So, if you have been around me at all in the past year or so you have probably heard me reference the Enneagram. The Enneagram is an alternative personality model that I believe is better than Myers Briggs or the random Facebook pop-up quizzes. Granted, its not hard to be better than those quizzes, but the Enneagram is great nonetheless.
Where Myers Briggs feels too rigid or cold, the Enneagram feels free and welcoming. There is just one caveat…
The Myers Briggs will not tell you your dark side or encourage you to confront it. The Enneagram will show you your strength as it exposes your weaknesses.
The history of the Enneagram is that is has ancient roots back to the early desert mothers and fathers of the church. It has since survived as a result of being passed down from one spiritual director to another and has even been utilized by other world religions.
The basic premise is that your blessing is connected to your blight. Your strength is your weakness, the only difference is whether you are operating out of your health or unhealth in that season of your life.
There are 9 basic types and are commonly referred to as an arbitrary number: 1s are the reformers, 2s are the helpers, 3s are the achievers, 4s are the romantics, 5s are the investigators, 6s are the loyalists, 7s are the enthusiasts, 8s are the challengers and 9s are the peacekeepers.
As a skeptic at first, I was intrigued by its long history in helping spiritual direction, but when I read my personality type, it was as if I was reading my own biography. More than that, it not only perfectly named what I have experienced are my own strengths but it also nailed my weaknesses with methodical precision.
When I have shared this Enneagram with others, I have seen people actively shut down and turn silent as a result of reading their type. In that moment, one person said to me, “reading that got real, real fast.”
Most of us know our strengths, it is another thing to see our negative side laid out so well. Perhaps that is why the Enneagram has such a long history of being a help to people who want to get to know themselves and work on themselves. Not only that, but if you wanted to go one step further and into the spiritual side of things, it can be marvelous to see how God has shaped our personalities and offers grace to us even through our foibles and struggles. I am a firm believer that at a certain point in life, our successes or victories cannot teach us any more about ourselves. At that moment, in order to better know ourselves and God we must dive into our failures and mistakes.
Back in the day, there was a discussion among pastors over whether or not God works in glorious ways or not. It was a furious debate. In the end, a distinction was made, does one have a theology of glory or a theology of the cross? Or, in other words, does God work through shiny things or rusty things? Does God work through strength or weakness? Does God work through wisdom or seemingly folly? Through the rich of the world or the refuse of the world?
The Enneagram shows us that God perhaps is most intimately close in our shortcomings, and that a theology of the cross is the best news possible. Go check out the Enneagram. Read about each of the types until you find the one that reads like an autobiography from the most self-aware version of yourself. If you want some good books on the Enneagram, check out The Road Back to You by Cron and Stabile or The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr. Then, once you have checked them out, get back to me and lets have a conversation…
I don’t know how to finish this in any other way than to quote someone smarter than me… Here is fantastic quote from the Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine…