In recent years, Christians have struggled to discern how they might best engage with and utilize personality tests. The volume of tests on the internet leaves many wondering about the differences and benefits. In a recent survey of college students, 84% of respondents believe Christians should use personality test assessments, yet 85% said they have seen them misused in religious contexts.
When asked how Christians could use the tests properly, the overwhelming and nearly unanimous response was that they should be a tool rather than an identity. Many personality tests exist. Here is an overview of six of the current most popular assessments.
The Birkman test works differently than many of the others because it assesses people based on their interests, usual behavior and needs/stress behaviors along the “compass” of two qualities: introverted or extroverted, and task-focused or people-focused.
The Birkman test features four colors that make up the compass. In the top left quadrant, extroverted, task-focused people are categorized as red. The top right quadrant — the extroverted, people-focused — are categorized as green.
The bottom right quadrant, the introverted, people-focused, are categorized as blue. Lastly, the bottom left quadrant are those who are introverted and task-focused, on order and systems. They are categorized as yellow.
The strongest part of the Birkman test is that it uniquely views people on a compass with the vertical axis measuring extraversion and introversion, and the horizontal axis measuring orientation toward tasks or people. By doing this, the Birkman test is able to rightly assess the gifts and usual behavior of others.
The test does a good job of presenting the compass, but it should be used primarily in work contexts rather than relational. The Birkman test helps employers and ministry leaders assess employees and volunteers and place them where they can serve most effectively.