The Enneagram was introduced to me my senior year of college. A friend of mine handed me a thick textbook on the history and uses of the enneagram and after I found myself crying in a coffee shop about the childhood wounds and fears of a type 2, I was hooked. I am by no means an enneagram expert, and I would do you wrong by convincing you otherwise, but I have read over 1,000 pages, three books, and listened to about 50 podcasts from experts on the material. I have also embarked on my own personal journey using the enneagram as a mirror to myself, a tool to identity the ways I have wandered from the woman God originally intended me to be, and as a path to find my way back to God and his original design. As I share a little bit about my own journey with the enneagram, I see how skeptical people can be. The enneagram is explained through a symbol that combines a circle, equilateral triangle, and an irregular pentagram. The shape alone can deter Christians who might assume this is some kind of magical or dark symbol. The enneagram can also be blown off as just another online personality test that people can take too seriously and begin to build their lives and psyches around. But the enneagram has always had intentions to be much more than a way to feel understood or put yourself into a box that justifies your behaviors.
One thing I feel like Ive seen abused by people who are into the enneagram is they use it as a way to make all of their dysfunction cuter. They use it to justify behaviors and to devour information on themselves as opposed to use it as a means of transformation. They skip over the long history and information about the actual enneagram processes because they would rather just read the pages that have to do with their dominate numbers. This perverts the purpose of the enneagram and dwindles it down to any other personality test out there. The intent of the enneagram was always to be used as an agent of change. Because of that, I wanted to really embrace the journey of holding up the enneagram mirror to myself and do the contemplative work of praying through things and allowing the enneagram to be a bridge back to God (like devotionals, worship albums, or yoga classes). When I started my enneagram journey, I felt that I wanted to do it reverentely allowing the Holy Spirit to lead it. Because the enneagram is suppose to be embraced as a tool for transformation, many experts advise that you begin your journey when you are ready to confront the best and worst places of yourself with honesty and courage. From my own experience, I wholeheartedly agree. If you are just wanting a fun party trick to be able to type people and read a little bit about why you do what you do, what environments you thrive best in, and what your top strengths and weakness may be- there are far better fitting tests such as the Strengths Finders or Myers Briggs. Personality placements all have their lanes, but the enneagram is one to be taken a little more seriously and slowly.
The summer of 2014 I spent a summer in India + Owassa, Oklahoma. I usually refer to this summer as my “Abba’s Child” season. Through discomfort, solitude and silence the Lord began identifying ways that I had wandered away from my original essence by overcompensating for pain and rejection as well as wearing certain masks that kept me at an arms length from the world and keeping me dishonest with myself. Since then, the Lord has used tons of different frameworks to guide me into new levels of freedom and wholeness as I return back to the person He originally created me to believe.
We were never created to be anxious, insecure people stuck in a perpetual cycle of being hurt and hurting others. We were created in the image of God, with kingdom culture tattooed into our DNA and I am starting to think that the whole purpose of life is taking a journey with God in order to return all of creation back to his original design. All of creation was made to be free- clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We were made to bear each other grievances full of forgiveness in the light of our own salvation. Peace and gratitude should rule our hearts. The truth that is the Word of God is to dwell in us richly giving light to our mind, body, and spirits. We should be encouraging one another with all wisdom, singings psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude. These are the attributes that Paul uses in Colossians to describe how the people of God should look. When I examine my own life, however, there are wounds, fears, and sins that keep me from embodying these life-giving attributes. Whether it be from real wounds inflicted on us from other people or wounds as a side-effect from being born into an imperfect world- we all are trying to get back to this original essence of God created humanity.If you’re a millennial, I think you should be able to see this pursuit more than anyone. Without knowing the language for it, our generation is passionate about reformation, restoration, and transformation. We are involved in women’s marches, fighting for the rights of the oppressed, and seeking after what we believe will make the world a better, more free, place for us all to live in. Misguided or not, thats a God quality.God desires for us to come back to him in Eden. The enneagram is not the answer to perfecting creation but it is a tool to identify our blind spots and a road to walk us back to the cross where Jesus is in fact the answer.
There are a few different theories on how the enneagram came to modern attention, how it is to be used and some other debates centered around nature vs. nurture, whether one can change their types, etc. I just wanted to highlight a few things that I have either seen widely agreed upon by experts or things I have come to believe as truth through researching different enneagram theories along with scripture.
An Enneagram Overview
The enneagram’s shape has specific purpose as each intersecting line correlates to different information. There are beautiful parts about every single one of these personality types and each type of person contributes greatly to their sector of culture. Each number correlates to a different “type,” with no number being better than another. Each type is gender neutral and can be identifiable by both men and women. You also do not change types through out your life. Each person is born with their inherent set of traits that are unchanging through out their life. Through events and life changes of course we adapt, suppress and overcompensate making us appear as changed people. However, changed behavior does not change the essence of how God created us. That being said, you can find your dominate type by reading the descriptions of each type and identifying with the one you have been for most of your life. For me, I knew I was a 2 the second I read about the primary fears, needs, and childhood wounds of a type 2. I identified deeply with these statements, even if some of the outward expressions didn’t always correlate to my season. For example, I have always been primarily motivated by a desire to be loved. I cannot remember a day when love wasn’t my deepest desire. However, from season to season, how I manifested this desire and motivation changed. That being said, you will always identify with SOMETHING in each of these 9 numbers and you might not identify with every little aspect of your dominate number because we tend to fluctuate among healthy, average, and unhealthy traits within our type depending on the season of life we are in. If you are having some trouble identifying your dominate type, there are a few online resources that I have linked here &here. Again, this test isn’t going to fix you. Its just a tool.
Type Descriptions:(Please understand that this is SEVERELY overviewed)
*All descriptions were pulled directly from The Enneagram Institutewhich is linked here*
"Ones 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.
- Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective
- Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced
Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be
consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be
condemned by anyone.”
"Twos 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.
- Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
- Basic Desire: To feel loved
Key Motivations: Want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed
and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about
"Threes 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.
- Basic Fear: Of being worthless
- Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile
Key Motivations: Want to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves from others, to have
attention, to be admired, and to impress others.”
"Fours 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 fromordinary 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.
- Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance
- Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an identity)
Key Motivations: Want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and
surround themselves with beauty, to maintain certain moods and feelings, to
withdraw to protect their self-image, to take care of emotional needs before attending t
to anything else, to attract a "rescuer.””
"Fives 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.
- Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable
- Basic Desire: To be capable and competent
Key Motivations: Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have
everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the
"The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes 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
- Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance
- Basic Desire: To have security and support
Key Motivations: Want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude
and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to fight against anxiety
"Sevens 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.
- Basic Fear: Of being deprived and in pain
- Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content—to have their needs fulfilled
Key Motivations: Want to maintain their freedom and happiness, to avoid missing out
on worthwhile experiences, to keep themselves excited and occupied, to avoid and
"Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight
talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they
must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming
confrontational and intimidating. Eights 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.
- Basic Fear: Of being harmed or controlled by others
- Basic Desire: To protect themselves (to be in control of their own life and destiny)
Key Motivations: Want to be self-reliant, to prove their strength and resist weakness,
to be important in their world, to dominate the environment, and to stay in control of
"Nines 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.
- Basic Fear: Of loss and separation
- Basic Desire: To have inner stability "peace of mind”
Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and
tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them."
As you read through these, pay close attention to the basic fears, desires, and motivations. Which ones, if you’re being absolutely honest, hold up a big fat mirror and show you yourself? Which one makes you cringe and want to hide in embarrassment? Which one made you laugh out loud because SO RELATEABLE. Thats probably your dominant type, congratulations! There is so much more to learn about the enneagram besides just finding out your dominant number. There are wing numbers, triads, sub-types, levels of health, integrating and disintegrating. I will attach more links below in order for you to dig more into this if you feel like this is the next step in your journey with the Lord. If you do want to continue your enneagram journey a little farther than this blog post, I highly suggest you do your research before making truth statements about yourselves. I have seen too many people take a free test online and come out saying they’re a 9 wing 4 or a 3 wing 7, etc. The enneagram doesn’t work like that and in order to use it to its best abilities, you need to do a little more research to get accurate readings. Everyone’s enneagram journey is going to be so unique to them. I have just gained so much from using this as a tool along with scripture, christian community, the practice of confession and repentance, and other healthy christian resources. I will be sharing posts in the future giving some more vulnerable insight into how I have used the enneagram, what it has shown me about myself, and how I am moving forward towards the cross. Keep a look out if you want to read the chronicles of someone going through this process as honestly and courageously as possible!
Further Reading & Listening