Over the last fourteen 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.
Change is when you take on something new, but transformation is when something old gets removed from your life while something new is being birthed…and you are not the one who is initiating it! Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
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. As I see it, transformation is the on-going work of the Enneagram. It’s not a static tool, but one, with Christ’s help, that can grow with us.
Allow me, as we close, to get a bit more personal with my story surrounding the Enneagram, and maybe by doing so, it might give you some creative ways to work with your Enneagram number.
You see, I, like everyone else on the planet has a wounded soul. Trauma causes wounded-ness, causing us to develop a “personality” to protect ourselves. For me, my personality (Enneagram #2 – The Helper) begins and ends in the Feeling Center of my brain. Like my other brothers and sisters in the HEART triad, every thing in life that I experience is viewed through the life lense of Feeling. Secondly, the primary enemies of my soul are Shame and Pride. So as a #2, I externalize (my coping strategy) that battle, hoping I can overcome my pain and wounded-ness through building deep, intimate relationships with others (Dependent life stance), becoming The Helper (my life response of Feeling/Doing) so all can say that they approve of me and that I am loved. So, in summary, Marty Boller, #2-The Helper, FEELS, and then I DO. Rarely, will I take the extra time and effort to include my Repressed Center (Thinking) in my day-to-day existence.
But, praise God, things are changing. Through my work with a spiritual director, choosing to slow down to better care for my soul, I’m finding that I can cooperate with all God wants to do in giving me a better self-awareness of who I am and giving me creative ways to become the Christ-activited #2 Helper Jesus sees me to be. One of the very best things you and I can do to contribute to the growth of our soul is to practice using our Repressed Center (the under-developed, under-used power center of our life). For me, as I slow down my reactions to life, taking more time in processing both my words and deeds, I’m learning to insert the simple question:
AM I THINKING TODAY?
For others, depending on your Repressed (under-used) Center, you might want to ask regularly the question, AM I FEELING TODAY? or AM I DOING TODAY?
So how about you?
Where has this brief look at the Enneagram taken you? Are you learning more about yourself and then bringing that self-awareness to Jesus in prayer?
As I’ve taken the time to study this pattern of choices 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 whole-hearted man 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, as we close this introduction to the Enneagram, 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 Jesus’ “unforced rhythms of grace.”
Here, in closing, is a list of a few excellent resources that might help you along the way…
The Enneagram Chart #1: Getting Started
The Enneagram Chart #2: The Triune Mind
The Enneagram Chart #3: Nine Unique Personalities
The Enneagram Chart #4: Putting It All Together
The Enneagram Chart #5: Jesus and the Enneagram
Want a more in-depth experience in the Enneagram?
One of the very best ways to explore the on-going applications is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with the Enneagram. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are trained in the Enneagram and are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile
The Road Back To You Study Guide (includes powerful SNAP followup points for each personality type) Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile
Life In The Trinity Ministry (Suzanne & Joe Stable)
A Free Enneagram Assessment Test (Ian Morgan Cron)
Spiritual Rhythms for the Enneagram: A Handbook for Harmony and Transformation, Adele & Doug Calhoun, Clare & Scott Loughrige
The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, Richard Rohr
The Essential Enneagram: The Definitive Personality Test. David Daniels & Virginia Price.
Understanding the Enneagram, Don Richard Riso & Russ Hudson
The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Richard Riso & Russ Hudson
Enneagram Transformations, Don Richard Riso
Self To Lose Self To Find: A Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types, Marilyn Vancil
The Enneagram Institute
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?
If you’ve been reading our Enneagram series, this concludes the 15-session blog. Click here to go back to our Enneagram homepage. Here you’ll find additional resources as you continue your pursuit of self-awareness using the Enneagram.
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!
Click here to go onto Section Three in our Journey into Christian Discipleship series…