Section Two: The Personal Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Four: Being Christ-Actualized.
Our reading for today: Matthew 11: 28-30 (MsgB)
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Over the last eleven blog sessions, we’ve looked deeper into nine unique personality types, using an ancient tool called The Enneagram. It’s been my personal experience that as I have become much more aware of the uniqueness of my personality type (The Helper – Enneagram #2), I’ve been able to bring the good/the bad/and the ugly of my personality to Jesus, allowing Him and His empowering work of grace to lift me from practicing the very worst traits of the Enneagram #2 to what some Enneagram teachers call the redemptive, or mature characteristics of The Helper.
While it’s true that many people outside the Christian faith use the Enneagram to help them grow in this life, maturing their personality in positive ways, I’m personally convinced that the Enneagram and its benefits are best utilized when it’s practiced in the context of a larger Christ-centered, biblically-based approach to mature discipleship. That’s why I like to call the redemptive lift found within the Enneagram being Christ-actualized.
As I see it, it’s Jesus who becomes the real teacher when working with the Enneagram, inviting us to come alongside Him, maturing and growing under His tutelage and care. My mentor, John Wimber, used to pray it this way…
“Lord, help me to grow up before I grow old!”
I hope and pray that the abbreviated material we’ve given you here over the last eleven blog sessions will assist you in that “growing up” in Christ we all want to see in this lifetime!
So as we close this second portion of our 36-week discipleship series we’re calling A Journey into Christian Discipleship, I invite you now to go a bit deeper with Jesus with the results of your Enneagram study. As I’ve worked through the Enneagram myself, and as I’ve helped many others along the way, I encourage you to do more personalized reading and study with some of the many excellent resources available.
I’ve found that it’s particularly helpful to grow in your understanding and application of the “wings” and the “arrows” associated with your Enneagram personality type. For example, for me, an Enneagram #2 (The Helper) with a strong #1 (The Reformer) wing and an even stronger #3 (The Achiever) wing, I know that when I’m under stress (or as St. Ignatius would call it, in a season of desolation), The Helper #2 tends to go with the “arrow” to the unredeemed, immature side of a #8 (The Challenger). It’s under these times of duress when I try to fix things through my own strength, and quite honestly I can become demanding, self-driven, project-oriented, and generally a self-consumed SOB! Believe me, folks, it’s not a pretty picture!
But now, here’s the great hope for a #2 guy like me.
With a much better awareness of the “arrows” associated with my personality type (see chart above), I know that when I’m under stress, I can actually choose to go to Christ first and foremost, learning to rest in Him (see today’s passage in Matthew), and He can then empower me to walk against my fleshy tendencies (going to the immature #8), encouraging me to choose instead the “arrow” of growth (or as Ignatius would call it, a choice of consolation), where a #2 Enneagram moves toward the highly creative, mature side of a #4 (The Individualist)!
As I’ve taken the time to study this pattern of choices (consolation vs desolation) as it has played out in my life, I can now point to times when I’ve truly failed to choose wisely, leaning on my strength alone; but, joyfully, I can also recall the victories when I’ve chosen to the contrary, allowing myself to find that highly creative, relaxed person I know Jesus wants me to be! I’ve not arrived, by any means, at this fully-redeemed, mature #2, but I am excited to see how I’m learning more and more to go to Jesus when I’m under stress, learning to lean on His grace alone, yet also finding that He is always encouraging me to take a pro-active stand against my fleshly, un-redeemed nature! Dallas Willard states it well when he reminds me that…
“Grace and effort are not opposed to each other.”
So my dear friends, may you go forth with these tools in hand, allowing Jesus to continue to teach you and guide you in the way of life Eugene Peterson, in The Message Bible, translates as “the unforced rhythms of grace.” Here, in closing, is a list of a few excellent resources that might help you along the way…
The Enneagram Institute https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/
My prayer: Jesus, I hear Your invitation to come sit with You. I ask that You’ll help me recover my life, showing me how to take a real rest. I choose this day to walk with You and work with You—watching how You do life. Teach me, Master the unforced rhythms of grace, and thank You that You won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on me. Finally, I believe that as I keep company with You, I will learn to live life freely and lightly. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what’s the next step for me in taking the uniqueness of my personality and allowing all of it to become Christ-actualized? What practical action-steps can I take today in living out Jesus’s unforced rhythms of grace?
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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