Dr. John F. Shackelford. Knowing Yourself Knowing God: From an Ego-Run-Life to a God-Run-Life. 2015. See here to buy the book.
John F. Shackelford is a licensed psychologist. He has a degree from the Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University.
As the title of the book suggests, Knowing Yourself Knowing God is about how people can know themselves and God better.
The part of the book about knowing oneself discusses different parts
of the ego, the false self, and various personality types. Freud, Jung,
Myers-Briggs, and the Enneagram feature in this section of the book.
Shackelford talks about the challenges that different personality types
can have in relationships. He also includes links to online tests that
one can take to learn about one’s personality type, and he shares
personal anecdotes and anecdotes about others.
The part of the book about knowing God is largely about taking a breather, resting, and being receptive to God’s voice.
The third section of the books has stories about people who have come
to know God. They chronicle their journeys and describe their approach
to knowing God and hearing God’s voice. Occasionally, they say where
they are on the Enneagram and how that affects their spiritual life.
The book ends with a chart about ego functions. It draws from Freud,
and it describes the ego functions and how people can constructively
respond to them.
Overall, this is a very informative book. There is a scholarly
element to it, and the stories add a personal element. The book
sensitized me to how early experiences in life can stifle one’s
creativity, if one allows that to happen. In short, what parents or
adults say to their kids can have long-term effects, down the road.
The book also talked about being open about one’s anger and concerns,
and the problems that can come from internalizing anger. This is a
struggle for me. I can easily put people on the defensive when I
express my concerns, so I often end up not saying anything. Finding a
way to express my concerns constructively is a challenge. Overall,
though, I find that refraining from complaining and not rocking the boat
is a fairly workable policy.
Identifying my own personality type was somewhat difficult for me.
Obviously, I fit into the “introvert” category, but am I an INTJ, an
INTP, an ISTP, or an ISFP? I do like abstract ideas, but part of me
likes to be concrete. I think that I both perceive and judge. I am not
entirely cold and methodical, as some introvert-types are characterized
as being (i.e., you’re not efficient, so you’re fired). Maybe I can
take the tests, but, even there, I may have problems definitively
putting myself into a single category. Consulting others about how they
see me may be helpful, provided I am not overly sensitive about their
The book could have been better organized, and the various parts
could have been better integrated with each other. The part about
knowing oneself and the part about knowing God are largely independent
of each other, though occasionally there are bridges: Shackelford talks
about how knowing God through meditation on Scripture and listening to
God can enlarge one’s soul; how listening to God can temper one’s
listening to one’s ego; and how one can respond, as a Christian, to
one’s Enneagram. Largely, though, the book shied away from talking
about how the various personality types can honor God, within their own
personalities. The book could also be rather meandering.
There was one line in the book that I especially did not like, but I
am not surprised to find it in a Christian book. On page 115,
Shackelford is telling his own story, and he is contrasting the
“drivenness and worry” that he felt with the relaxation and hospitality
that he observed in his wife’s friends. He says: “I realized the life I
was living would not be a very attractive life to non-Christians.”
Here we go: Christians have to be an advertisement for Christianity to
non-Christians! We have to put on a show for the outside world! Heaven
forbid that people think Christians have flaws, since then they would
not be attracted to Christianity! I am not suggesting that Shackelford
goes that far, but the evangelical idea that Christians need to
advertise Christianity to non-Christians just seems to me to go against
the authenticity and honesty that Shackelford is promoting, and which he
exemplifies as he shares his story and his struggles.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through Bookcrash, in exchange for an honest review.