By: Jess Dahl
For those of you who have somehow avoided the Enneagram buzz, it is a personality tool that addresses the motivations for why you do what you do. It allows you to identify with one of nine numbers, each representing a different internal motivation or need. It focuses less on the outward behaviors you perform and more on your inner drives. If you are familiar with Meyers- Briggs, which focuses on how you tend to behave, the Enneagram differs in that it helps show you why you do what you do.
While a helpful tool for the Christian to discover more about themselves, the Enneagram, like any personality tool, can be dangerous when misused or misapplied. Like anything outside of the word, work, and Spirit of God, it can be given the wrong seat at the table. The Enneagram must come alongside but never replace our identity in Christ. No matter how pegged you feel after reading your “type”, we must understand that God and his word have the ultimate say on our identity.
The Enneagram must lead us to growth and repentance or it is just another cheap party trick. Self-awareness can be harmful if we use it as an excuse to stay the same without actually doing any work to grow as a person. Awareness is just the first step. To stop at the awareness phase without moving into the heart change phase is like uncovering a gold mine but not doing the hard work to dig it out. Being made aware of the gold mine doesn’t mean it’s yours yet. You have to jump in the pit and get your hands dirty. We are all broken and the Enneagram shows you where your unique cracks are. As a Christian, it allows the Holy Spirit to shine into places we try to avoid. We get to jump in and watch him uncover depth in us as we become more like Christ.
The Enneagram lens shows you how you are trying to be your own God. Are you manipulating people or situations for love and recognition (Types 2-4)? Are you mentally keeping problems at bay by relying on your own wisdom and intellect (Types 5-7)? Are you taking on or disengaging from battles in your own strength and power (Types 8-1)? The Enneagram can be used as a tool to identify likely places we need to repent and be transformed. Here are some ideas for how each type can approach the Lord with a repentant heart.
Type 1 (Reformer): Repent of perfection on your own will and receive the perfection of Christ. Release the bitterness towards the people around you whom you feel have let you down. Release the anger and hopelessness you feel about not seeing the justice and redemption you hope to see in the world. Trust that God has already won and that he is using you in the here and now whether you see it or not. The goal of what you are doing is to get more of Jesus not earthly perfection.
Type 2 (Helper): Recognize that your need for love from others is actually your deep thirst for the all-satisfying love of God. Repent of the need for everyone to need you. Search your life for situations you are trying to be everyone’s savior instead of pointing them to the only Savior. Release the people around you from the crushing weight of needing to be needed. Ask God to help release you from people-pleasing. Repent of not having healthy boundaries with others and saying yes to every task and person. Remind your heart that only Jesus can carry everyone’s burdens.
Type 3 (Achiever): Repent of trying to be the best at everything. Repent of the need to earn your worth with a dazzling calendar and achievements. God cares more about your inner reality than an impressive resume. Sit before him in stillness, acknowledging that he has done the work to make you right with him. Any fruit in your life comes from his grace, not your efforts. Repent of trying to run according to the world’s standards and being impressive in the eyes of man. Rejoice in ways to go unseen this week. Repent of trying to earn the spotlight and your desire for attention.
Type 4 (Individualist): Repent of making your earthly identity your god. Repent of striving for worth in your unique outward identity. No earthly identity will ever fully define or satisfy you. Outside of your identity of God’s child, co-heir with Christ, saved by the cross, seen by a savior, no other identity will matter or last. Acknowledge that He sees you and understands you completely and that is enough. Release the people around you from the hurt and burden of needing to fill this void only He can fill.
Type 5 (Investigator): Repent of trying to be your own god in the area of intellect. God must be your safe place, even when you cannot fully comprehend him or the circumstances around you. Ask him to help you recieve His love and competence. Repent of believing that you don’t need community. You are part of the body of Christ, and community needs you as much as you need it. Repent of your self-reliance and fear of letting people in - freedom is found in vulnerability and inviting people into the places you are broken.
Type 6 (Loyalist): Repent of worry and pessimism. Remind your anxious heart that God is for your good. He can foresee what is ahead and meet you there. Your need to control what might happen only leads to more anxiety and more distance from those around you. Repent of your lack of trust in Jesus and his sovereignty and goodness over your life. Rejoice in the safety of His presence, protection, and provision. Allow Him to be your refuge, and let Him use you as a refuge for others.
Type 7 (Enthusiast): Repent of running to distraction instead of the presence of God. There is freedom to be found in taking time to sit in the difficult things and allow God to work in them. Thank God for being the redeemer and healer of brokenness, and ask him to show you how pain and brokenness is used for good. Repent of running to experiences, food, netflix, new ideas, or people to satisfy you instead of running to Jesus.
Type 8 (Challenger): Repent of your anger and the fear of being controlled by those around you. People aren’t always the worst and you aren’t always right. It’s one thing to stand up for the truth, and another thing to make someone feel small. Rejoice that you serve a God who defends, protects, and uses His strength mercifully. Ask God to reveal where you bulldoze, manipulate, or live with seething anger towards those around you. Beg Him to give you a heart that loves mercy and lives humbly. Study how Jesus lived a life of meekness, strength under control, and invited us to do the same.
Type 9 (Peacemaker): Repent of your passivity. Repent of conforming to the status quo and not risking more. God wants you to live into who he has created you to be, not to conform to what you think is expected of you. Repent of using avoidance as a coping mechanism. Begin to process the things God has placed on your heart and take a first step of obedience toward that thing. Repent of your belief that your voice is not important to God or to others.
God wants to meet us in both the positive and negative aspects of our personality. His Holy Spirit is faithful to do the work of heart change if we are faithful to dig in deep, show up and let him. Let us no longer use personality charts for self-indulgence and mental cul-de-sacs. Instead may we allow God to inspect our heart, cut us open where we are the most wounded, and allow us to heal properly. This is the true power of the Enneagram.
Further reading and resources:
*A test can point you in the right direction, but only you truly know where your heart runs in times of stress and health. While it isn’t free, the best test to take can be found here. The free tests are more likely to mistype you but if you want you can take it just to get a feel for what you’re dealing with here.