Pastors' Forum


Inventories and Testing

I hear other pastors talk about giving “personality profiles” and “gift mix tests” to help determine the temperaments and the giftings of their people. I’ve also heard of these being used in providing spiritual guidance, especially in terms of helping people prepare for marriage. Has this truly been helpful to churches and the people taking these kind of inventories? If so, how? Can you tell me some of the better tests and inventory tools that are available for use in the local church?


Pastor Troy Maxwell – Charlotte, NC

We have been using gift and personality tests in the engagement process of serving at Freedom House for many years. We have found that they are vital to helping people learn who they are, and most importantly, to find their place in the Kingdom.

We believe that to find your purpose/calling in life, we must serve God in some capacity—specifically in the local church. The gift/personality tests we give (below is the link to both of them) is not an end all/be all, but gives us a good idea as to a beginning fit for the particular person. We give the test in the 2nd part of our Get on Track (Church Next steps/Growth Track) class which is ‘Grow.’ We utilize it in the next class, ‘Serve,’ to place them or guide the person in the right direction. It also helps leadership know the personality of the person who is coming in.

As a leader, it really helps to know the personality, as each personality responds to different styles of leadership.

Pastor Mike Cameneti – Canton, OH

We currently utilize StrengthsFinder 2.0 in three areas:

  • Staff
  • Volunteers—those serving in coaching and leadership roles
  • Pre-marital counseling (along with the free resource

For our staff, it’s been helpful in two areas in particular:

  1. Hiring. Because the results focus on a person’s top five talents (their naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior), we’re better able to match an individual with the right position.
  1. Communication. We use the results to better understand one another so we can function effectively as a team. For example, an Activator and an Analytical could be considered polar opposites. But, if they know they will be working on a project together, and they know what benefits the opposite strength brings to the table, conflict can be averted, both can contribute from their own unique perspectives, and the end result is better for it.

For our volunteers, we’re finding it drives conversation and helps our leaders and volunteers understand each other and how they’re wired.

In some of our pre-marital sessions we have used both StrengthsFinder 2.0 as well as the free resource (based on the Myers-Briggs theory) to help couples prepare for marriage. Those who have utilized the resources have consistently said that’s what they found most helpful.

Pastor John Grunewald – London, England

While in the US once many years ago, a lovely couple that was hosting me asked me after a Wednesday evening service, “What is your personality profile?” I said I didn’t know and probably looked skeptical. The wife said, “Well, we will take care of that tomorrow morning on the way to the airport.” And the next morning on the way to the airport, they gave me 7 1/2 minutes to fill it out, and it took me 15 minutes, which already told them something about me. It was so accurate that it bothered me a little or enough to get me curious. We eventually invited that couple to Germany to teach us more about personality profile (they used the DISC system). It is quite simple to take; a little more difficult to read. They spent time with our Team, the students and us. It was very enlightening and we have used this ever since with our Second Year students.

We have also used Myers-Briggs, and I like both Myers-Briggs and DISC for different reasons. We use these differently than a company might at a staff retreat. For us, it does show us and the person taking the profile what their dominant personality profile is in certain “atmospheres,” like work, home, etc. But we take it a step further and ask, “What needs to develop in you, based on this profile, to help you fulfill your assignment on the earth?” It really is a fun and enlightening exercise. Plus, we can often tell that a person is really struggling just from their profile.

We have discovered a few things along the way. One, when the pressures of life come, most people revert to their personality, not the Word of God. This can then become a great discipleship tool to help that person. Two, only solid spiritual growth really develops a personality. And three, it really is helpful in getting to know your ministry teams better.

Here’s an example of this in my own life: when I was younger my greatest fear was probably public speaking. But my calling demanded that I do public speaking. My personality profile absolutely showed that this would be way outside the box for me to have public speaking as a major part of my work. By the time I found this out, I had already taken steps of faith and grown considerably to overcome some of the fear of public speaking. The personality profiles helped me to understand the process better and to help others where their calling required some major development of personality to finish their course.

I would highly encourage that if people are really interested in using personality profiles with their ministry teams, students, etc., that they get trained on how to give, read and use these profiles. Our experience is that most people miss some of the most important parts if they haven’t been trained.

Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA

Prepare – Enrich is one of the materials we’ve used to counsel couples considering marriage. This is a customized couple assessment program that identifies a couple’s strength and growth areas. The program is also designed to:

  • Strengthen communication skills
  • Identify and manage major stressors
  • Help resolve issues constructively
  • Develop a more balanced relationship
  • Understand and appreciate personalities
  • Establish personal and couple goals, and more

Personality Plus, created by Fred Littauer, is another tool we’ve used to help couples understand their own personality type and better understand the personality types of others.

Those who have gone through these materials have been blessed by what they’ve learned and commented on how effective they were in strengthening their relationship. They said that they also gave them a better understanding of the personality traits of others.

Pastor Frank Santora – New Milford, CT

We have used both gift personality profiles and gift mix tests and found them to be useful in both helping people to discover their gifts, and more importantly, to help lead people. Since most people are familiar with using these tools to help people identify their gifts as well as their strengths and weaknesses, I will focus my response on how they can help senior staff to be better leaders.

Often times, senior staff defaults into leading everyone the same way, gravitating to their own leadership style and expecting everyone to adapt. I used to be this kind of leader, but to be completely transparent, I felt like Phil Jackson trying to make the triangle offense work without Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. We all have seen how that has turned out in New York. Good leaders don’t try to force personnel into, or adapt into, something that they are not gifted to do or be. Instead, they learn how to get the best out of people and optimize their giftings by learning and leading from the perspective of what makes that staff or volunteer leader tick. That means that a good leader will have to spend more time in relational settings with some staff and can limit relational settings with others. In other words, staff meetings may be enough to maximize the gift of some, but not enough to bring out the best in others.

Another example would be learning who is organized and who is creative and supporting them in their area of weakness so they can excel in their area of strength. I have found that mixing gift testing and personality profiles provide me with insight into what makes those I am called to lead tick, and positions me to lead in such a way as to bring out the very best in them. The test that has been most helpful is called the DISC test. “DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits: dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. This theory was then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by industrial psychologist, Walter Vernon Clarke.” (taken straight from Wikipedia:

God bless and happy leading!

Pastor Craig McCune – Sandy, UT

I have found these tools to be very effective in helping us, and our people, to locate and understand one another as we move through life together.

I have utilized most of the more well-known tools —Myers-Briggs, Flag Page etc. – however, recently the tool I find most useful, accurate, and effective is Gallup Strengths Finder. This assessment is strengths-based and has enabled us to place the right people in the right positions. This in turn has increased their sense of fulfillment while serving, and at the same time, given us low burn-out rates and high production results.

Gallup emphasizes developing your strengths and not giving much attention to what we consider to be areas of “weakness,” which are in reality, what we are not strong in, and not a weakness at all. In taking this approach, the emphasis on “being the best you” is high, and working with those of differing strengths is an advantage and not a deficit.

We have found Strengths Finder to be especially useful in both premarital and marital counseling. It really gives emphasis to the reality of opposites attract. In fact, a major ministry who is known for their teaching on marriage (Jimmy Evans) has written a book with a strengths coach (Alan Kelsey) which is just now coming out.

So, yes, any of the tools can be of benefit to you and your ministry. I think God is opening doors of understanding to the body of Christ right now which includes many avenues of helping people which we may have rejected previously. I would encourage us all to trust God and the leading of His Spirit to lead us into new and higher ways of thinking.

There have been incredible breakthroughs in the mind sciences in recent years that can really help us more clearly understand what scripture has said all along about mind renewal and close fellowship with the father. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Especially if what you have been doing isn’t working.

Psa. 139:14 I will give you praise, for I am strangely and delicately formed; your works are great wonders, and of this my soul is fully conscious. (Bible in Basic English)

Pastor Jim Graff – Victoria, TX

They have been very helpful within the life of our church. Of course the bible tells husbands to dwell with their wives according to knowledge, and I think it’s because we can’t really love people well until we know what matters to them. It also helps us to value people and to nurture their potential when we know their strengths and weaknesses.

We have found both the DiSC test and Myers-Briggs test to be very helpful. And there are tests people take to help them recognize their motivational gifts as well. I found it helpful to learn about the benefits of each of these online and then to pray about how it can develop community in your church.

Pastor Duane Hanson – St. Paul, MN

I come from a business background where personality profiles and assessments were often used. When I found that they could also be used in the ministry, I did research on the various “Inventories and Tests” and their application. I found numerous resources and examples, from both a secular and a Christian perspective and found them very helpful.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to gather such a diverse mixture of men, each coming from such different backgrounds! The twelve disciples had their unique personality traits, and Jesus chose them above all others and passed on the assignment to birth and build the Church. When mixed together, what kind of chemistry would those personality traits produce? How did the personality of the zealot mix with the character traits of the tax collector? Church history and tradition gives only hints as to the personality profiles of the Twelve, with Peter being the most obvious, and later, when we’re introduced to Paul, we see a disciple with a completely different personality!

Over the years I’ve taught several classes along these lines and have summarized some of the different ways these personality profiles are defined and can be applied in our discipleship relationships. When a person can recognize why they respond the way they do in most situations, they can begin to focus on strengthening their character, and developing a pattern of behavior that demonstrates maturity.

Most of these personality profile tests will follow the basic “Temperament Traits” that supposedly originated with Hippocrates. He believed the human personality was separated into four primary character qualities that could be identified by specific behavior, or temperaments. These four “Temperament Traits” are:

  • Choleric
  • Sanguine
  • Phlegmatic
  • Melancholy

It may help if we understood the origin of the “temperaments,” which is basically a term from the Latin meaning “a mixing in due proportion.” What they were mixing were fluids, or humors, which is derived from the Latin word for moisture.

  • The person who was identified as Choleric had too much yellow bile, making him “bilious,” or short-tempered and ill-natured, but giving him a dynamic desire for action. As his chole, Greek for “bile,” was “mixed in due proportion,” he would tend to lean toward leadership positions.
  • A person with a lot of red blood coursing through his veins was Sanguine: they came across as cheerful, outgoing and optimistic, but not very serious or organized.
  • Phlegm was a cold, moist humor which caused people to be slow and sluggish but enabled them to stay calm, cool, and collected under pressure.
  • Too much melas, Greek for “black,” and chole added up to Melancholy: this person leaned towards being serious, to the point of being sad and depressive, but also thoughtful, deep, gifted and analytical.

The most commonly mentioned in my professional background and application of these personality traits is the D.I.S.C. System. Each word identifies the primary personality trait of an individual willing to take the test and honestly answer all the situational questions that helped graph their response.

D = Dominance
I = Influence
S = Supportive
C = Compliance

When applied to Believers who just want to help and serve in the church, and have a strong desire to be used by The Lord, we need to simplify the terminology. There are a variety of examples and illustrations that can replace these clinical or secular terms, many of which help us have a better picture of how a person will behave in any given situation.

In place of the D.I.S.C. System, here are the basic characterizations I have relied on over the years to identify personality tendencies and strengths:

  • Get It Done
  • Get Along
  • Get Appreciated
  • Get It Right

I’ve taken these tests enough times to recognize that my primary personality traits are a combination of “Get It Done” and “Get It Right!” Like most people, I don’t mind when my efforts are recognized and I “Get Appreciated.” And I always try to “Get Along” with people, but I find that “finishing” the project tends to come first before the “feelings” of other people involved in the project! Therefore, I’ve had to work at making sure I know who I’m working with on a major project, and how I may need to respond to their personality profile! If they’re just the opposite “mix” than me, I’ll need to focus on making sure I can get along with them, and that they know how much I appreciate their efforts!

Some of the other definitions commonly used may be helpful and give us a better understanding of those we work with:

The Director The Star The Audience The Producer
Have Control Have Fun Have Peace Have Perfection
The Worker The Talker The Watcher The Thinker
My Way The Happy Way The Easy Way The Right Way

In each set of four temperaments, there are variations and applications to the people around us. When we know this about each person we’re assigned to work with, we can have realistic expectations about their behavior and results.

Many of you may be familiar with the four characteristics and basic definitions used by several leading Christian authors, such as Gary Smalley & Dr. J. Trent. In their material, each temperament is identified by an animal:

The Lion The Otter The Golden Retriever The Beaver
assertive talkative attentive persistent
decisive fun loving loyalty detail-oriented
“Do it now” “It’ll work out” “Just relax” “By the book”

These are just a small sampling of the various “Temperament Traits” that can be used in helping people develop and strengthen their character, and mature as a Believer. My only warning to those who would tend to “label” a person based upon the results of one or more of these Inventories or Tests; Don’t think that person will always respond based on the dominant personality profile. I have found that every person is essentially a mixture of all four elements, and any one of these can come to the forefront when our “personality” is yielded to Christ, and the situation demands that we walk in love towards those around us!

Also, these definitions and traits are never to be used as an excuse for bad behavior! I’ve had to deal with those who are steeped in this “teaching” and have used their “dominant personality trait” as an excuse to be rude, critical, and uncaring! The “Heart” is the true source of these personality traits, and a heart surrendered to Christ will be a “doer of the Word” and demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit. They will be mature enough to control their “tongue,” and as James teaches us, then they can control their whole personality!

James 3:2 (Phillips NT)
We all make mistakes in all kinds of ways, but the man who can claim that he never says the wrong thing can consider himself perfect, for if he can control his tongue he can control every other part of his personality!

Many of us refer to the Amplified Bible when using a scripture in our messages. In 1 Timothy 1:19 we see an example of a phrase, when speaking of “faith,” that is common throughout the Amplified Bible:

Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) conscience.

However, there is another passage that uses this phrase that every Believer should consider, and especially every minister, which is found in 1 Timothy 4:15-16 in the Amplified Bible:

Practice and cultivate and meditate upon these duties; throw yourself wholly into them [as your ministry], so that your progress may be evident to everybody. Look well to yourself [to your own personality] and to [your] teaching; persevere in these things [hold to them], for by so doing you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Some other translations add to this point:
“…Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching.” ~ MSG

We should all take heed to Paul’s instructions to Timothy and “look well to our own personality”!

Pastor Jack Yurus – West Harrison, NY

We use the DiSC profile. It has helped us greatly as a church, and personally after taking the test and scoring an extremely high I personality, they pointed out that a high I personality can walk past the garbage and not see it. My wife of 15 years looked at me and said, “You really don’t see the garbage.” She realized that she was mad at me all those years for nothing. She started putting the garbage in front of the door. I will add that it changed the situation drastically but I still managed to walk over it occasionally.

I also realized that people that are sticklers for rules were not just trying to stop me from having fun, but they were just wired that way. It helped me to understand why my brother-in-law folded his dirty clothes before he put them in the laundry and why my dirty clothes piled up on the floor. Helping people to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as other’s strengths and weaknesses, helps to keep strife down.

As far as the test that determines gifts, they are a good guide, but I feel that putting the people in the right position needs to be done in prayer. Someone needs to have the specific assignment to evaluate and place people and keep moving them until you have the right fit. A few examples: there is a guy in our church who has served in the ministry of helps. He is the most faithful and has the best attitude. After meeting with him (which is something I do now even if someone looks like they are happy and in the right place), I found out that for ten years he had a desire to teach.

Another example would be myself. I was at a church for 18 years. If you asked me any time during those 18 years what I was going to do next, I would have said be an evangelist. If I take one of those tests, it would say evangelist; but I now know I am called to be a pastor. There are baseball players playing the outfield that can throw a hundred miles an hour; that doesn’t make them a pitcher automatically.

You also have to be careful that people aren’t filling positions based on needs. We have to find their gift, train them, and then support them and encourage them to step out. If you told me we were playing a baseball game and you wanted me to pitch, I would be thrilled. If I got to the mound and you handed me a lefty glove and said we need a lefty pitcher, I would be frustrated and unsuccessful.

The one thing that is making the biggest difference is communication. Ask questions. When you think you understand, ask more questions. If you think the person you are talking to understands, ask more questions. Hope this helped.

Pastor Tim Kutz – Bartlesville, OK

Taking inventories within the church is just like anything else you believe or open the church up to. There is a ditch on either side of the road. We should strive to find things of value, as well as things that flow well with our church culture, and stay in the middle of the road.

I have found certain inventories to be very beneficial as a tool to enhance certain things that I do. Personally, I avoid spiritual gifts discoveries, but I have known several pastors that they have worked well for. If you are going to implement a “test” or an “inventory,” do so with much prayer and make sure that it is right for you. I have seen mistakes in this area cause some who look to their pastor as their leader in an unfavorable light. Some inventories can be confusing and divisive. On the other hand, some inventories can bring life, spark and comradery.

One inventory that has aided in many churches, and I have seen bring a team spirit with unending team building is Gary Smalley’s Personality Type Inventory. It helps people understand how to identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as temperaments in those they are working with. Personally I think this particular inventory helps people understand those they associate with on a level that is both edifying and forgiving. It helps a person understand the tendencies of others which helps to reduce unreasonable expectations.

There is an inventory that I have used in premarital counseling that is very good, but takes training and qualification. It is called, “Before You Say I Do.” In order to administer or oversee this, training and certification is necessary. The certification process is not difficult, but without proper training the value of this decreases substantially. I believe that this is on the top of the list for preparing a man and woman for marriage. It can also be followed up with “After You Say I Do,” which is a marriage assessment, or better put, a marriage “tune-up.”

Pastor Barry Fredericks – Newton, CT

We do not use ‘personality profiles’ or ‘gift mix tests.’ I believe we may have tried something like this several years ago and discontinued doing it. My son, Adam, says he knows some churches who use these forms and they are of value to them. We seem to do fine with the ‘system’ we have in place as we integrate people into “team ministry.”

Only those who have gone through “we believe” classes (which are about the tenets of faith of GFC, etc.) and desired to become members of GFC, can serve on team ministry. We have found, as I am sure others have, that those serving in the church ‘hook in’ in a much healthier way than those who do not. Below are some of the main things we do.

1. Only GFC members can be on Team Ministry. At our “membership seminars,” we list all those areas of ministry available to members, and we strongly encourage all members to be involved.

2. As a church, we encourage members to be involved in the church and to seek the leading of the Holy Spirit concerning the direction He would lead them go in. If they do not have specific direction, we encourage them to get involved in some area of ministry.

3. New Christians, basically unfamiliar with the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, are encouraged to start with sort of ‘non-spiritual’ ministries – i.e. the parking lot, ushers, greeters, and the bookstore. As they mature, the Staff will offer interested members those areas where Bible teaching or a good knowledge of the Bible is required – i.e. Children’s Church; Youth Ministry; Prayer Room workers, etc.

4. There may already be direction in their heart, and we accommodate them if there is an opening and if they qualify. Certain team ministry positions, like praise and worship and audio, would require special skills sets in singing or playing a musical instrument.

5. The staff seeks the leading of the Holy Spirit, as well, and we approach members on a personal basis if we feel the member would be a ‘good fit’ in a certain area of ministry.

6. We have two “DNA meetings” each year, where we share with the congregation the heart and direction of the church. And if there are ‘team ministry’ needs, we present them, explain them, and encourage the members if it is possible for them to fill one of the needed areas.

7. If mature Christians join GFC, coming from another church, often we will check with their former pastor and if there are no ‘red flags’, following membership classes, we allow that member to be involved in areas of ministry they were involved in at their former church (if that is what they desire).

8. We try to schedule all team ministry people (with the exception of the praise and worship team) to a “one month on in serving and then two months off” to be sure they are in service to hear the Word and sit with family.

9. Pastor Sheila does most of the premarital counseling. We have been married 45 years, which will teach you a great many things. The church has had numerous ‘marriage seminars’ with ministers like Rev. Joe McGee. Pastor Sheila and I have read numerous books on marriage by well-known Christian authors on marital relations. Those who have gone through the counseling cannot say enough about Pastor Sheila’s insight.

We have a large percentage of our member’s active on “team ministry.” These are things that do seem to work for our church. Also, once a year (usually around Christmas), we host a “Team Ministry Appreciation Dinner,” which is paid for by the church and we serve filet mignon, etc. And we, the staff of the church, serve all of the members.

Pastor Jann Butler – Tacoma, WA

I have used “personality profiles” but more in the area of counseling people because it gives me helpful insight as to what I am dealing with/what is in them.

I have never used “gift mix tests” in providing spiritual guidance, though I am not opposed to it. I’ve simply used the Word by putting it alongside of them in spiritual evaluation.

I’m not sure of what is out there for good tools to use, but recently I ran across a book I really like by Dr. James B. Richards. It’s called, “How to Stop the Pain.”

Pastor Ray Eppard – Staunton, VA

We do utilize some assessment tools for both pre-marital counseling and also in our new members process. We have found these to be valuable tools that we use as a guide (we don’t use them as the end-all for how to look at and respond to people and situations). They can help give an idea of the person’s strengths and tendencies and provide understanding for why they respond in certain ways, etc.

These types of tools also help to provide individual self-awareness for the person who is filling it out. They can know and understand their own tendencies and strengths and why they may enjoy certain things over others and why they may find other things more challenging.

We utilize the “Prepare/Enrich” resource for pre-marital and marriage counseling — we find this helps more quickly identify areas of opportunity in the relationship that may take longer to identify through just a conversation.

We have a gifts assessment and personality profile that connects individual areas of interest and serving based on the responses and also identifies personality types using the “Get it Done, Get it Right, Get Appreciated, and Get Along” guide. This guide identifies whether people are more “task” or “people” focused and uses a chart to see where they fall based on their responses.