Bacteria, Brains, & The Holy Spirit

According to this article, the top three Myers Briggs types for clergy are ENFJ, ESFJ,  and ENFP.  Your pastor is least likely to be an ISTP or an ESTP.

Simplistically speaking, this means that pastors tend to be Feelers more thangut-bacteria-300x224 Thinkers.  We Presbyterians pride ourselves in requiring our clergy to be well-educated.  (Note:  we are the only denomination that still requires both Hebrew and Greek.)   And yet pastoral sensibilities imply having compassion (splagchnizomai – σπλαγχνίζομαι) which involves our guts.  You can look it up.

There has been a wealth of programming lately on the science of gut bacteria and one of my favorite stories recently (found here) connects our bowels and our brain.  In other words, there truly might be something to having “gut feelings.”

What’s in our gut (new favorite term: gut flora) could quite possibly impact MS, sinus issues, and weight loss. And – amazingly – it also seems to impact our ability to experience the Spirit of God.  Or at least that’s what I’ve determined intellectually  – as well as in my gut.

Maybe we should prescribe probiotic yogurt to our Pastor Search Committees.

If you’ve ever been on a Pastor Search Committee, you will know that it can be like dating.  In the first five minutes, it’s often clear if this relationship has a future.  At least, this has been my experience and the experience that others have shared.

I suppose it’s also possible to have a Pastor Search Committee full of Myers Briggs “Thinkers” who will look at the facts (correct number of years experience, educational credentials, etc.) and then determine The Right Pastor according to a clear list of requirements.  The problem with this way of selecting a pastor is that there is little room for The Holy Spirit to speak to us/allow our guts to inform us.  What I’m saying is that there seems to be a connection between The Spirit and our guts.

As my HH will quickly school you, this is a Biblical concept.  Jesus was moved in his guts.  That’s what it literally says here.  Awesome.

Yes, our bodies are temples.  Yes, we are what we eat.  And yes, there is a connection between food and God which is more than the holy experience of eating perfect dark chocolate.

7 responses to “Bacteria, Brains, & The Holy Spirit

  1. Somehow I have to figure out how to make what I write in the PIF move their guts, since what I’ve had for 10 years seems to leave their guts too unmoved to want an interview.


  2. As an ESTJ, I can attest that thinkers also trust their gut. Gut reactions are just one more source of data to consider as we make decisions. I don’t get all emotional about it, perhaps.
    But my experience of the call process was as you described.


  3. Good point Marci. Data!


  4. I echo Marci – as an ESTJ who is also very close to ENFJ – I get the thinking/feeling aspects – loved the article, too.


  5. This is a great post…but I have a correction. The ELCA requires both Greek and Hebrew for candidates earning an M.Div. There is another route to ordination (TEEM – Theological Education for Emerging Ministries) that does not, but the majority of candidates go through a traditional M.Div. program.


  6. Thanks for the correction Sheryl!


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