Tom Pittman's WebLog

(or something like that)




2008 October 27 -- Thinker/Feeler Distinction

Over the last seven years, I have been slowly coming to the realization that the churches in America are run by and for the exclusive benefit of MBTI Feelers, which I am not. As a result of this growing awareness, I have numerous postings and essays dealing with the problem (some of them linked below).

From time to time I get responses to my postings. Two are most common, both from Feelers, sometimes both from the same person. Thinkers mostly do not respond, I suspect because my web site is openly Christian and Thinkers know they are not welcome among Christians. The one exception came from an anonymous student at a Christian college who did not want to be identified. I can't say I blame him. Some people also assume incorrectly that Feelers have emotions and Thinkers are smart. That's just ignorance of what the distinction is all about.

One Feeler response is to treat my reference to Feelers as derisive. That would be inaccurate. God did not make me a Feeler. God also did not make me a musician nor an athlete. Those are noble things to do; I'm just no good at them. Just because I'm not one does not mean I look down on them. However, the economic and political culture we live in, and the very nature of Feeler values, makes the label "Feeler" seem disaffirming to Feelers, as explained in my study of the differences. Feelers tend to discover disaffirmation, even when none is intended.

The other common response is to deny the Thinker-Feeler distinction, perhaps claiming it's a gray scale with people somewhere in the middle, or else to claim to be "objectively tested" as Thinker while demonstrating the values of a Feeler. Since these values determine the outcome of decisions where Truth and Justice are in conflict with Relationships and affirmation, it's pretty hard to be somewhere in the middle. Either your decision favors Truth, or it preserves Relationship. If there is a middle ground, then the value is not being exercised.

October is Clergy Appreciation Month. At the chuch I attend they decided to show their appreciation for the pastor's services by cancelling one of the services and replacing with a potluck. If that makes sense to you, you are smarter than I am, but this is the same church that cancelled church on Christmas day. Whatever. Anyway, they wanted this to be a surprise, which is pretty hard when the pastor considers himself responsible for running the church. I overheard one of the leading church ladies tell somebody "I lied a lot." She didn't seem very remorseful. Why? The surprise was deemed to be affirmational, and her values made that more important to her than telling the truth. Even in church.

That same evening I was rather less resourceful at concealing the surprise from the associate pastor. I think that is because perpetrating a surprise is by nature a form of deception, and I value truth. I wasn't trying to mess up their surprise, and I later went to him to apologize for my gaffe. His response was rather astonishing: without actually saying something untrue, he clearly tried to deceive me into thinking I had failed to spoil the surprise for him. This is a pastor! He is highly respected for his intellect. Yet here in a church context, his value system supported affirmation over truth. I didn't need affirmation -- at least not that kind. I screwed up, and I was apologizing. Forgiveness would have been sufficient, but most people do not understand Biblical forgiveness. So we get affirmation instead. The Feeler value, pure and simple.

Did you ever notice that in the Original Sin, Adam chose a Feeler value (relationship with Eve) over a Thinker value (the truth of the Commandment not to eat)? Eve was deceived [1Tim.2:14] but Adam chose.

Links:

The arguments (For and) Against Relationshipism
Relationships, concluding that people mean "affirmation" by that word
Faith Is Doing (Religion), Not Relationship
God of Truth, a draft of what might eventually become a book
Men Are from Mars, a list of specific Thinker/Feeler differences
The bottom of my home page, a challenge to do something about it
Getting Men into the Church through Apologetics, what one church is doing about it
Thinker/Feeler Distinction (October 27 blog post, you are here)
Complete Blog Index
Itty Bitty Computers home page