You may remember me ranting about a psychological evaluation I had to undergo a few weeks ago, as part of my journey to become an ordained Presbyterian minister. I still think the pre-meeting questions were insanely long and inquisition-like, but the actual meeting with the psychologist turned out to be fairly pleasant. And I just got the results back yesterday.
It’s humbling to admit it, but he’s pretty accurate. And painfully, brutally honest at times. It’s like one of those magnification mirrors with built-in lights. The kind that show you more of your face than you really wanted (but perhaps needed?) to see. For whatever it’s worth, and in the time-honored spirit of the narcissistic blog confessional, here’s the report in it’s entirety:
Mr. Locke has good writing skills and an ability to describe people and their interests three-dimensionally. His self-description reflects the range of his interests but does not convey his inner motivations and struggles. He seems to have a tendency to intellectualize and, although he is a person of many passions, may keep his emotional life at arm’s length.
Mr. Locke submitted one reference. Three references were requested. His reference has been his pastor and supervisor, Philip Lotspeich. Strengths noted include intelligence, a desire to grow, friendliness and organization. Rev. Lotspeich suggests that the context of the applicant’s ministry may be the single greatest factor in his success in ministry. Mr. Locke seeks to have a ministry focused in social justice. His prophetic style of ministry would need the appropriate context to be effective. Growth areas noted include pastoral care, and a tendency to be defensive at times.
The applicant approached the task of setting up his evaluation and seeing it through to completion with a professional, assertive style. He was open and talkative in the interview. He came across as self-confident, bordering on cocky. He was invested in the dialogue, somewhat verbose, and eager to discuss his concerns for ministry.
Mr. Locke responded to a number of the items with sarcasm. He noted that some of his friends think of him as cocky, argumentative and arrogant. His self-perception appears to be that of an intelligent, unorthodox, altruistic, non-materialistic individual. He is aware that his values may differ from others and he seems to find some delight in his distinctiveness. Psychologically, his need to be distinctive and advocate for the marginalized may be his way to individuate. Hopefully, this tendency to oppose norms and be an advocate for the oppressed will be used judiciously. If not, he could be perceived as oppositional and alienate others.
Mr. Locke responded to the items of the MMPI-2 in a manner that resulted in a valid inventory. Persons with similar responses use intellectualization as a defense against anxiety. They tend to do at least reasonably well academically. They may have a need to integrate their intellectual and emotional perspectives. They may be somewhat emotionally dependent and lack self-assertiveness in intimate relationships. They are driven by needs for approval and require a great deal of reassurance in their intimate relations.
These individuals tend to be quite comfortable with themselves and ordinarily do not report psychological problems or distress. Active, energetic, and easily bored, they describe themselves as self-confident and easy-going. They often have a history of caregivers who were constantly motivating them to succeed and achieve. They often have resentments of having been controlled and pushed.
The many data sources taken together suggest that Mr. Locke has a strong need for approval. Alignment with a cause may be an avenue to find approval (at least from those who have similar passions). It may be helpful to examine his motivations carefully. Might he be motivated by internalized caregiver expectations? Or do his passions reflect an individualized interest?
Mr. Locke brings energy, activity and self-confidence to ministry. He is strongly extraverted and makes a good first impression. His ego strength suggests good adaptability to life’s demands. He has relatively high abstract interests (an asset for seminary) and need for autonomy. His high need for autonomy could have an impact on his willingness to take or function well in a subordinate position. Currently, he is experiencing low levels of anxiety and emotional distress.
- Mr. Locke presents with sufficient strengths of personality and character to function well in ministry. He reports little emotional distress or anxiety. Thus, there appear to be no psychological hindrances at this time.
- Mr. Locke has a passion for a ministry of social justice with the poor and marginalized. He enjoys arguing for his beliefs and attempting to persuade others. He brings the talents and energy to make a difference. However, he may also need to learn to work with people with a broad range of interests, especially interests different than his own. He may need to learn to show the same compassion he feels for the marginalized to all persons. Continuing to explore his motivations and the possible impact of his childhood relationship with his mother would be helpful. Clinical pastoral education would be a desirable training experience allowing him to explore his own thoughts and feelings as well as learning how to express care to a broad audience.
Tomorrow I go before my Presbytery’s Committee on Preparation for Ministry for our first interview. They’ll have a copy of this report sitting in front of them. Wish me luck!