As we begin this month’s focus on Missions Mobilization, we wanted to provide some helpful tools for you to use in evaluating those who have shown interest in overseas missions and assessing their personalities. These tools will help you lead them well as a missions leader and set them up to be led well in the future.
It is valuable in the process of working with those considering overseas missions to evaluate their strengths, their weaknesses, and their barriers to success in overseas missions. The stakes for sending are too high to ignore this process.
The first tool we recommend is the Health Assessment and Church Interview Guide, which provides a list of questions based on five areas of health: spiritual, emotional, relational, ministry, and personal. This guide is useful for potential Sent Ones to assess themselves and for missions leaders to use as they conduct interviews with potential Sent Ones. I often tell churches that if they’re going to use one tool to assess their Sent Ones, it should be this guide. Having your potential Sent Ones write out answers to these questions and then walking through their answers with them is a great way to start the sending process and lets you spot areas for growth that might not come up in normal conversation.
Once you have worked through the Health Assessment and Church Interview Guide, you can use their responses to create a Personal Development Plan for them based on the areas of growth you discovered. This is a helpful resource for setting agreed upon growth steps that you can both revisit. We have cultivated a list of Resources for Personal Development Plans that would be great for you to check out as you help your potential Sent Ones grow.
One particular area that is important to evaluate is emotional health. Peter Scazzero wrote the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and created an Emotional Health Assessment to go along with it. This assessment is great for gauging if your Sent One is an emotional infant, child, adolescent, or adult. For more on this, check out our blog post from 2020 titled “Developing Emotionally Healthy Sent Ones.”
The Kingdom of God is not served by its members striving to live out of an identity that they believe for themselves but that doesn’t align with reality.
As we move from assessment to the development of our Sent Ones, one of the things we want to create in them is a healthy awareness of who God has made them to be and how it impacts their vocation and their relationships. How many headaches in ministry and in the workplace have been caused by people trying to do things they are not gifted to do? It may happen because a person lacks self-awareness or because a supervisor has placed them in the wrong position; either way, someone playing a role that does not suit them is unfair to the person and to the mission or company they are serving. The Kingdom of God is not served by its members striving to live out of an identity that they believe for themselves but that doesn’t align with reality. Jesus perfectly had and displayed all the spiritual gifts—God did not make the rest of us this way. When we try to be something we are not, we miss the grace of limitation that frees us to live out who we are.
For believers, the pursuit of finding one’s sweet spot in life and ministry is not about fulfilling dreams or making life easier; it is about discovering the creativity of God in a person made in his image and setting that person free to run in the direction God has uniquely created them to go so they can make the greatest impact for his Kingdom.
Through growing self-awareness and humility, a believer can become comfortable in who God made them to be and then live that out. While they have their limitations, personality tools can be helpful mechanisms for discovering one’s unique personality and giftings. They should never be taken as gospel or be deemed prophetic, as this can lead to unhealthy self-fulfilling prophecies. A good rule of thumb when looking at personality test reports is to:
Highlight what seems spot on.
Cross-out what seems off.
Share your results with others to allow them the chance to speak into whether or not the results fit you.
Here are a few personality tests I have found helpful in assessing Sent Ones and developing their self-awareness:
This is the classic personality test out there. Is assesses applicants in where they fit on four spectrums:
Introvert to Extrovert
Sensing to Intuition
Thinker to Feeler
Judging to Perceiving
These four categories are each given a score on the spectrum, and the applicant is given four letters. These four letters combine to produce sixteen possible personality types, and each type has a description that explains the determined personality. Myers-Briggs is a non-judgmental personality test because the different personality types’ strengths and temperaments are not given greater or lesser value.
My favorite Myers-Briggs test is here: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test. I am an ISFJ. Here’s an example of the readout that is received after taking this test.
The Enneagram test is my personal favorite. It has gotten a little bit of a bad rap because the lines form a pentagram and, therefore, some consider it to have Satanic roots (how’s that for marketing!), but I have found Enneagram to be the most accessible and the easiest to talk about with others. One of the pros of the Enneagram is that it defines what a healthy and unhealthy version of each personality type is, and it provides ways to move towards health. In team scenarios it’s fairly easy to digest and work through with others. Since there are only nine types, it’s easier to understand the strengths and blindspots of each than it is with Myers-Briggs.
I am an Enneagram 1 wing 2, which means I’m primarily a reformer/values keeper who enjoys helping others. More than any other test, the Enneagram has helped me live into the healthy aspects of my personality and recognize the unhealthy aspects.
You can take a free Enneagram test here: https://www.yourenneagramcoach.com/. If you want to use a paid version, then go here: https://www.truity.com/test/enneagram-personality-test.
APEST is based on the spiritual gifts list in Ephesians 4:11–13: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, and Teacher. While there are many lists of spiritual gifts in the Scriptures, Ephesians 4 is particularly helpful for understanding gifts that equip the body of Christ for the work of ministry. Being aware of the primary gifting one is working from in a ministry and team setting is really helpful for understanding the motivations of oneself and other teammates. There are some who would have similar Enneagram or Myers-Briggs results to me but who have a different APEST gifting. When I’m in disagreement with these people, knowing their giftings can help me better understand their viewpoint.
You can purchase the APEST test for $10 at: https://5qcentral.com/product/apest-vocational-assessment/. They will give a readout like this that lists the top two gifts a person tested for.
Other personality tests include: DISC, Strengths Finder, Insights, and Grip Birkman. Many of these are paid-for services and are most helpful when accompanied by a seminar or book that explains them. It also helps to do these tests with a team so you can learn from one another how to work well together.
God gave the church the opportunity to speak into the calling of those considering overseas work.
God gave the church the opportunity to speak into the calling of those considering overseas work (Acts 13:1–3). Finding tools and methods for understanding who should go overseas and helping them become the person they were created to be is an important role of the church. As in any practical ministry recommendation, none of this works without deep reliance on the Holy Spirit through prayer. Work hard to know your people and trust in the Lord to help your church give great direction to your potential Sent Ones.
Mike Ironside is Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. He has served on staff with Cornerstone since 2006 in varying roles–from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for two years. Mike is the Director of Cohorts and Content for the Upstream Collective. He also serves as Chairman of the Board for Campus to Campus, a missions organization dedicated to getting US college students connected to church-planting movements among college students worldwide.