Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A Unique Treasure

Written by: on April 9, 2023

As I read the book and pursued other research on the personality topic, the most influential quote that summarizes the essence of our physical and mental state and how we are wired is Psalm 139:13-16 NLT.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

I’m sure some will think there is more symbolism than science in the Psalm – and that may be. But to me, how we are wired reflects the majesty and creativity of our God. Scientists, practitioners, coaches, and consultants have spent countless hours attempting to develop methods, assessments, research, and more to document personality characteristics. And we should explore avenues that provide greater self-awareness; however, as we learned, we are so complex and layered – will we ever really know?

Our uniqueness as humans is profound. According to several articles, there are between nine to eleven unique body parts that make us unique. One piece mentioned that Yahoo is exploring the possibility of using our ears as a biometric to open our smartphones. How fearlessly and wonderfully we are made.

One last mention of our God-given uniqueness is from a small, nondescript motivational book I read years ago. The author outlines our essence from God’s perspective – here is an excerpt (I’ve updated the actual numbers – the original numbers were from the 1970s). “Never in all 117 billion humans who have walked the planet since the beginning has there ever been anyone like you. Never until the end of time, will there be another such as you…With all the possible combinations at my command…there could be 420 billion variants possible – but who did I bring forth? You! One of a kind. Rarest of the rare. A priceless treasure, possessed of qualities in mind and speech and movement and appearance and actions as no other who has ever lived, lives, or shall live.”[1]

In his book, Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are, Daniel Nettle is on a mission to justify using personality descriptors to understand how and why people behave the way they do. Nettle builds on the work of Galton, Jung, and other theorists. However, he demonstrates that prior work only partly predicts behavior.[2] Believing that our personality is hardwired into our nervous system, he uses the science behind personality psychology to establish five dimensions of personality, extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness.

Nettle introduces us to the science behind personality studies, how they are measured, what they mean, predict, and why variations exist.[3] His research provides structure and scientific evidence that catapults personality characteristics into a legitimate discipline. Nettle writes that the time is right for personality psychology – he categorizes it as a renaissance – for the following reasons:

  • Set of personality concepts based on evidence – which psychologists can agree on
  • Neuroscience progress – specifically, brain imaging techniques
  • Genetics and genomics (predispositions relate to possible genetic variants)
  • Wider acceptance of evolutionary thinking in psychology

According to Nettle, life experiences, genetics, and evolution impact the five broad personality dimensions.[4] In his Ted Talk, Who Are You Really, Brian Little uses different terminology to discuss the influences on our personality. He asserts there are three natures: the biogenic nature, the neurophysiology of our lives; the sociogenic nature describes the cultural and social aspects; and the idiosyncratic nature, which is our genetic nature.[5] Aside from slightly different terminology, Little seems to differ from Nettle in the weight that should be given to the five personality dimensions. Little asserts that rather than ask a person their personality type; one should ask what core project they are working on. He reasons that it is what we do that makes us different. Also, depending on the core project, a person can utilize other personality characteristics to meet the project’s needs. He used himself as an example. Even though he is an introvert, he can become extroverted when teaching – he can be funny and friendly. His only caution is to act out of your primary personality type for a short time, or it becomes exhausting.[6]

I suspect there will be other personality assessments developed in the future. As leaders, we should know the latest developments to recommend to others on our team or in ministry partnerships. What resonates for me in terms of an assessment may be quite different from other team members. For example, I only recently learned about the Enneagram personality assessment, and I subsequently was able to take the assessment. After reviewing the results, I’m still not a fan – although many people love it.

What helped me to understand myself better and the environments I thrive in, how my personality is different from others, and more importantly, how to communicate with other personality types was a reasonably obscure personality assessment developed by the founder of Women’s Aglow and her husband. It was based on how God wired our personality—academically researched, not really – although they tested it on over a thousand people. Was there a web app – no – just the old-fashioned paper and pencil. To this day, the assessment still resonates with me, and the accuracy was outstanding. The assessment was such an AHA moment – it was when I realized God wired me the way I am, and I could accept certain characteristics about myself that others tried to convince me were unChristian-like. The other personality assessments on the market are excellent and extremely helpful – I only hope those assessments can lead others to accept the uniqueness of their very being.

[1] Og Mandino, The Greatest Miracle in the World (Hollywood: Bantam Publishing, 1977), 98.

[2] Daniel Nettle, Personality: What makes you the way you are (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 8.

[3] Ibid., 9.

[4] Ibid., 29.

[5] Brian Little, Ted2016 Who Are You Really (Vancover, BC) https://www.ted.com/talks/brian_little_who_are_you_really_the_puzzle_of_personality/transcript?language=en

[6] Ibid.

About the Author

Audrey Robinson

11 responses to “A Unique Treasure”

  1. mm David Beavis says:

    Hi Audrey,

    First off, Happy Easter! I hope you and your family got to enjoy the day together and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus!

    In regards to the shaping of our personality via life experiences, do you have an example from your own life you don’t mind sharing? For me, I am pretty far on the agreeable end of the agreeableness scale. I believe this is due to the influence of my mother who is highly agreeable. I believe I picked this up from her.

    • Audrey Robinson says:

      David, good question.
      Some of the most impactful life experiences for me occurred when the Word collided with a traumatic event or conflict I was experiencing.

      A recent family conflict with a sibling is a prime example. I have four siblings and I am the oldest. We had to have a conference call to discuss health issues/treatments for our Mother. The call did not go well. I was offended by a few things one of my siblings said. I knew I had to call her to discuss the issue and find a solution to move forward. I prayed and sought the counsel of the Holy Spirit. I’m a big proponent of leaving your gift at the altar if there is offense to make things right. I did call my sister and express what upset me but she also had feedback for me. It was humbling. I realized that even though I try to lead with good intentions, at times the delivery of the message can be detrimental and contribute to an offense. I had to change. One of the weaknesses of my personality type is suffering from foot-in-mouth type comments. So, now I try to be ever more mindful of my delivery.

  2. Audrey,

    Great post, I appreciated how much you glorified your creator in the beginning of your post. Sometimes I struggle with leadership books, as Paul says we are to imitate Christ (1st Cor 11:1. In Galatians 2:20-21 we are to be crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

    Have you found that many leaders focus on skills and practices of this world, rather than following Jesus and being transformed?

    • Audrey Robinson says:

      Greg, thank you for the question. The quote from Galatians is one of my favorites.

      Unfortunately, many Christian leaders focus on the skills and practices of this world rather than following Jesus. First, many Christians need more teaching to take Jesus out of the box. In other words, they lack the learning to apply Biblical principles to their daily lives (we touched on this last week with Miller’s Consuming Religion). Secondly, following Jesus often requires courage and going against worldly practices. This can often lead to being excluded from the in-group, possibly leading to fewer promotions/money.

      I remember, as a new manager in a new location run by entrenched ‘good ole boys’ being solicited to join them in going directly against the Director of the site in regards to purchasing Christmas gifts for the people on our teams. Due to budget constraints, the new black female Director had instructed her management team not to buy gifts. The good ole boys decided they would give the gifts anyway because they had always done that. So they purchased gifts for everyone (including my team). Because we were a remote office – the Director may have never discovered the purchase. But I felt it was wrong. I let her know what had happened, and of course, I was even more excluded from the good ole boy network at that point.

  3. Michael O'Neill says:

    Beautiful intro and honest perspective. I’m also not a fan of the Enneagram test. I’m glad I’m not the only one…

    You moved states within the last year or two, correct? Have you noticed a personality change from your most recent move and this new environment?

    • Audrey Robinson says:

      Michael, that is a very insightful question. I moved two years ago.

      My life experiences are entirely different due to the move: new teaching positions, new relationships, new state laws/government regulations, and a new church. I’m like a fish out of water. Not having the relationship capital to lean on, I must reinvest the time and effort to build new ones.

      These unique experiences uncover both vulnerabilities and strengths in my personality. In my reply to David, I mentioned one vulnerability: my sometimes foot-in-mouth comments. One strength being built is the courage to stand on complex issues (my NPO is an example). And, at times, the patience to not speak at all.

      I will ask my husband this question tonight. Although he did comment that I have changed due to the trip to South Africa.

      • Michael O'Neill says:

        Awesome answer. I struggle with the investment in others sometimes. I know it’s important but also so easy to just stay focused on the millions of things we all have to do. Im praying for your continued transition to be smooth and produce fruit.

        I was not the same after South Africa, too! It hit me hard coming home. It stinks coming back into the real world after being emersed by the Spirit. Its not often that we get to spend that much time without the normal distractions. Totally different than a vacation.

  4. Tonette Kellett says:


    These personality tests just don’t always tell the whole story, do they? I think it is a lot like standardized testing that we do in school … that doesn’t tell the whole story either.

    Your posts are very insightful. Thank you!

  5. Caleb Lu says:

    Audrey, thanks for your post and a wonderful reminder from Scripture in your introduction.

    Oddly, your note about the uniqueness of ears struck me. My partner’s Korean family has this superstition with ears. They believe you can tell what kind of life a person will have based off of what their ears look like. So one of the first questions they asked was what my ears looked like.

Leave a Reply