Simon Peter: Portrait of an ENFP

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An ENFP is someone who is:

  • Extroverted: Gets energized by spending time around people.
  • INtuitive: Focuses on ideas and concepts as opposed to facts and processes.
  • Feeling: Prioritizes others and emotions over logic.
  • Perceiving: Prefers freedom and flexibility over structure and predictability.

The ENFP is incredibly inquisitive about people. They want to get to know others and understand what makes them behave the way they do. They want deep emotional connection, and they value authenticity. Others are drawn to the ENFP’s kind, nonjudgmental acceptance, feeling an emotional bond with them almost immediately.

They are incredibly adept at whatever interests them but tire quickly when they’re required to do the same mundane tasks every day. Boredom can lead them to change careers more frequently than their peers. They are drawn to novelty, driven by their inner values, possess a strong independent streak, and have a need for self-expression.

Peter the ENFP

Of all Jesus’ disciples, we have the most information about Peter. Not only was he a part of the Lord’s inner circle, but also, due to his enthusiasm, he was also at the center of many gospel stories.

While we can’t be certain about Peter’s personality type, we do have some hints that he was a classic ENFP. Here are a couple of examples:

1. The zealous and impulsive ENFP

Impulsiveness gets a bad rap. ENFP personalities excel at following their intuition and making snap decisions. Because they’ve developed the ability to read people and trust their gut, the ENFP responds to situations quickly.

Unfortunately, not taking the time to think things through can get them into trouble. And sometimes it’s not because their instincts are wrong, but because they end up in a situation they’re just not prepared for.

“‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’

‘Come,’ he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:28-31, New International Version)

Here we see Peter acting on the right inclination, but then he finds himself in over his head (pun intended).

2. “I just can’t contain myself”

ENFPs are conceptual and idealistic. They’re observant and curious. They think about the big picture and develop concepts into ideas.

ENFPs are energized by sharing their thoughts with the people around them, and this can lead them into sharing some pretty half-baked ideas.

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified” (Matthew 17:1-6, NIV).

Peter’s response to this unusual experience is a quintessential ENFP. It’s not that his idea of building shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah was bad per se. It’s just that it was impulsive and poorly considered. It’s almost funny that no one had time to respond to Peter’s comment, but it was such a strange response that Matthew still remembered it for posterity.

While the ENFP’s tendency to speak before thinking can lead to a lot of foot-in-mouth, this attribute also comes with its strengths. It’s Peter who has the presence of mind to stand up and say something in the second chapter of Acts. In the tumultuous situation surrounding the Spirit’s arrival and the crowd’s response to the chaos, Peter preaches to the crowd, and over 3,000 people choose to follow Jesus.

3. Easily overwhelmed and stressed out

One of the best things about the ENFP is that they’re in touch with their feelings. So much good comes out of their ability to respond in emotionally appropriate ways and build relationships based on their empathetic nature. But the effect of stress on top of their emotional nature can make them respond in irrational and unpredictable ways. A stressed-out ENFP can often find himself doing things that he would never do otherwise.

“And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’

But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said.

A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’

‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’

Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times’” (Luke 22:55-61, NIV).

While any personality type could find themselves in a situation where they’d respond like Peter did, the ENFP is extremely likely to do so even after saying they won’t. It can be hard for them to get their bearings in an overly stressful and demanding situation.

4. “I’m sorry I failed you”

Of all the personality types, ENFPs are most closely aligned with the feelings of others. Being the warmest, kindest and empathetic friends, they care passionately about how people think and feel. They tend to take their failures in stride-unless they feel they’ve hurt or betrayed someone. That failure will eat them up.

We see this in Peter the moment he realizes that he has indeed failed Jesus. He weeps bitterly (Lk. 22:62).

After Jesus’ death, the disciples return to what they know best-fishing. When the resurrected Jesus shows up anonymously after an evening of poor fishing and leads them to a large catch of fish, Peter’s the first to realize who it is. His response is so perfectly Peter and demonstrates the best thing about the ENFP.

He enthusiastically jumps overboard and swims out to Jesus.

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.-John 21:7

He doesn’t let his shame keep him from his Lord. Peter values reconciliation and relational restoration even more than his dignity.