What is the Enneagram?
The Enneagram describes nine personality types yet is so much more than a personality test. The Enneagram shines a spotlight on the coping strategies we've put in place to hide the fragile parts of ourselves.
We all at specific points decide (consciously or subconsciously) that to survive, we need to relate to God, ourselves, and others in a certain way. So, we overemphasize one out of nine relational styles as a strategy to earn love apart from Christ rather than receive His love for free.
Each type has strengths and weaknesses that can flourish into blessings or collapse into a curse to ourselves and others.
If you haven't read anything on the Enneagram, I recommend starting with Ian Morgan Cron and Susanne Stabile's The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery.
What I don't like about the Enneagram
Overall, I love the Enneagram. It's helped me in my marriage, pastoring, and friendships in more ways than I can count.
However, I cringe when I hear people making blanket statements like, Well, she's a 9 (peacemaker), of course, she didn't want to tell the waiter her order was wrong. Or I'm a 3 (performer); so, you'll have to get used to my overworking.
To claim our number as a badge of honor — or shame — misses the entire point.
The Enneagram splashes cold water on our faces to wake us up from our sleepwalking so that we might mature into a more well-rounded person.
In overemphasizing one out of the nine personality styles as my style, we put on a mask. Over time, the mask fuses to our face, and we no longer see ourselves as anything other than the mask.
Our personality becomes our prison.
The Enneagram can help us break free if we're willing to do the hard but necessary soul work.
Whenever I teach the Enneagram, people squirm when I explain their number.
Such candid descriptions of our weaknesses, woundedness, and wickedness can both hurt and heal. Such exposure, being seen and known, is both what we long for and fear the most in life.
I think another reason we recoil at the explanation of our number is we know deep in our bones that it's true — that we self-sabotage our life in a grand effort to protect the more fragile parts of ourselves.
As Jesus told us so long ago, "Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it" (Luke 17:33).
Why you should consider the Enneagram
More than ever, people are stressed and stretched. The Enneagram can help you understand what the strain of 2020 is squeezing out of your personality.
If you feel stuck, perhaps it's time to learn (or learn more about) your number — to focus on personal growth in how you relate to God, yourself, and others.
Or maybe you need to hear that you are more than your number and it's time to stop overidentifying with your personality — to allow Jesus to help you grow into a more well-rounded person.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that we long for maturity in our leaders and others.
Before I demand growth in others, am I willing to mature in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16)?
The Enneagram is a tool to help us grow, but we must choose to take the brave, self-denying steps toward maturity.
What keeps you from taking steps toward maturity?
Do you want to take an Enneagram test, I recommend this one — relationalenneagram.com
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