The Spirituality of the ISFJ

The ISFJ is the most caring person you know.  Finding out that this person is a Deacon (minister of care and compassion) is not a shock in any way, shape, or form.

What are they like?

ISFJs are the servants of the world, and they are that way not necessarily out of obligation, but because they “need to be needed.”  The feeling of being valuable for what they can offer contributes greatly to the sense of self-worth of the ISFJ.  Because ISFJs are loyal and can be counted on to deliver high quality work, they often find themselves loaded down with many responsibilities.  They are often taken for granted and occasionally taken advantage of.  Their tendency to find themselves in situations where they are overburdened often results in ISFJs succumbing to a rash of psychosomatic illnesses (physical disorders caused or notably influenced by emotional factors).

Much like the ISTJ, the ISFJ has a strong sense of what they believe to be “proper,” a set of ideal qualities or characteristics that an object, event, or person must exhibit.  This, coupled with a highly developed sense of loyalty (to people, not institutions), results in that friends we might have whom we assume to be sulking, but is (in fact) troubled by something very distressing and reticent to bother us with it.

Where do they find value in their religious life?

ISFJs can be found in all communities of faith in the roles that require and encourage service. ISFJs can be found in the nursery, kitchen, or serving as a member of the congregational care team.

They are loyal to the Church because they understand it to be a place of care and compassion.  The institutional form matters little to them as long as there is a strong sense of “family.”  The chances of finding an ISFJ in a larger church would likely be rare because their opportunities to be “needed” would be fewer.

What practices help them stay balanced and centered in God?

ISFJs are subject to two interconnected realities that take a toll on their well-being: they are often overworked (taken for granted and taken advantage of) and they posses strong feeling of inadequacy.  The resulting combination finds an ISFJ more prone to psychosomatic illness than the rest of us.

Literally, for the health and wellbeing of the ISFJ, this personality type must embrace the practice of discernment.  This involves knowing the difference between the temporal and eternal, being able to identify the manipulative actions of others, drawing clear boundaries based on a predetermined set of values.  These discernment practices will be aided by some form of contemplative practice which allow they to know their value before God and to observe the fleeting nature of reality.

What practices push them to go beyond themselves and sacrifice for others?

No one should ever be worried about an ISFJ sacrificing for others – it’s built into the fabric of their self-understanding.  What is imperative for the ISFJ to learn, however, is the value of the perspectives of others’ worldviews.  Due to their highly developed internal sense of what is proper and good, the ISFJ can cut themselves off from other to such a degree that they begin living in such a way as to constantly reinforce their own senses of safety and certainty.

Like the ISTJ, effective practices involve praying the Psalms (allowing the variety of expressions to become normative) and constant exposure to differing worldviews.

* * * * * * * * * *

As I was researching the ISFJ it occurred to me that I know several people of this personality type.  While not one to push for change, per se, an ISFJ can be a Change Agent’s rock if they have the fortune of knowing one.

The reality is that the work of changing cultures is hard, and cannot be done alone.  If someone were to find an ISFJ who understands the necessity for a particular project of change, they can be counted on to assist the Agent in the work.  Most likely, the ISFJ can be that confidant we all long for.  However, special care must be made to not TAKE ADVANTAGE of the ISFJ!

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