In alphabetical order, these are the books and websites I value most when it comes to personal self-awareness. Obviously our closest friends are some of our best resources, too.
- Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. Manning calls us to fully embrace our identity as God’s beloved and to recognize the imposter within. This book has been life-giving to me multiple times.
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. I’ve blogged about this book/concept here. Where were we before he alerted us to this gaping hole in our spiritual formation?
- The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner. Anything Benner writes is profound. This one is on my reading list.
- Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland. This is a book about spiritual formation, but Mulholland integrates an understanding of the MBTI in it.
- Living Your Strengths by Albert Winseman, Donald Clifton, and Curt Liesveld. I’ve also blogged about this book here. If you’re familiar with the Buckingham and Clifton StrengthsFinder, this puts a biblical twist on it. Includes a code to take the assessment online.
- Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. He has identified nine “pathways” that Christians have found are the ways they connect with God the best. I plan to blog through this book at some point.
- Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster. Foster’s book is less about understanding one’s self and more about understanding the modes of faith we come from. He speaks about the contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social-justice, evangelical and incarnational traditions as the six great traditions of the faith. A thick book that reminds me I don’t have the monopoly on faith.
- 16 Personalities Test. This is a free online test based on the longer MBTI (Myers-Briggs). You get your results and can look up a definition of your personality type.
- Spiritual Gifts Survey by Lifeway. This is free as a PDF. I plan to blog about the main biblical passages on gifts soon.
- The Absent-Minded Christian. Blog post from Biola University. Being self-aware and conscious of God’s presence each moment go hand in hand.
Carson Pue, in his book Mentoring Leaders, lists three reasons why we lack self-awareness. I’m giving them my own explanations and adding a fourth.
- Lack of feedback. We either intentionally or unintentionally cordon ourselves off from honest, caring voices. Intentionally because we are insecure or stuck in sin, or unintentionally because we are busy or ignorant of the need.
- Insecurity. Insecurity stems from failure and fear. We all know how it is infinitely easier to recall a harsh word spoken to us than praise. We have all beaten ourselves up over mistakes and regret. Insecurity can be either an undercurrent in us that we’re unaware of or a vicious, loud monster that prohibits us from acting courageously. In the end, we fear looking in the mirror because we’ll hate what we might see.
- Busyness. I recently heard a pastor say that he changed his schedule from working as many hours as it took to cover his responsibilities to covering only the responsibilities he had hours for. Excellent advice. Busyness becomes a badge of bravery in today’s society. We compare our work hours and commitments with others and look down on those who attempt balance. But busyness is the enemy of self-awareness in that we end up repeating the same patterns of behavior without the benefit of course correction.
I would add a fourth: cynicism. If we’ve been in leadership for any length of time, we’ve heard the spiel, the call for another self-assessment, another leadership 360, another sad story of a person who fell from leadership because they neglected self-awareness. If we’re not careful, we become cynical, thinking that since we “did that,” we’re already self-aware, as if we’ve not changed in the last decade. We can have all the feedback in the world and still ignore self-awareness.
- Which of the four do you let stop you from self-awareness?
- What types of feedback or assessment have you found most helpful in learning more about who you are?
- What can you do to prevent cynicism from creeping in so that you remain self-aware?