Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

Issues That Inform our Values (Part 4)

Dr. Jim Osterhaus

Dr. Jim Osterhaus

We’ve been answering the question, Where do our competing values – all of those elements that make each of us so complex internally – come from? First, we looked at family, and the enormous influence our families of origin have had on our value development.  Let’s now look at additional elements.
Personality Issues. Each of us represents a complex of talents, abilities, propensities, relational traits, strategies of behavior, etc. Many different descriptors (with accompanying measurement tools of those descriptors) can be used in an attempt to nail down the specific elements that make each of us the unique individuals that we are. And each attempt will always be a partial representation of the complexity that is us. We have selected the Myers-Briggs as one instrument that measure particular elements of a person’s personality or temperament style.

  • My temperament. Every person’s mind works in a particular fashion, and that fashion differs from person to person. The Myers-Briggs gives us insight into how and why people understand and approach the world in such different ways. The first [E/I] describes how you are energized. The second [S/N] how you gather data and perceive the world. The third [T/F] how you make decisions. The fourth [J/P] how you orient to the world around you.

E                  Direction of Energy [Energizing]                         I

S                  Data Gathering (Perceiving) [Attending]           N

T                  Making Decisions (Judging) [Deciding]             F

J                  Orientation to the Outer World [Living]             P

Combining these letters we arrive at four temperaments, which also approximate the four Red Zone issues we will discuss below. Note that each of these temperaments involves distinct values that will be brought into play as people go about their lives.


NF (acceptance)
•    Powerful People motivators
•    Empathic
•    Aware of other’s feelings
•    Powerful persuaders
•    Authority in the person(s)

NT (competence)
•    Powerful conceptualizers
•    System planners
•    Competent and consistent
•    Firm minded and fair
•    Authority in being competent

SJ (control)
•    Powerful administrators
•    Precise
•    Take charge
•    Hold subordinates/system accountable-Don’t reward what’s expected
•    Authority is in organization/system

SP (survival)

•    Powerful problem solvers
•    Immediate/resourceful
•    Grounded/hands-on
•    Quick starters
•    Authority is in the moment


•    Mental gymnastics/game players
•    Can miss immediate
•    Complex and theoretical-cannot give a simple answer
•    Impersonal and aloof
•    They determine/define “competency”

•    Nit pickers
•    Rigid
•    Do the wrong thing
•    See the negative, not the positive
•    Upward accountability-“The boss or the system made me do it”

•    Can create problems when none to solve
•    Low interest beyond practical
•    Get bored easily
•    Low follow through
•    Vague definition of authority

My RZ issues. Building on what we have already seen, let’s look at the Red Zone (RZ). The Red Zone is the central issue in my life that is unresolved, highly energized, and seen by me as the subtext of any conflict when I sense it turning personal. Each of us has a RZ issue, and in some ways, these can be tied to the four temperaments listed about. When I delineate them, you’ll probably think that you have all of them. Indeed, you do. But you will default to one that predominates over the others.  The issues are as follows:

  • Survival (SP). “I must take care of myself. The world is full of peril, so I must enjoy the moment.” On the positive side, these people have traits of competence, self-reliance, and responsibility. They are powerful problem-solvers and very resourceful. On the negative side, these people lack the ability to trust others and tend to be wary and troubled in relationships. They have little interest in anything but what is of practical benefit. They become angry and panicky (Red Zone) whenever they feel their survival has been threatened. These people lack the ability to trust others and tend to be wary and troubled in relationships. They have little interest in anything but what is of practical benefit. They become angry and panicky (Red Zone) whenever they feel their survival has been threatened.
  • Acceptance (NF). “I will do anything to be loved and accepted by others. I am a people-pleaser.” One the positive side, these people have a heart for serving others and are very attentive to the needs and feelings of other people. On the negative side, these people can be overly compliant and self-effacing. They tend to be rescuers. They become angry and carry personal grudges (Red Zone) whenever they feel they have been rejected.
  • Control (SJ). “The world is a threatening place, and the only way I can feel safe is if I can control every situation and the people around me.” On the positive side, these people tend to be having strong leadership qualities. They are vigilant, highly organized, and have high expectations of themselves. On the negative side, these people often wall themselves off emotionally. They do not let others get too close to them. They can be overly controlling toward others – bossy, directive, demanding, rigid, and nit-picking. They impose perfectionist demands on others. They become anxious and angry (Red Zone) whenever anyone or anything threatens their control.
  • Competence (NT). “I am loved only on the basis of my performance. My performance is never good enough, so I never feel worthy of being loved.” On the positive side, these people tend to be high achievers. If you are a leader, you want these people on your team, because they will work hard to achieve a great performance. On the negative side, they are never satisfied with their achievements. They have a hard time receiving from other people. They impose perfectionist demands on themselves. They are defensive and easily angered (Red Zone) whenever they perceive that their competence has been questioned.

Hopefully you can begin to see the values that emerge from each of these:
•    Survival (SP): value spontaneity, realism, the present moment, doing, not thinking, variety.
•    Acceptance (NF): value relationship, harmony, identity, integrity, interaction.
•    Competence (NT): value high achievement, change, complexity, non-conformity, vision.
•    Control (SJ): value consistency, tradition, procedure, stability, duty, decisiveness.

These obviously come into conflict with each other and with other more important values that must be employed in the various situations life presents. Take for instance the value of spontaneity that Survival (SP) folks value a great deal. Spontaneity is great in certain contexts (when the sound system breaks down, and you have to ad lib the program without amplification), and a disaster in others (when you have to plan and execute the Fall outreach initiative).


One Response to “Issues That Inform our Values (Part 4)”

  1. I came across this website preparing for a leadership training session at my church. Although, I have no direct work experience, I have a master’s degree and have thoroughly fallen in love with the OD discipline, with change management and other related areas. The temperament illuminated above further confirm my passion AND my derailers (seeking perfection so I’m working on it-smile). I hope to get training on Myers Briggs in order to conduct training with the leadership/ministry at my church. Great info – very helpful and informative.

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