Work in progress in Christ

As a Christian I am a work in progress. I don’t think that I will stop being a work in progress until eternity… probably. I am not where I want to be in life. I always find that whenever I feel that I am getting somewhere significant and have success in every aspect of life, something always happens that shows me that I am a work in progress. There is room for improvement… always.

Recognizing that I am a work in progress is a part of walking into a humble life. As a work in progress, I am not always aware of my status. Yet when I realize that there is room for improvement, that there are still areas of my life where the Holy Spirit needs to work, I understand that I need to pray for progress to be made at both the conscious and subconscious level.

I need to be honest as a work in progress. I know that there are areas of my life that the Holy Spirit needs to work at yet I am not ready to consciously change. Because I know from my education and my experience with spiritual behavior change that part of the behavior change is getting the predisposition to engage in the behavior that God wants of me.

As a work in progress, I am not always ready to admit the reality of my human condition. I have to pay attention to my internal conversation and be sensitive to when the conversation goes into a place where I am not prepared to go. I always recognize my resistance, yet I know and understand that I need to signal myself and pray to God that I get to a mental space where I can admit that about my human condition that I need to admit to then work on.

As a work in progress, I can never be satisfied with my current condition. Whenever I do, I become stagnant. Whenever I do, there is risk to fall away. Whenever I stop progressing, I hold back the fullness of my walk with God.

As a work in progress, I know that I will make mistakes. I can’t avoid it. It’s part of being human. As important as not making mistakes is, it is more important how I react to what happens and its results in my life. I am by no means an expert to walking in God as a work in progress. I am still learning how to do so.

Being a work in progress is not easy. That’s one of the reasons God gives us the Holy Spirit. It’s a loving guidance and behavior change coach that knows how to plan for short and long term progress. Our job as humans is to humbly recognize our condition and letting Him work freely. I don’t regret it. I am a better human because of it.

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How INTJs process having a prophetic word start getting fulfilled.

As an INTJ, I tend to use logic and intuition to process everything… and like my friend says: everything is everything (it sounds catchier in Spanish). In the Puerto Rico evangelical church culture, which comes from the US evangelical church culture because of our history, emotion and sensory experiences are the norm. Anything logical and abstract is looked down upon as worldly.

I as a Christian INTJ need to think things through to understand them. My Christian walk is no exception. When I have decided to live a reactive life towards something, God is the first one to reprimand me. He doesn’t want me to live a reactive life because it is in thinking things through is the way that God teaches me the biggest lessons that I have learned in life. I also make a lot of mistakes when I stick to just reacting to life.

When I have received words of knowledge/prophetic words in my earlier years as a Christian, it usually goes to my prophetic memory. I also tend to think that prophetic words are not for right now, like a 9th grader thinks about graduating high school. In recent years, I am getting the understanding that the word is not for later and that its fulfillment is close.

About a year and a half ago I was at a 12 hour fast retreat at my church that was done for the young adults of my church. I went there because I was asked to be the musician. I knew that the activity was catering to a group of 18-28 year olds who were more mystical in their brand of Christianity. I knew that I was going to feel too normal for the crowd and that the one who coordinated the whole thing was going to take the mystical side if any friction happened there. I had the expectation that the activity was going to be torture for me and that I wasn’t going to get anything out of it.

During the activity, 3 people preached to us. One in the morning, one mid-day, and one in the afternoon. All had the mystical brand of Christianity. After each sermon there was a ministry session. All three prayed for me at some point, but I only remember what 2 of them stated. I won’t go into many of the details of how I got prayed for, but I will say that the first preacher wasn’t around when the third preacher prayed for me and vice versa.

The first preacher stated, among other things: I gave you intelligence; not to be quiet but to speak and share what I gave you to the church/world. As soon as he ended this statement, my internal reaction was: you only said intelligence and didn’t include wisdom. I wanted God to include wisdom in the statement.

The third preacher stated, among other things: I gave you intelligence and wisdom; not to be quiet, but to speak and share what I gave you to the church/world. My first take away was that God listened to the desire of my heart and included wisdom.

None of these preachers know me intimately, so they don’t have as much context to state this. I knew that it wasn’t a coincidence that I was getting the same Word in 2 occasions by 2 people that weren’t around when the other made the statement.

Before the word was given, I knew in my mind I knew that I had to step out of the musician’s area and speak what I had to the church. I felt that preaching was in my future and I had enough content prepared to do so. Yet my standing with church leadership was such that I wasn’t in their radar of potential preachers. Part of it was my fault because of the reputation that I built for myself, part of it was that no one really wanted to work with me because they didn’t understand me. That’s one of the disadvantages of being an INTJ, I guess. There was a difference between what was in my mind of what I was called to do and where other people thought that I should be. What I realized with this word was that God showing that His thoughts were aligned with my thoughts about my future and the sermons that I was preparing.

That was end of 2015, start of 2016. Fast forward to 2018. In February I was called to be part of the Youth Group Committee in my church (the Committee isn’t something that God approves per say, but what it means is that I am publicly one step closer to having full Youth Group leadership). I have also been taken off of the preaching blacklist: I have given one sermon in the first Youth Group service of the year and one Bible study. Both have been given rave reviews by the church.

A week after the Bible study, a deacon with whom I don’t have relationship with stated, among other things: “I liked your Bible study. God has given you intelligence and wisdom. Keep it up.” I immediately recognize the wording in the phrase. My internal reaction was to not show anything regarding this realization.

After the service, another member in the church who I keep my distance because she is touchy feely and has no respect for personal space stated, among other things: “When I was hearing your Bible study I was going along for the ride seeing how I was sowing and reaping in my evangelism activity. God has given you intelligence and wisdom. Keep it up.” I immediately recognize what was going on… and had to tell myself to not react physically at that moment.

I as an INTJ have had the mentality that God can and will speak to me at any moment. He is also someone who will use any means to state things: His Word, a YouTube video, a blog, a sermon… anything. He also will spare no expense in letting me know the culture of His heart. I have learned to always be sensitive to Gods comments. So when I heard the comments, I knew what God was trying to tell me.

Two different people who weren’t around when the other spoke stated the same thing in their manner but using the same wording that God used when the 2 preachers gave their words. I knew what God was doing. He was letting me know: this Bible study is what the fulfillment of the word that I gave you in that retreat looks like… and this is only the beginning for you. It wasn’t a coincidence what happened: A prophetic word was given by two people, and the start of the fulfillment of this word was confirmed by 2 people. None knows about this. None know that they had a role to play in how God operated.

INTJ and useless information

Useless information is in the eye of the beholder. Information becomes useless not because the information itself is useless but because the consumer of information makes no attempt to incorporate the information in some aspect of his life.

I believe that all information can be useful at some point, so my take on learning is that no topic is off limits. I believe that what I learn can be just entertainment now but can be useful in the future. When I as an INTJ learn something I understand the risk of not being able to use the information in daily life. But I rather see the uncertainty as a glass half full instead of a glass half empty.

I as an INTJ don’t see information that has already entered my brain as completely useless, even though I seem to have no use for it. Yet I do judge a piece of information at first glance to determine whether it will be worth my time and energy. Information is determined to be useless before it enters my brain.

Illusions that INTJs want to keep

These are only reflective of my experience. They are in no particular order and they might be repetitive.

  1. That there is such a thing as exclusivity in relationships.
  2. That I am not a statistic.
  3. That I am immune to emotions.
  4. That rehearsing conversations really prepares me for real life situations.
  5. That having conversations that happened in real life in my head can change the reality of what happened or can make me feel better about my failures.
  6. That my sub conscious thought that most people are less smart than me won’t get me into trouble.
  7. That I don’t get really anxious around conflict.
  8. That my thoughts about myself and my success in life are based a solid sense of identity and not on my circumstance.
  9. That I know what I want for my life on Earth.
  10. That I can be in tough situations without being affected.
  11. That I feel more connected I feel to people in real life than how connected to people that I see on YouTube or TV.
  12. That I don’t deal with more insecurities about my abilities than I want to let on.
  13. That I am pretty normal.

Inappropriate things you want to do but can’t.

  1. Giving a very difficult name to write to a Starbucks employee just to see how he/she responds. (I have not done this, but I have commented it to Starbucks employee. I get the desired emotional reaction without any scolding)
  2. Giving curse words in another language as your name on the E.T. ride at Universal just to see if you can make E.T. curse. (Doesn’t work. Tried.)
  3. Do “Wax on! Wax off!” during an announcement of the washing of the feet ceremony at the local church.
  4. Photo or video bombing important pictures.
  5. Doing the piano distortion when the preacher says something funny (I have done this before… I usually get scolded by spiritual people who can’t handle humor.).
  6. Doing a comedic sketch in the middle of a sermon.
  7. Play a recording of a trumpet sound in the middle of a Christian service and disappear, especially those churches that believe in the pre-tribulation rapture.
  8. Put a snake or a spider inside the pulpit to scare the speaker when they look down into the pulpit.

How do INTJs like to be treated

  1. INTJs want to be treated without judgement of who we are
  2. INTJs want to be treated with respect for who we are and what we bring to any situation
  3. INTJs want you to stop annoying us with superficial crap
  4. INTJs want you to listen to our ideas without interruption
  5. INTJs want to be treated with patience, especially when it comes to social situations because we are still figuring it out
  6. INTJs want to be treated with mercy when the situation becomes too much for us
  7. INTJs want for others to not confuse sadness with being tired
  8. INTJs want to be treated as intellectuals
  9. INTJs wants you to take our correction and our suggestion as us genuinely wanting to make the world to be better

INTJ and my thoughts on loyalty.

This is only my experience and thoughts in this area. It is not meant to represent all INTJs. I don’t know them all.

I can’t say that I crave being loyal to someone or something. I haven’t thought about it enough to be certain about that statement. I can say that I am not opposed to showing loyalty to someone, something, or an organization. This loyalty is not given, though. It is earned.

If I think about where has my loyalty been focused on, it is not put in people necessarily. I am willing to be loyal to whoever has a certain set of morals and beliefs. I am willing to be loyal to whoever has the same goals that I have. I am willing to be loyal to those that have earned my respect.

My loyalty is expressed by my being present around those who I am loyal to. My loyalty is shown by my desire to back them up in whatever cause they have… even if it does cause some inconvenience or discomfort. My loyalty is shown when I take their side in whatever conflict that arises.

I am not loyal to someone because they have a position. I am not loyal to someone because I am told that I need to be loyal to someone. As an INTJ, I would be the first to question my motives for loyalty and would stop being loyal to someone or something if I find that these are the reasons for loyalty.

I am loyal to something when it is aligned with my beliefs. I am loyal to something that offers the space for me to develop and grow as a person. I am loyal to something that shows potential for improvement from my efforts. I don’t want to waste energy, time, and effort on being loyal to something that I then find out that it ain’t worth it.

I do want to be considered as someone worthy of other’s loyalty at some point. I think that it would be the biggest privilege because it means that I can be a positive influence in their lives. Yet I know that it is the biggest responsibility that I can have as a person: that God puts in my hands a certain aspect of someone else’s development. I don’t want someone else’s loyalty if it’s not founded on a solid base. I want for other people’s loyalty to be based on an informed decision. I shouldn’t expect other people’s loyalty if I am in a position of leadership if I am not loyal to something… to someone.

At the same time, if I am a leader I should be loyal to those that I develop. It may or may not look like Coulson of Marvel Agents of Shield or Gibbs from NCIS, but I haven’t dedicated enough time to this to say it with 100% certainty.

Stepping up as a leader.

Stepping up as a leader is something that I do when everybody else sucks and I can do a good job. I don’t do it often, because either the already established leader is doing a good job or I just don’t care enough to take charge.

Stepping up as a leader means recognizing that the action is necessary for the betterment of the group and environment. It also means recognizing what I need to be in the moment. Stepping up as a leader is a response that is based on an assessment of the environment and the people and the impulse of stepping in to ensure that something is done well. It is as logical as it is a gut instinct in me that is in play.

Stepping up as a leader means that you become responsible for the direction that the group takes and the results that are obtained from that moment. At the moment that I step up, I know that I am responsible for everyone’s wellbeing and production in that context.

Stepping up as a leader is a risk. I am putting myself out there to be judged for how I perform. I am risking failure. I know that I can make crucial mistakes that are to the detriment of the group.

Stepping up as a leader is not for everyone. It takes a certain set of traits to become a leader. It also depends on what your standing with a group is. Even in the book Machiavelli the author stated that you can’t be a good king if no one follows you. If I know no one will follow me, then I know that there is no point in stepping up as a leader because it will be a waste of everyone’s time.

Stepping up as a leader is a formative experience for the person that is doing this. If done with humility, then this action can form the leader mentality and character over time and practice.

The effect that “Whose Line is it Anyway?” had on me.

The show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” has a soft spot in my heart because of the influence that it had on my development.

As any typical INTJ, I wasn’t in a very good social standing in all of my social environments (home, school, church) during my adolescence. I was so different from everyone else and just didn’t have the social skills to have a good social standing. Because of this I had to deal with a lot of rejection.

As an adolescent, I wanted to be noticed for something outside of my parents and 4 other siblings. My thought process was that I would be able to do this by showing that I am smarter than everyone else. So my paradigm from 15-16 years of age was “I want to make them think”. What that really meant was “I want to say things that are so awesome that people have to shut up and acknowledge that my brain is awesome”. Selfish and douche-bag like, I know.

In the summer of 2007, when I was going from 11th to 12th grade of high school, I was watching TV and found a re-run of the show. My curiosity was sparked and payed more attention to what whose line actually was. During that day two things happened:

  1. As I saw what the improvers did and the response that it garnered from the audience and myself and I got the desire to adopt improv comedy as a part of how I deal with social situations.
  2. My social paradigm changed. It changed from “I want to make people think” to “I want to make people laugh”. Really what I wanted was to use what I did to control people’s reactions. Yet I knew that this was an upgrade to my previous paradigm.

What I did afterwards was typical INTJ: I dedicated hundreds of hours to study what they did, how they do it, and try to find how I can translate those principles in social situations. I especially focused on what Colin Mochrie did, because I saw that he always found ways to make the other cast members laugh in a very witty and sometimes out of the box ways. I identified with him more when I saw in an interview that he stated that he was shy as a kid.

This journey has taken more than a decade. Along the way, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. I learned to work with the way I speak to make sure people know that I am being sarcastic and funny. I learned how to time what I say within the context of a conversation to make a joke or say a funny comment. I learned to take calculated risks to get a laugh. I learned that the knowledge that you have can and should be used in the form of a joke. I learned that comedy is a marathon, not a sprint. I learned when to take the attention for yourself and when to be a second fiddle to someone else. I learned how powerful laughter is to encourage a connection to be made with someone else. I learned how useful making jokes is to break the ice, but it is not the end game of social situations.

The journey to incorporate comedy and improv into my daily life has been one of training my brain to tackle social situations as an improv comedy show: taking whatever the other person gives you and run with it to make anything funny. Because I as an INTJ suck at improvisation, being able to train my brain for improv at a formative age really helped improve my social skills.

Now I watch recent Whose Line clips from YouTube and I am nostalgic and thankful for what being exposed to improv comedy did for my development.

How does an INTJ show that they are a friend.

I’ll be very honest. I try to keep myself free of having a lot of friends. I do this because I am not always willing to do what I expect for a friend to do. Yes. I admit it. I am selfish. In a way having friends is an inconvenience… but I know that I as a friend am an inconvenience. So I know that at times I need to force myself to be a good friend. So with that I know that the first indicator that I am being a friend is if I force myself to do things that are inconvenient at the time.

The second thing is that if I see that a friend is telling me something because he needs to let something that they are feeling out, I do everything I can to listen attentively. I turn this switch in my brain where I temporarily shut up my brain to take in the information that he gives. I say temporarily because doing this takes away a lot of energy for an INTJ and after we do this we feel physically and mentally tired.

The third thing is that I make time for our friends. We are willing to plan things with our friends and seek them out. I at least value planning my own things. So if I am willing and able to make time for someone else, then that person is quite privileged.

The fourth thing is that I have expectations based on what I am willing to do back. I limit my expectations on people because I know that people suck. So to minimize the amount of deception that I feel, I limit the amount of expectation on the human race. I do make some exceptions though. So if I expect something of another person, it means that I consider that person part of my inner circle.

The fifth thing is that I am willing to help them become the best version of themselves that they can be. The way I do that is be helping them do things and sharing with them what I think they can/need to do to be better over time.

The sixth thing is that I open myself up to them. I force myself to show the sides of myself that are typically hidden from everyone else. This is key because I have learned to keep a mask on at all times. Showing who I am and what I stand for means taking risks and expending energy in flexing the emotional muscles that I do my best to not use.

The seventh thing is that I pray for you. No one will really see this, but I have noticed that I as an INTJ show that I am a friend if I pray for them.