“It’s All in the Letters”

1 Cor 12:1-26
South Presbyterian Church – September 1, 2013
The Reverend Deborah Fae Swift

Part I – During the Emerging Wisdom Portion of Worship
As you may know, in the Presbyterian Church, the Minister of Word and Sacrament (i.e. me) is also called a Teaching Elder (as opposed to those who sit on Session who are RULING Elders).
Well, today, the accent is going to be on the “TEACHING” part of that title because we are now entering into a phase in our growth as a Faith Community, where it will HELP us in our individual and corporate relationship with our spiritualities to know a little bit more about what makes us tick, AND how we are alike and different from others in their spiritual needs.
In the early part of the last century, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers used the work of Carl Jung to try and understand human behavior and psychological types – how we are hard wired at birth to interact with each other and with our environment.
They began creating a series of questions which, I learned, was used a LOT during World War II, because it was discovered that a knowledge of personality preferences helped women who were entering the industrial workforce for the first time to identify the sort of war-time jobs in which they would be “most comfortable and effective”.
That initial questionnaire grew into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which was first published in 1962. The MBTI, as it’s called, focuses on normal populations like us and emphasizes the value of knowing what we are most comfortable with in processing information in our lives.
And since then, there’s been a lot of study about how that affects our relationships, INCLUDING our relationship with God.
So I thought it would be fun on this Labor Day weekend … to honor these two women, Myers and Briggs, and the many ways that their work STILL lives on in companies today … many of whom administer an updated (and much longer) version of this. AND I thought it would fit right in with our reading in a little bit from 1 Corinthians.
So during our Emerging Wisdom portion of the service, we’re going to spend just a little time filling this out … I’ll walk you through it … and talking a bit about it. And I fully expect that Emerging Wisdom today will be longer than the Sermon/Reflection … 
Okay … now keep in mind that none of these types is better or worse than the others. However, Briggs and Myers theorized that individuals naturally prefer one overall combination of type differences. In the same way that writing with the left hand is hard work for a right-hander, so people tend to find using their opposite Myers-Briggs preferences more difficult, even when they can become proficient with them through practice and development.

Now as you look at your OWN Attitudes: of extraversion or introversion (E/I), think about this is terms of what you like in a worship service, or in terms of your own prayer life. The first continuum reflects what generically energizes a person.
People who prefer extraversion draw energy from ACTION: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their motivation tends to decline. To rebuild their energy, extraverts need breaks from time spent in reflection. Extraverts are those who want, enjoy and NEED to clap and move around to the music. 
Conversely, those who prefer introversion “expend” energy through action: they prefer to reflect, THEN act, then reflect again. To rebuild THEIR energy, introverts need quiet time alone, away from activity. Silent prayer.
Boy, that speaks volumes about deepening our relationship with God, doesn’t it?
Extraverts want a “breadth” of knowledge and experience … a lot of DIFFERENT things, while introverts seek “depth” of knowledge and FEWER different thigns.
Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with OTHER PEOPLE, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone.
Hmmm … so for SOME, worshipping TOGETHER is VERY important … and for others … not so much. For the 6 or 7 who came to Casual Worship this summer and DIDN’T come to Sunday service … I would guess they prefer smaller groups, were Introverts OR were away on weekends. 
Now the second continuum (the S/N) reflects what a person focuses their attentions on and the third reflects the person’s DECISION preferences.
Sensing and intuiting are the ways we take IN information. They describe how new information is understood and interpreted. Individuals who prefer sensing are more likely to trust information that they get from their SENSES … they are sensate. They want information that is in the present, tangible, and concrete: that is, information that can be understood by the five senses. They tend to distrust hunches, which seem to come “out of nowhere”. They prefer to look for details and facts. For them, the meaning is in the data.
So how many of you had an “S” in that category. (I thank you for your patience with me when I come up with something that you think is “out there” just because my intuition tells me to go there. I know that’s a challenge for you.)
On the other hand, those who prefer intuition tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical. Intuitives may be more interested in future possibilities than what current data shows. For them, the meaning is in the underlying theory and principles which are manifested in the data.

On the third continuum, if you are a “T,” you desire OBJECTIVE truth and LOGICAL principles and are natural at deductive reasoning. FEELING types, the “F’s” place an emphasis on ISSUES and CAUSES that can be personalized while they consider other people’s motives and FEELINGS.
The Thinking/Feeling continuum, is really about DECISION-MAKING functions. (Remember, the last continuum was how we take IN the information and THIS continuum is on how we PROCESS that information.)
Those who prefer thinking tend to decide things from a more detached standpoint, being logical, and consistent.
Those who prefer feeling tend to come to decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation, looking at it ‘from the inside’ and weighing the situation to achieve the greatest harmony or consensus, considering the needs of the people involved.
THINKERS are concerned with the truth and view it as more important than being tactful.
FEELERS will OVERLOOK or minimize inconsistencies or illogical arguments because their definition of “truth” is filtered through what the other is feeling.
Does this make sense?
Can you think of some situations where you’ve seen that in your own life?

Now let me tell you that most CLERGY … and people in the helping professions are NF’s. Most engineers are not. 

And finally … the last continuum. It’s sometimes referred to as the Lifestyle continuum … but today that can have other meanings. It is really how the person regards complexity. And we use the terms judging/perception (perceiving) (J/P).
This is not judging as in being judgmental … Judging types will thrive when information is organized and structured, and they will be motivated to complete assignments to gain closure.
Perceiving types will flourish in a flexible learning environment. They are stimulated by new and exciting IDEAS.
Now Remember: this is not saying one is better than the other… although most of us think that OUR way is the BEST way … which it IS for us, but is NOT for the next person.
“J’s” want things to be neat, orderly and all planned out.
“P’s” are more comfortable being “loosey-goosey” and planning as they go.
Think for a minute about going on vacation. The J’s will have everything outlined, the itinerary all set in advance. P’s will let the vacation unfold as they go.
Or … in terms of rearranging the living room. J’s will measure and have a little drawing before they start … P’s will start moving furniture and it will all make sense by the end. They’re PERCEIVING as they go.
So before we stop with THIS part … let’s see a show of hands for each of these types … listen for your 4 letter combination … How many of you are:
11–14% of the US population
All right … let’s keep that in mind as we continue with our Scripture Reading for today.


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