Skip to main content

Enneagram Intro

I have just begun to scratch the surface of the Enneagram theory, and I must put down some things I'm learning. This pertains primarily to how the Enneagram relates to spiritual transformation through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Enneagram differentiates people based on what drives them—doing things right (1), helping others (2), personal achievement (3), individuality/self-expression (4), observation/analysis (5), security through loyalty or questioning (6), seeking fun (7), maintaining control and freedom (8), and peacemaking/avoiding conflict (9). It further separates these nine types into the three ways we're most commonly disordered. We can be disordered in our thoughts, feelings, or instincts.

The feeling numbers—the 2's, 3's, and 4's—are most often tripped up by their feelings. The 2's overly feel for others. The 4's are imploding with their own feelings. And the 3's are clueless about their feelings. The 5's, 6's, and 7's are most often tripped up by their thoughts. The 5's over-analyze. The 7's are consumed with fun and visionary plans. And the 6's are anxious beyond reason. Lastly, the 8's, 9's, and 1's are disconnected with their bodies or gut instincts. The 8's often over-express with body language. The 1's over-control their bodies and so become rather uptight or rigid. And the 9's have entirely forgotten that they have bodies.

What I find fascinating is that Jesus commands us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength. He doesn't say, "Pick the one you're good at and don't worry about the others." This means that no one is off the hook. No one can cop out by saying, "But I just don't feel like it," or "It's too much to think about," or "I'm just not the type to get on my knees." God wants thoroughly incorporated humans worshiping and loving him with their whole selves.

What I also find fascinating is that this awkward disorder of the heart, mind, or instinct drives each Enneagram number to a particular coping mechanism. It is this coping mechanism that is often mistaken for a person's strength. It can be a strength, but not without some inner transformation.

Let me elaborate using the 5 because I am one. The 5's get overwhelmed by life, so we cope by withdrawing, gathering data, and analyzing. This is often mistaken for a strength. 5's analysis is not a strong-point when disconnected from the real world and a relationship with the Lord. It's actually a buffer between ourselves and the truth about ourselves. The truth being: we can't handle life, we don't know enough, and we don't love as God commands. When the 5's understand that we don't have to manage our lives because God has, that we don't have to know everything because God does, and that we are enough because Christ is, then the 5's analysis can turn into wisdom. It changes the 5's stance from this stingy, fearful withholding of ourselves to an open-handed giving.

The trick is seeing these coping mechanisms as stories we hide behind and not something we have to do. It's just too easy to justify my withdrawal by telling myself. "If I don't get out of here and analyze, I will run out of the energy to be good and fall apart!"

The coping mechanism in the other numbers might sound something like this: I was just trying to do things right (1). I was just trying to help (2). I was just trying to excel (3). I was just being real (4). I was just trying to figure out life (5). I was just planning ahead (6). I was just having fun (7). I was just trying to get the job done (8). I was just trying to keep the peace (9).

The ultimate story we tell ourselves is, "I was just doing the best I could," which is true. We are all doing the best we can. But it is not enough.

Our default modes of operation are unable to love God and others with all our hearts, minds, and strength. Our default modes of operation are sinful. It's not just that we sin. We ARE sinners. The way we do things is not God's way. We must be willing to admit this to ourselves and God in order to allow God's transformative power to work in us.

This means admitting that behind these stories we tell ourselves, we are actually relying on our own strength, feelings, and understanding instead of God's. We have in fact put ourselves at the center instead of God.

This is not simply a matter of learning how to think, feel, and move correctly. The mind, even if it's logically sound, cannot find God's will on its own. The emotions, though entirely in sync with other's hearts, don't automatically feel as God would feel. And our instincts may preserve our lives, but will never teach us how to surrender ourselves into God's hands.

All Enneagram types are God-made and good, but all are ill and must come under God's power in order to love God and others properly.

The spiritually-minded Enneagram literature, which I'm just beginning to delve into, explains how we can decode our coping mechanisms, and allow the Lord to work in us.

More to come . . .


MommaMina said…
VERY well analyzed miss 5!
I think you did me proud because well after all, I am a 3!

Popular posts from this blog

Baptism Testimony

I didn't used to want to be baptized. I was too stubborn. I was determined to be the upright, genuine Christian who wasn't baptized—something of a superior class, I suppose. All that physical symbolism was for the archaic layman or the really emotional sort or the person who's afraid baptism is necessary for salvation. It's not for me. It's not for the steady, reliable believer who's doesn't have a big conversion story. I was in preschool when I prayed the prayer. In 6th grade, I gained a deeper understanding of sin while bickering with my siblings in the backseat of the family van. When I was 16, I began a daily quiet time with the Lord. And now at 36, I'm hearing the Lord asking me to make my faith work. Make the rubber meet the road. Get out of "morbid introspection and into deeds," out of "anxious hesitation and into the storm of events" (Rohr & Ebert, 129-130). Stop retreating into my head to figure out God and salvation

Why the Enneagram Numbers Quarantine

Type 1: The Reformer     I quarantine because it's the right thing to do and everyone ought to be doing their part for society by following the same procedures. Type 2: The Helper     No, I'm not concerned about myself, but I quarantine for everyone else. I want to help my neighbors feel safe, and I would absolutely die if I found out I had passed on the virus to someone else. Type 3: The Performer    I quarantine because that's what's expected of me, right? Plus, think about how bad it would look if I didn't. Type 4: The Individualist     I would've loved to quarantine before all this started but now that everyone is doing it, I'm not so sure I want to follow along. I guess I'll quarantine but somehow find a way to still remain exceptional. Type 5: The Observer     I might quarantine. I might not. I probably will while researching the facts about this virus. When I know enough, I'll make a final decision. Type 6: The Guardian     I q

Wanting the Ends Without the Means

I want my children to learn to get along, But I don't want to hear them fight. I want them to feel their emotions and understand them, But I don't want them to slam doors or be sassy. I want them to be respectful to adults, But I don't want to be embarrassed when they say something totally inappropriate. I want them to choose to obey me, But I don't want to come up with consequences when they don't. I want them to fill their own time with play, But I don't want to clean up the mess when they put stickers on the walls or throw tomatoes over the neighbor's fence or carve into the walls or cut through the upholstery with scissors. I want them to be good. But I don't want to suffer through their becoming good. I want a rich and seasoned relationship with my husband, But I don't want to endure seasons of dryness or coldness or disinterestedness. I want to have friends who are different than me, But I don't want to hear their threatening opinions. I wa