• alyssa conlee

thinking vs feeling in the pursuit of christ

When you make a decision, do you depend on impersonal facts/logic or personal concerns/people?

There is no right or wrong answer to this simple question (though many try to say that one way is better) and your honest answer can reveal more about your personality than you might expect.

Thinking or Feeling?

In the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) world, these functions—thinking and feeling, respectively—make up one of the four letters used to categorize your personality. Just to clarify: all people are designed to both think and feel. This typology system is concerned with your natural tendency to lean one way or another.

The basics of MBTI

Back to the initial question. It probably won’t surprise you that those who depend on logic are Thinkers, and those who care more about how they themselves or others are affected are Feelers. Still aren’t sure if you’re a Thinker or a Feeler? Each function has its general strengths and weaknesses that you may relate to:

  • Thinkers tend to be rational and effective

  • Feelers are often empathetic and passionate

  • Thinkers can come across as cold and impersonal

  • Feelers may care too much and become ineffective

Bonus tip: an easy way to guess which function someone leans toward is to listen to how they express an idea: which do they say more often, “I think that..” or “I feel like…”?

I am a Feeler by nature. (Though I’d say my feeling/thinking ratio is about 60/40.) I appreciate logic and often utilize it, but my decisions ultimately come down to my gut. What do I feel is the right thing to do?

This got me thinking (funny, I sure do think a lot for a Feeler)— how do these parts of personality affect how believers follow Christ? I’ve decided to speculate on how I feel these functions may translate into strengths and weaknesses in our Spiritual lives.

Thinkers and the Truth

There is an abundance of logic in the Bible. Theology—the study of God—demands for logic to be its foundation. Those who base their views of God on their own ideals twist God’s very essence into something it’s not. This is actually a terrifying reality that we can see popping up in churches all around. I know you’ve seen it: someone in the church (probably a Feeler) says something along the lines of, “If God was good He wouldn’t…!” or, “Why do we still follow those ancient rules? It just doesn’t seem like it matters anymore!”. Without the swift intervention of truth, it’s this vernacular that turns churches into heretical, feel-good, houses of self-improvement.

Thinkers are vital in keeping the Church’s beliefs aligned with Scripture. I am slightly ashamed to admit that I, on more than one occasion, have begun to believe false interpretations of doctrine simply because it felt good in my flesh. I am grateful for all of the solid Thinkers in my life who have pointed me back in the right direction when I’ve allowed my emotions to lead me astray.

Another spiritual strength that Thinkers seem to have is faithful obedience. You see, once a Thinker has determined that something is true, they can often use logic to convince themselves to do the right thing. Solid logic tends to be much more stable than emotions, so naturally, Thinkers may have more of a slow and steady, steadfast approach to Christianity. Praise God for the Thinkers.

Feelers and Passion

Logic is not the only form of persuasion used in Scripture. Parables and poetry are also used heavily throughout God’s word. These “word pictures” evoke emotions from the reader, and are especially effective on Feelers. Feelers often need a tug on their heart strings in order to act. As I mentioned before, Feelers are usually empathetic and passionate people. A Church without Feelers would be a static body of people, rarely loving others with a zealous love. When Feelers are moved by an emotional situation or cause, they will feel the need to respond. They are the movers and shakers of a congregation.

Feelers make decisions based on how people will be affected. Sometimes, the right thing to do goes against logic and numbers. God calls us to uncomfortable situations that may not seem logical to the human brain, because His purposes are bigger than we can comprehend. Feelers are more likely to make decisions that are humanitarian in nature, just because it feels like the right thing to do.

Now, in our flesh, what feels like the right thing to do is often self-serving. However, a common characteristic I’ve seen in Christian Feelers is the fierce dependence on the Holy Spirit’s voice. Instead of looking to what feels best for ourselves, the focus is on others. This can be such an amazing thing! It is from His prompting that we get our zeal, our desire to create change: whether in an individual or an organization. I believe this sensitivity to His voice comes from our understanding of our own emotions and of course intimate knowledge of who He is. Personally, I know when He is calling me to act because I am aware of what my own feelings feel like. His direction just… feels different.

My Greatest Struggle

My greatest struggle as a Feeler seeking Christ is wrestling with the reality that I don’t always feel Him. When He is vocal with me, there is an intimacy present that I take for granted... until He chooses to be silent. Talk about a faith-stretcher. I am prone to extreme discouragement and apathy when I don’t feel Him near.

Thankfully, He has equipped me with the ability to cling to Truth, even though thinking is not my primary function. He uses these times of silence to remind me that I need to depend on Him because He is good… not because He makes me feel good.

Using Both for His Glory

God has designed each and every one of His people in a unique way. Though we all have our weaknesses, He uses them to accentuate His strength and perfection. Both our thinking and feeling processes can be used to draw us nearer to the Creator and point others to Him along the way. Let’s learn, as a Body, how to support one another in our weaknesses so that we can collectively serve Him more effectively! 

I’d love to hear from you all… are you a Feeler? If so, do you relate to my struggle? Or are you a Thinker? If that’s the case, I am very interested to hear about how this can become a struggle for you. 

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© 2019 by Alyssa Conlee