Section Two: The Personal Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Four: Being Christ-Actualized.
Our reading for today: Psalm 139: 13-16 (MsgB)
Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You. The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
The truth of the matter is this.
God, our loving Creator, already knows us from the inside…out. As Psalm 139 states, God knows exactly how we were made, has watched us grow from conception to birth to old age, and without any help from the Enneagram, knows our unique personality, and how and why it is what it is.
But here’s the wonder of it all.
While God knows us from top to bottom, you and I rarely take the time in this life to get to know ourselves as well as God knows us. So as I see it, the Enneagram is a simple tool, which when used in the context of a biblically-sound discipleship program such as the one we are working through here, can aid us in that unique work to know ourselves just as God knows us…our true selves!
So today, let me give you just a bit more detail about how the Enneagram works and what you can look for over the next few blog sessions as I highlight for you the nine different personality types. First, let’s refresh your memory on what the Enneagram is:
The Enneagram is a psycho/spiritual inventory tool that provides insight into the dynamics within us that influence how we live, relate to others and do our work. Some would say “it explains why things aren’t going so well for us.” ‘Ennea’ means ‘nine’. ‘Gram’ simply means ‘written out.’ The concepts of the Enneagram actually date back to the 3rd and 4th centuries. Originally based from the seven deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth), the Enneagram adds two more deadly sins (deceit and fear) to bring the personality type options up to nine. Keep in mind that the Enneagram is not exclusively Christian; but is a very productive personality evaluation tool used in many major religious traditions.
As you will see in our next nine blogs, the Enneagram broadens out the definitions of our personalities, going beyond our struggles with sin, identifying unique traits to the nine different personality types. Let me begin here today, with a very brief overview of the nine personality types, and the basic qualities attached to each personality. I will give them to you as they are grouped with the three triads we discussed earlier, The Gut Triad (#8, #9, #1), The Heart Triad (#2, #3, #4), and The Head Triad (#5, #6, #7).
(Click here to review this info we shared in earlier blogs)
THE GUT TRIAD: knowing-driven, anger-based, decisions from the gut, power-focused, running at others.
THE CHALLENGER (Enneagram #8): #8’s are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. They feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. They typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self- mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring. Key struggle: lust/vengeance/justice.
THE PEACEMAKER (Enneagram #9): #9’s are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts. Key struggle: sloth/idleness/self-deprecation.
THE REFORMER (Enneagram #1): #1’s are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic. Key struggle: anger/resentment/perfection.
THE HEART TRIAD: feeling-driven, shame-based, decisions from the heart, people-focused, moving toward others.
THE HELPER (Enneagram #2): #2’s are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others. Key struggle: pride/flattery/poor view of self.
THE ACHIEVER (Enneagram #3): #3’s are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others. Key struggle: deceit/vanity/competitiveness.
THE INDIVIDUALIST (Enneagram #4): #4’s are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences. Key struggle: envy/melancholy/authenticity.
THE HEAD TRIAD: thinking-driven, fear-based, decisions from the head, provision-focused, moving away from others.
THE INVESTIGATOR (Enneagram #5): #5’s are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way. Key struggle: greed/withdrawal/knowledge.
THE LOYALIST (Enneagram #6): #6’s are committed, security-oriented type. They are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others. Key struggle: fear/cowardice/security.
THE ENTHUSIAST (Enneagram #7): #7’s are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied. Key struggle: gluttony/scheming/idealism.
Did you recognize yourself in these brief descriptions? As I mentioned last time, I’ve discovered that I’m a strong #2…The Helper. And after more study and prayer on this, I now can appreciate the unique gifts that God gives to an Enneagram #2, but I also understand the great personal challenges that are evident for a person like myself who is a strong Enneagram #2, with a moderate #3 wing, and a lesser-weighted #1 wing.
You see, according to the Enneagram, each personality type is one that struggles with one of three basic core issues of self. For Enneagram Types #8, #9, and #1 (The Gut Triad), there is a deep struggle with Anger which drives a wedge between them and others. Thus on bad days, and when stressed to the max, the #8’s, #9’s, and #1’s tend to run at people, attempting to relieve their anger by controlling people and situations. For Enneagram Types #2, #3, and #4 (The Heart Triad), there is a deep struggle with Shame, leaving them, at their worst moments, to manipulate relationships with others, striving for love and appreciation in all the wrong places. Finally, Enneagram Types #5, #6, and #7 (The Head Triad) are driven by Fear, and tend to keep their distance from people and problems they can’t understand.
Over the next nine blog sessions, I’m going to give you a more complete overview of each of the nine Enneagram personalities, and with the help of the Spirit, you hopefully will walk away with not only a better understanding of yourself, but also a clearer path on which you can cooperate with God as He helps you grow and mature in your unique personality, allowing your true self to become more evident to both yourself and others!
Join us next time as we begin our work, first within the Gut Triad, beginning with the Enneagram #8, The Challenger.
My prayer: Father God, without a doubt, You know me better than anyone else…even better than I know myself! And as my Creator, you know things about me that I might not fully understand, or much less appreciate, but praise Your name, You desire for me to stop, look, and listen for Your wisdom and insight in all these things. Spirit, come search me and then lead me to my truest self. For Your glory and for Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: As I’m finding out more about the Enneagram, is it becoming clearer on the unique personality type God has made me to be? Can I allow the Spirit to move me past my emotions of anger, shame, or fear, so that I might become all Christ has for me, shaped and purposed for His glory?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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