[posting][opinion] Ceding INTJ Control: Part One

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
-Proverbs 3: 5-6

When it comes to being a Type 5w6 INTJ, I’m a pretty happy camper. However, there are some times when I frustrate myself or catch myself in one of the less healthy Type 5w6, INTJ habits, particularly when it comes to issues surrounding control. The desire to control the situation, environment, people, or even one’s own reactions is an issue which can manifest in a variety of different ways. I will be looking at one way I was challenged last night in terms of my desire to control.

Let’s begin with a short explanation of the INTJ’s ability (and curse): the never-ending desire (and consequent ability, at times) to understand and accept Life as it TRULY is. When I tell people that I don’t know something, or that I am lacking in a certain area, or that I am not working as hard as I could be, quite a few people will hasten to reassure me that I have enough on my plate, or that I am too hard on myself. Their instincts are kind, but their result isn’t the most helpful, because in truth, if I say that something is so (especially about myself or my actions), it is usually so (unless emotions are involved).  So if I say that I haven’t done as much work as I ought or could have, it probably is likely. This ability and curse cuts both ways – not only does it allow me to analyze my own status and position within a variety of hierarchies, but it also allows me to analyze other people’s positions and abilities as well. This is probably why bullsh*t doesn’t work the best with INTJs. Harness this ability/curse with the Type 5’s general fear of being inadequate, and you get a person who is constantly afraid that “they don’t have enough” to make it in the world. This feeling, with time and maturity, is sometimes honed to the point where one can (more or less) objectively evaluate the resources of the Self.

The other night, I found myself surrounded by a band of lively, enthusiastic, intellectual folks who were in serious pursuit of knowledge. I also became aware that (in this particular situation), I would possibly end up competing with a few of them for a potential job placement. Suddenly, as people began to name-drop and quote stuff and generally appear enthusiastic about classical education, I began to recognize that there were gaps in my knowledge, regardless of how well read or thoughtful I have been to date.

Now, sensible people would tell me that a person can’t know everything. At some point in time, one has to practically evaluate what is likely as opposed to what is possible (or desireable). In the end, limited ability, time, resources, energy, and interest lead to gaps. A person like myself may have to choose whether Latin and Greek are viable goals or whether to continue studying Japanese and Chinese, for example. Life is short, after all, and the time that is given to us must be husbanded in a wise manner.

That being said, I left the meeting excited, stimulated – and challenged. I wanted to read all of the books mentioned at the meeting (around ten of them). I wanted to brush up on old knowledge I used to be comfortable with. I wanted to prove myself to my peers (and potential bosses). I wanted to re-read my philosophy of education to ensure it was perfect. I wanted to go home and make lists in my bujo.

I wanted… I wanted… I wanted…

I was on a no-holds barred mission for self-improvement with the aim to get to a certain goal.

Under my own steam.

Something spoke up – one of the many clamouring voices in my head: “…lean not on your own understanding… He shall direct your path…”

I stopped. I paused. I thought about it.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart…

I stood in gently falling rain at the bus stop, waiting for the Number 2. I wrestled with this challenge. I recognized I had started to tread a familiar path – an old INTJ rut.

Lean not on your own understanding…

How often do I lean on my own understanding? How hard have I fought for independence from everything – sometimes even from God? How many times have I relied on my own intuitions and stratagems instead of going to God first?

…in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths…

I realized then that I had responded to a challenge and an opportunity from the footing of inadequacy and had responded from a position of can-do pride. Although there is nothing wrong with brushing up on literature or reading books or scheduling, the spirit of orderliness and self-control can often get hijacked by humanistic reasoning. At the end of the day, the job is in God’s hands. He’s the one who will get me the job – or not. I need to keep my end up in faith and humility and diligence, remembering that anxiety and worry when misplaced leads to self-motivated actions led by pride and fear.

Perhaps this isn’t just a Type 5w6 INTJ thing. Perhaps there are other people out there who struggle with this regardless of their personality type… but when it comes to this specific kind of person, I hope you remember what I forgot: that God is more than enough to compensate for your inevitable inadequacies. You will never step out into the world alone.

Be strong and courageous.
Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the LORD your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.
-Deuteronomy 31:6

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