Education professor creates personality inventory based on scripture 

June 2, 2011

PLAINVIEW – Studying personalities has always fascinated Dr. Linda Hutcherson. As a longtime classroom teacher, then a school counselor, she says knowing the various personality types can be extremely beneficial, especially in school or work settings where a multitude of types are featured.

But when Hutcherson, who has been a professor of education at Wayland Baptist University for the past 10 years, went in search of a personality inventory that was based on the Bible, she came up short. Her solution? Create one of her own.

Hutcherson has been familiar with inventories that measure and categorize personalities for many years, first as a counselor at Canyon Junior High school and then as an education specialist with the Region 16 Education Service Center, where she trained districts and teachers on various programs, including the True Colors personality inventory.

In her role at Wayland, she uses the various inventories with her own students, many of whom are studying to be future teachers in public schools, in order to point out the variances in people and how it can play into teaching a classroom of students.

“The first thing we need to understand as teachers is the personalities of our students and their learning styles,” she said. “It helps us build a community of learners, and it also helps people accept one another and our differences.”

But when asked to do a workshop on this trend for a women’s retreat at her church, Harvest Christian Fellowship, she found that all the personality inventories were lacking in one specific area. While most of them boiled down to the four main personality types, none had any basis in scripture, and that was one area Hutcherson felt strongly about.

“I wanted us to be able to define ourselves through scripture, and accepting ourselves is important before we can accept others,” she said. “We can see ourselves perfectly through the eyes of Jesus. Once we do that, we can function so much better with each other.”

Hutcherson decided that the best course of action would be to develop an inventory of her own, using scripture that helped define personalities and strengths. She started with the passage in Isaiah 61, a prophecy about the coming Messiah, who describes him as one who has come to “proclaim freedom to the captives” and trade their mourning for gladness. Verse 3 has one specific passage that became central to Hutcherson’s research: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (NIV).”

That started Hutcherson on a research trail about oak trees, and she soon discovered that there are more than 300 varieties of oak trees, each suited for various uses. She also noted that the scientific name for the oak is “querkus,” which she likened to the term “quirky” and found no coincidence there.

Pulling from her years of experience with personality inventories, she used the oak family to define the four main types. The post oak, often used for fence posts because of its sturdiness, is the compassionate, people-oriented person whose motto is “Lean on me.” The red oak, whose motto is “Dance with me,” is the happy, fun-loving and laid back person. The live oak, the more visionary, creative and logical thinker, has the motto “Let’s think about it.” And the rock oak, the dependable and organized person, has the motto “You can count on me.”

Hutcherson said God gave her the scriptures and inspiration for how to set up the assessment, which she calls “Points of Beauty.” The end result is a deck of cards with ten traits – such as worship or prayer styles – each with four cards to define the four facets of the trait based on the personality type. Participants lay out the four cards in order of most like them to least like them, then they tabulate points for each number one and number two answer in each category on a scoring sheet Hutcherson created. At the bottom, point totals indicate the primary and secondary personality types the person has.

“All of us are going to have blended personalities, but one is always dominant,” she said. “We need each type of person to get things done or to sympathize with us or pray with us.”

Once participants have discovered their two dominant personality types, they can read about their strengths, weaknesses and areas of focus on larger cards that go back to scripture. The cards include the trait’s points of beauty – strengths like thoughtfulness or courage – and pit points – weaknesses such as people-pleasing, impulsiveness or arrogance – as well as fear and envy points and prayer points, including a scripture that is a good prayer for people with those tendencies.

Hutcherson said she didn’t really envision the finished product when she started the project but it just developed as she uncovered the material and began to organize it. Based on requests from that first workshop audience, she has professionally produced the card sets and handouts and is making them available to others who want to use the personality assessment as well, whether alone or in groups. The sets – which include five decks of the sorting cards, a set of the larger cards and disk with printable tallying sheets – sell for $45.

Hutcherson is also available to bring her inventory to retreat groups, churches, organizations, and other groups who feel they might benefit from some healthy introspection. She is hoping that above all, participants will gain self-acceptance through the process.

“So many people have issues with poor self image, and we all have to work with others,” she said. “We need acceptance to walk in our own unique ministry with one another. We need to look for the good in others that helps complete us.

“We really encourage people to walk in their points of beauty, not compare themselves to someone else, and be who God created them to be. We all wish we had more of other traits that we don’t have, but praise the Lord that he’s put you in places to learn how to walk in His spirit.”

Hutcherson can be reached at Wayland at (806) 291-1057 for more information.