To what extent is the calling of a church planter connected to personality? I recently attended an Acts 29 boot camp that also included an assessing process. This process included two personality profile tests, several questionnaires regarding doctrine and personal history, and 3 references. After the boot camp, Laura and I spent two hours in a dimly lit room in an abandoned warehouse filled with Gestapo types who asked us about our personal lives, ministry experience and whether or not we knew a certain “Morpheus.” Most importantly, they were interested in discerning a definite sense of calling.
What I found quite interesting in all of this was the notion that certain personality types make better church planters. The bar-fighting hothead who was a cheerleader dating running back in high school seems to be a good fit for church planting because these guys score high on qualities of entrepreneurship. This was the main point of emphasis in the personality profiles. When I told the assessor that I am more of an introvert, he said, “that’s rough.”
Now the question: to what extent is personality bound up in calling? This is different from ministry ability, because dorks and jocks can both preach good sermons. But does a particular personality type fit best with church planting?
My personality profile is “ENTZ,” which is Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Organizing. This type scores high on entrepreneurship, which is surprising to me because I always thought of myself as more introverted. Of this personality type it is said that the “ENTZ cannot NOT lead.”
This is my conclusion: there is the inevitable conclusion that certain personality types are going to thrive in a pressure cooker, while others will wilt. The purpose of the assessment is to determine how much heat can you take before you wilt. If you freak out easily, then you’re probably going to buckle under the constant pressure of planting a church.
But the calling in and of itself cannot be determined by personality, because God operates beyond these parameters. Where God calls a man, He gives him the necessary tools to accomplish that calling. But we need to be realistic and recognize that God often calls a person based on how he’s already created and wired that person from the beginning.
God’s calling does not appear out of nowhere, at a certain point in time, but is something that is woven into the fabric of that person’s life, is always evolving, and the development of personality is part of the deal.
So, no, personality is not the key factor. Churches will reflect the personality of their pastor in five years anyway. We need a diversity of personality types planting a diversity of churches. But certain people will have a more difficult time with certain aspects of leading because everyone responds differently to different situations.