The Spirituality of the ESFJ

The people I have know who are ESFJs are always involved in ministries of care and compassion.  Given their ability to lead a group well, they might be in charge of such ministries.

What are they like?

ESFJs are the people who send you the birthday card, every year, exactly two days before your big day, without fail.  Because they are externally focused feelers, they are intensely concerned with traditions and customs, and the celebrate them with gusto!

ESFJs are great at being in charge, and they manage people well.  More so than that, however, they are great at maintaining established processes – processes which have proved to be reliable and beneficial.  They do things right, and they do them at the right time.

They are big feelers, often “wearing their hearts on their sleeves.”  This tendency comes into conflict with their strong sense of right and wrong however.  They often find themselves put in between the rock and the hard place of wanting the right thing to be done and wanting to preserve the feelings of another (correlating to their skill and joy at being a part of established processes).  It is not uncommon for an ESFJ to exact swift “punishment” on someone, only to rescue them from their punishment out of concern for scarring the other person.

Where so they find value in their religious life?

Because they are such intense feelers, ESFJs gravitate towards the care taking aspects of religious life.  Phrases such as “the nurture and care of the children of God” resonates strongly with them.  They see the Church as the place where the worries of the world can and should be set aside in order to have a moment of peace and security in a chaotic world.  “Love one another” is the highest command.

What practices help them stay balanced and centered in God?

The strengths of the ESFJ center on their ability to care for others.  This usually manifests itself in acts of generosity.  Prayers of intercession and acts of service for others would be spiritual practices that would feed the ESFJ’s soul.

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

Much like the ISFJ, the ESFJ seems to have caring for others built into the very fabric of their very being. The challenge for them comes with the reality that such a large part of their personality is externally focused and feeling based.  If not balanced, this results in a sense of right and wrong that is not entirely “grounded” – by this I mean that the main filter through which they view the world is whether or not something feels comfortable.  As we know, many situations in life which are right do not feel comfortable.

The solution for this is practices which allow them to challenge and analyze the way things initially appear to them.  Journaling, coupled with the practice of The Examen are excellent individual practices.  Debriefing with another person who views things differently is an example of a corporate practice.

* * * * * * * * * *

Like other S’s, the ESFJ is predisposed to “establishment.”  They have a strong sense of what is good, and that sense is primarily manifest in how persons are cared for.

As I consider they ways I would employ an ESFJ’s natural gifts in the project of change, it occurs to me that if an ESFJ were to belive and understand that the prescribed change was a beneficial one, they would be a great ally in caring for those who are anxious or fearful of the coming transition.  They would know how to address the fears that people express.  They would be able to help strategize ways in which the needs and feelings of those who will be affected could be lessened or in some way accounted for.

In short, ESFJs could help a Change Agent honor the giant upon whos shoulders the change project is standing.

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