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The Enneagram: A Tool For Developing Healthy Self-Awareness

Sherri Harder

Sherri Harder

Pastor, Des Moines Vineyard
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Churches tend to be as healthy as their leaders. We’ve know that for quite a while. Continually growing in self-awareness is crucial to discerning our calling, leading a church, and even just following Jesus. “No one has known God who has not known himself,” said the religious scholar Meister Eckhardt. The Enneagram is another tool to help you do that. My experience is that it can enhance awareness, health, hope, and wholeness.

The Enneagram is made up of nine types, each representing a unique way of viewing, processing, and interacting with reality. It’s a way to observe with wonder, why we do the things we do, think the things we think, and feel the way we do. By looking at a list of key characteristics and motivations for each type, most people are able to identify themselves as one of the types, listed as numbers.

Your type is not a box you are trapped in, but a way to interact with your own uniqueness.

Your type is not a box you are trapped in, but a way to interact with your own uniqueness. It’s a way to see how God created you in Christ’s image and to see a way forward towards further health. Colossians 1:27 says, “To them, God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The Enneagram not only reveals your personality type, but also highlights the pitfalls of your type and how to navigate around them. That is what makes the enneagram different than other tools. It helps you see the things that keep you from fruitfulness and the paths that can bring you to healing.

I am an 8 on the Enneagram, known as the challenger. Some strengths of an 8 are that they can be hard working and go the extra mile. Yet, there are pitfalls as well. They tend to overwork, be stubborn. They are passionate, yet sometimes not in touch with their own feelings and needs. Recently, I was reflecting on my family of origin and its unique challenges. I became gratefully aware that God had created me with a strong, challenger spirit. I needed it to find my way to him through the chaos. I went on to realize how my challenger at it’s most mature makes a way for others and blazes trails for them to live out their mission in the world.

The Enneagram shows us how we function when we feel secure, stressed, healthy or unhealthy. When we see how we were made and why we have the reactions we do, it can build empathy and understanding for other people. When we see people for how they were created, we are able to work with each other instead of against each other. Imagine being able to build teams with this type of self-awareness and to multiply them in your church and throughout the world.

How would your staff meeting or your conversations change if you saw a unique part of God’s image in each person?  

How would your staff meeting or your conversations change if you saw a unique part of God’s image in each person? That’s a new way to approach working together for God’s glory on the earth. What if it began with loving and understanding God’s image in you?

This isn’t a quick journey. I wouldn’t recommend taking an easy online test, although they are out there. A better place to start is to ask Jesus to give you a desire to know yourself. Instead, try the steps below:

1. Pray that Jesus will prepare you to be open to learning about yourself through the tool of the Enneagram.
2. Read a resource that describes the nine types. Here are a few resources to use to view the types here and here.
3. As you are reading notice which types that you have resistance to. Which types really seem to bring up things in your own life for which you feel ashamed of, hurt by, or inadequate? Note these types.
4. Pray specifically about the types that you are feeling resistance to. Ask Jesus to provide some self-awareness for ways which you are designed with these characteristics.

Then reflect and ask yourself:

  • What are some ways that Jesus is calling you to get healing as it relates to the enneagram?
  • What are some ways that Jesus is calling you to celebrate your uniqueness shown by the enneagram?

You can also try keeping a journal to notice what you think, do, or feel during the day. Listen to the webinar Using the Enneagram to Clarify Your Calling or read a book on the subject. I highly recommend Mirror of the Soul: A Christian Guide to the Enneagram by Alice Fryling to start reading about the different types.

Here’s the deal: We are called to continually develop God’s image in us and help others; the enneagram is a great place to start.


Sherri and Mike Harder, Co-Pastor, Vineyard Church in Des Moines, IA. They have 6 adult children and 6 amazing grandchildren. They are coaches with Multiply Vineyard and spiritual directors. They love developing leaders and seeing folks become alive and effective in the unique way God created them.

 
 
 
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