Written by Josee Foster
Have you heard of the Enneagram yet? It’s not new, but it’s on its rise to fame.
The Enneagram of Personality is a particular system that ‘types’ people. And these days, it has a lot of Christians (myself included) fascinated.
Identifying with “your type” can be liberating. Finding words for the parts of you that haven’t previously had words brings excitement and clarity. When I learned that there were other people in the world who load the dishes in an ordered way and find it stressful to load dishwashers with others, I felt understood.
It helps us navigate the quirks of who we are, and has the potential to help us process our past. It serves relationships in our present and helps make decisions for our future. It can increase our capacity to empathize and deepen our understanding of those around us.
Discovering, dissecting and discussing our personalities is helpful, but self-awareness isn’t everything. Identifying exclusively with our strengths and weaknesses can limit our willingness to be transformed. Sanctification is an inevitable aspect of the Christian life (Romans 12:2) and no personality typing system should become an excuse to settle for our blind spots.
Christian comedian John Crist recently uploaded a video about the Enneagram, mocking its use as a license to be inconsiderate. “Sorry I’m late, I’m a 4,” he said mockingly. Replying to ‘himself’ in another voice, he said something like: “You’re not a 4, you’re a terrible person.”
Sadly, it’s true. People excuse themselves from opportunities because they “aren’t good at it.” The times I’ve heard people even limit their healing by saying “I have an addictive personality” is more than I can count. And I’m guilty of it too. Just because I resonate deeply with type one, it doesn’t ever exempt me from conviction to grow into the fullness of love in Christ, in all areas.
That’s why the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus saves, is the best of friends to the Enneagram.
We must always be willing to grow past our need to find comfort in “our type” and excuse ourselves from receiving our healing. Putting language to our weaknesses should not fuel a quest to “be better,” but help us know the words to pray. After all, God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) On the flipside, recognizing our strength mustn’t inform our identity, but unlock the unique qualities God’s put inside of us. It will move us to worship. It will paint new layers of understanding onto the image we behold in our minds of our God.
In all of this, it’s important to remind ourselves, and each other, that the Christian life isn’t “all about me.” It isn’t simply about analyzing our strengths and weaknesses so we can be better people. It’s about Jesus. When we walk in awareness of our weaknesses and strengths in light of the Gospel message, it will all point us back to our saviour & friend, Jesus. That’s who it’s all for anyway!