On September 4, 2016 Mother Teresa was canonized as a Saint within the Roman Catholic church by Pope Francis. In the days leading up to this event there were many media articles written about Mother Teresa, some positive, some negative, and a few neutral. The comments section is where I was surprised by the volume of negative opinions and thoughts about the woman herself, her work, and her worthiness for canonization.
I’m not surprised there are people who are still angry at the historical atrocities committed by the Roman Catholic Church, I can’t fault these people for being angry, but I can’t point fingers at the Catholic Church without pointing fingers at my own denomination; they are equally as guilty for causing much historical harm to society, and colonized many nations and cultures around the world.
In reading about Mother Teresa I came to find out that she is classified as a Meyer’s Brigg’s INFJ. This personality type is described as the following:
“INFJs indeed share a very unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in. They are decisive and strong-willed, but will rarely use that energy for personal gain – INFJs will act with creativity, imagination, conviction and sensitivity not to create advantage, but to create balance.” Personality.com
“[INFJ’s] have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential.” Kiersy.com
These traits sound like the description and work of Mother Teresa. When I was reading about her personality temperament, I also learned about another INFJ; Adolf Hitler. Surprising isn’t it? At first I thought there had to be a mistake; how could two people who seem to be complete opposites share the same personality type?
After reviewing the weaknesses of the INFJ type, I had a better understanding how an INFJ such as Adolf Hitler can behave in an evil manner.
The weaknesses of INFJ’s are: Sensitivity, intense need for privacy, perfectionist, always needing to have a “cause”, and an increased potential for burnout. (Source: personality.com)
Personalitypage.com further explains the unhealthy part of the INFJ nature:
“They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress. …Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubbornness and tendency to ignore other people’s opinions.”
Each personality type has strengths and weaknesses, and as you can see, the INFJ weaknesses can be extremely opposite to their strengths. Mother Teresa used her strengths for doing what she believed to be the work of God. She believed she was called to be with the suffering and those in poverty. She did not believe that anyone should die alone and unloved.
In order to achieve her vision and goals, I’m sure she had to be strong willed, decisive, and determined. Being an INFJ things could have easily gone wrong. She could have easily channeled her negative side and caused the world turmoil. Her opposite was Adolf Hitler who operated from the negative traits of the INFJ. He was stuck in the unhealthy state of mind of an INFJ. Hitler trusted his own instincts, and focused on his own selfish goals; believing that they were right. Trust is difficult for the INFJ, and it is known that Hitler did not trust very many people. It’s a difficult concept to accept, but somewhere in his disturbed mind, he believed he was doing the human race something good. We know his evilness resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives.
I am an INFJ, I am also a 6 in the Enneagram. Guess who else is a 6? You guessed it, Hitler. I was upset to read this, but again, after reading the descriptions for these temperaments, I wasn’t surprised.
Sixes on the Enneagram have security as their main motivation in life, “Key Motivations: Want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to fight against anxiety and insecurity” (Enneagram Institute).
Hitler needed security. He was described as being insecure. His idea of security was to create a nation where he is in charge and anyone he doesn’t like or believe is worthy of life is killed. His security came at the expense of other people’s lives.
I took a few deep breathes and assured myself that I was nothing like Hitler. I don’t believe in taking people’s lives or violating the human rights of others. I believe in security for myself, others, and society, but there’s a wrong and a right way to go about achieving this.
These extremes within the same personality type reminded me of the importance of having God in my life and the teachings of Jesus. I was reminded that despite having a certain type of personality or temperament, I still have to do the work to build a healthy character. Whatever I do must be covered in love, compassion, and understanding.
We see and hear about the fruit of the spirit so much that I think we as believers don’t take it seriously enough. If we take godly character development seriously, we will be less likely to gravitate towards the toxic and unhealthy parts of our personality traits. The difference between Mother Teresa and Hitler was this: she was about serving others and loving people in the name of God, she never lost sight of this. Hitler on the other hand, was selfish, everything he did was to make himself great, even if it cost millions of people their lives. They were both INFJ’s, they both had a vision, and they each fulfilled their goals with very different results.
Regardless of your personality trait or temperament; be sure that you are operating from a place of God’s love, mercy, and grace.
What are your worst personality or temperament traits?
Pray and ask God to help you grow in your strengths and decrease in your weaknesses so that you can be the best of what God created you to be.