “when we pray we talk to God, when we study His word He talks to us.” That quote is a good summary of how thinkers can get close to God.
I hope that helps. :)