As a certified administrator and interpreter of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I find a lot of insight in thinking about the different ways we have of seeing and interacting with the world, taking in information, and making decisions. When I work with an individual, group, or a couple who have taken the indicator, I always try to be clear that the MBTI simply measures a few scales by how a person answers the questions. It cannot tell someone how brilliant they are, how well adapted or not they are, or even how intelligent they are.
In explaining the scale of how a person makes decisions—thinking or feeling, both of which are rational functions, I often refer to a group exercise sometimes known as “lifeboat triage.” The group is told that they are the survivors of a shipwreck, riding in a lifeboat with some supplies. They are far more days away from land or rescue than they can possibly survive on those supplies if all are to share equally. On board the lifeboat, the members vary in age and ability. What is the group to do? Share equally until all die equally before hope of rescue? Or does the group make decisions on who shall survive? This is where the triage comes in. How does one decide who shall survive, or who shall die first?
This is not an easy exercise for anyone, but a “thinking” type who makes decision on an objective basis might, just might, be able to reach decisions more easily than a “feeling” type who makes decision on a subjective basis. They each have the same information but they will weigh it according to different criteria.
In case it seems to be simply an exercise for a group to explore, let me remind us it is not. Recently, I heard someone dealing with a tough decision about an employee who is not, and has not for a long time, performed up to the standard of the job, so much so that other colleagues have had to bear the brunt of the employee’s incompetence. On one hand, protecting against the squandering of resources is an important stewardship. On the other hand, the employee has a family for which to provide.
Justice may be blind as she weighs out the determining factors in the case, but how does mercy bear on the matter? This is not an easy decision to make. I say this as someone who tends to operate more by the mercy factor. I have tended to live with the uncomfortable consequences of a situation rather than force a “just” conclusion. I admit that at times matters become more complicated because of this tendency. Sometimes, I have wished that I could just not care about how a decision would affect another person so I could just make it and be done with it, but that is not how I am made.
How do justice and mercy work together? How can they walk together? I do know that it is important for them to remain hand in hand. Justice without mercy is cold and hard. Mercy without justice can be slippery without resolution. For now, I do not have the answers. All I know is to pray for wisdom, and for forgiveness.
You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?