What The Enneagram Means For Your Ministry

One of the things I find most interesting is how understanding our personalities can make (or break) different areas in our life.

When it comes to our relationships, understanding how we’re wired is necessary to communicate do’s, don’ts, and don’t evens to our friends, partners, and colleagues. The self-awareness that comes with knowing what makes us run allows us to collaborate, delegate, and initiate with synergy like never before.

Before I move forward, let me acknowledge this: it’s very possible to get too interested in personality profiling. There’s a fine line between healthy observation and unhealthy obsession, and I’ve seen in multiple settings how these helpful tools can become a source of identity and empty fulfillment.

But, when used properly, personality profiling can blow the roof off of your capabilities. As someone serving in full-time ministry, I’ve seen such practices among teams leverage every ounce of productivity, leadership, and, most importantly, vulnerability to create a culture of excellence, innovation, and trust.

In just a few (not so) short thoughts, I’d love to show you why I believe that personality profiling can enhance and propel your ministry to the next level.

WHY PERSONALITY PROFILING?

The beauty of tests like the Myers-Briggs, DISC, StrengthFinders, and Enneagram is that they’re diagnostic in nature; they help you get closer to seeing the real you, and give you a glimpse into how you can best use your personality to move forward. They take simple questions that are seemingly unrelated and use your answers to paint a wide brush stroke of who you are as a person, what fuels you, what drains you, and what you can do with that information. As a result, you can go into different settings, whether business, leisure, or somewhere in between with a solid arsenal of answers when someone asks you to tell them about yourself.

As I interviewed for a church in May 2017, one of the first things they had me do was take a series of tests (which honestly was one of the most painful 3 hours of my life, outside of the SAT). The first half was for their internal purposes, but the second half was purely for my self-awareness. While the results of the second half did go on file, they didn’t get sent to the recruitment team during the process, and honestly the staff members with whom I connected weren’t super concerned with them and how they related to the interview process; they were only concerned with me understanding the results that I received and learning how to apply it as I moved forward, whether as a part of their staff or not. It was great to see, specifically through an expanded Myers-Briggs test, how I’m wired in regards to the 4-letter classification.

However, if you rely on just the Myers-Briggs to fully evaluate your personality, I believe that you’re missing out on a deeper understanding of yourself and how even your spiritual side interacts with the world around you.

Enter the Enneagram, a 9-type powerhouse filled with layers of mystery, depth, and a whole lot of, “Whoa, it’s like this thing knows me.”

Stemming from the 7 deadly sins (with fear and deceit added to make 9), the Enneagram suggest that there are 9 core personality types at work within every single one of us. When it comes down to it, each type has a specific weakness that correlates to those 7 deadly sins. Here’s how it breaks down:

enneagram passions

(courtesy of The Enneagram Institute)

Before I dive further into the Enneagram, most of what I’ve learned about the profile comes from Ian Cron and the aforementioned Enneagram Institute, so for more information that goes more in depth, please please PLEASE: use these resources. Pay the $12 to take the full test on the Enneagram Institute website. If you’re looking to use this test as a resource, then you need to be properly assessed and outfitted with the right tools and knowledge.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Concerning the Enneagram, Ian Cron posits this thought in his Q Talk from 2017: we cannot truly know God unless we truly know ourselves.

Now, if you know me, I write out of my beliefs. What I say, do, and think originates from my worldview. I’m a Christian. I’m a pastor. I’m what the world calls, “pretty religious.” So, it proceeds from that vein that there’s a deep connection between knowing ourselves, the created, and knowing God, the Creator. I would argue that without knowing God, we cannot know who we truly are.

Therefore, in reciprocal fashion, we cannot truly know God unless we know how He’s wired us. We cannot have that deep connection with our Father until we take steps to know what makes us who we are, what makes us stumble, and what makes us succeed. The self-awareness that comes with knowing our personalities will inevitably created a heightened awareness of God within us, and we would do well to prioritize understanding our inner selves.

John Calvin, the famous Protestant reformer of the 1500’s, wrote in his seminal work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God,” as well as, “Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.” This constantly circulating, constantly intensifying, constantly revealing intersectionality reveals that we can’t be who God made us to be unless we first dig deep into the recesses of our souls, only made possible by first entering into a relationship with the Creator.

MINISTRY AND YOUR PERSONALITY

For the Christian readers out there, we have a deeper responsibility than just knowing ourselves when it comes to our purpose. No matter what industry, vocation, or position you find yourself in, we all have the same calling: make disciples. We each have a ministry that is completely our own, and we must use our giftings and blessings in order to bring other people closer to Christ.

There are so many ways for us to use our personalities and gifts in order to reach others, so there’s no right or wrong formula. But, here are a few ideas and thoughts I have concerning how using the Enneagram can skyrocket your potential, both in your personal ministry as well as within the ministries where you serve.

Knowing your vices helps you love people better.

Sometimes, when we admit that we’re messed up, and figure out what our weaknesses are, we have more empathy for those around us. We come to place where we finally admit that we don’t have it all together, and we stop condemning other people for their mistakes because we’re right where they are too. We can stop being a slave to the “holier than thou” mentality, and finally do what Jesus calls us to do in loving our neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37).

As an Enneagram 2, I struggle with my pride. I can, at times, view myself as irreplaceable. I can be too self-absorbed and end up only looking out for me. Just admitting these things is painful enough, but what I can do in knowing my vices is point myself first toward the truth that we’re all in this thing together; we can’t do it alone, and we need each other. And by preaching this to myself, I can help others who are facing the same problems learn that it truly isn’t about “me”.

Knowing how you’re wired helps you plug into community better.

A holistic approach to who we are as individuals not only helps us see ourselves in the right light; it lets us know how we can best connect with others. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone, so it only makes sense that such a diagnostic method should help us ensure that we don’t have to go on the journey by ourselves. Using your vices, strengths, and tendencies, find people who have at least a basic understanding of what you’re going through. Take an inventory of your interests, and look for people who do the same things; more times than not, those people can relate to your struggles because they have similar wirings.

Knowing your strengths helps you lead better.

When we know where we excel, we can play to our strengths and go after situations, positions, and/or opportunities that excite our passions. Knowing your niche enables you to find people, positions, and places that will allow you to feel at home, and lead from a place of security instead of from fear. And that’s a really good feeling. To know that you can be yourself while doing what you love and moving forward with it is one of the most satisfying, gratifying, and electrifying feelings.

Your strengths are what will be on display when you’re at your healthiest, so this is where taking care of yourself comes into play. When you’re self-aware, knowing how to identify the good, the bad, and the ugly within your soul, you have a deeper responsibility to dive deeper into your relationship with God, as we discussed earlier. When you as a believer are detached from the source of your peace and true fulfillment, these strengths and high points ultimately mean nothing.


In closing, I think my biggest admonition to those of you who have made it this far is this: know where you’re at with God. Knowing yourself is great and helpful, but only to an extent. You hit a ceiling of self-knowledge without a definite knowledge of the Divine.

So, wherever you are, whatever you do, however you do it, please take the time to assess your relationship with God. It’s okay to be where you are, but it’s not okay to stay where you are.

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