What’s the Enneagram Anyway?
Perhaps you’ve heard about the Enneagram for awhile now, but you assumed it’s just another personality test. You may have used those tests in determining if you’re an introvert or extrovert, or what career path might best suit your skill set. While those tests are fun, and useful in helping us pinpoint our particular preferences and tendencies, they usually stop there. They don’t get to the root of our Core Motivations, and they certainly don’t help us grow in our relationship with God and others.
However, the Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram) works differently. It reveals not only what we do, but why we do it. From the Greek words for nine (ennea) and gram (diagram), the Enneagram is a nine-pointed symbol. Each point represents a basic personality Type and a specific pattern of thinking. We study the Enneagram to learn why each Type thinks, feels and acts in specific ways and what that looks like when they’re in a healthy mental state or if they’re struggling.
What’s Your Type?
Let’s imagine you’re wearing a pair of glasses with a green lens. The person to your left has a blue lens, and the person to your right has a red lens. You’re all asked to look out the window and describe what you see. You’d see the same trees, buildings or birds, but you’d see them in a different color. That’s how the nine Enneagram Personality Types work.
“WE’RE ALL EXPERIENCING THE SAME WORLD BUT WITH DIFFERENT LENSES OR PERSPECTIVES.”
There are four factors that affect the color of the lens through which you view the world: your Core Fear, Core Desire, Core Weakness and Core Longing.
We’re protective of our Core Fear but we pursue our Core Desire — the preferred reality we believe will alleviate our Core Fear. These drive and motivate our actions, thoughts and feelings. We use our personality’s strategies to protect ourselves from our Core Fear. For example, our strategy may be perfectionism, helping, achieving, creating, thinking, preparing, planning, protecting or withdrawing.
The Core Weakness is also called the Passion or Deadly Sin. It often trips us up, but as God’s grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10). The Core Longing is the message each of our hearts longs to hear. We must surrender ourselves to Christ and depend on him solely to transform our hearts to be more like his.
The Enneagram names and addresses the core dynamics of your heart. It invites you on a path of discovering and growing. By learning the nine different colored lenses, you discover your Core Fear, Core Desire and Core Weakness. As a bonus, you’ll also grow in compassion in all your relationships: with yourself, your friends and family, and co-workers.
A Christ-Centered Approach
Identifying your Enneagram type is your exciting first step to uncovering the power of the Enneagram as a tool for becoming your best self. But in order to experience real transformation and freedom, we must look at the world through the lens of the Gospel.
Without Christ, we respond to our awareness of our weaknesses and strategies with shame or contempt. However, the gospel says we’re free in Christ, forgiven and received as righteous, adopted and loved, and filled by His spirit with the power to become like Christ. When you bring the insight of our sinful strategies through the Enneagram and pair it with the truth of God’s word and work of His spirit, we experience transformed lives through the renewing of our minds.
When we focus on obeying externally, we fall short every time. But if we allow ourselves to rest in the finished work Christ accomplished on our behalf, then we can look at our inner world without shame, condemnation and fear. Real transformation begins when we own our shortcomings and ask for forgiveness and help from the Holy Spirit.
Start Your Transformation Journey
As a speaker, teacher, and coach for the last 15 years, I’ve seen first-hand the power of the Enneagram time and again. When explored through the lens of the Gospel, it helps men and women become unstuck and grow in the fullness of Christ. When you discover and learn your Enneagram type, you’ll see yourself in a completely new light. It’ll be surprising, exciting, embarrassing, funny and ultimately empowering, as you understand yourself and others more deeply.