In the last two or three years, a seemingly new personality tool has emerged on the scene. The word “enneagram” has begun to pop up. It certainly sounds strange and its diagram even seems suspect. Actually, the Enneagram is an ancient tool with its use among the Early Church being cited as far back as the 4th century. (Many feel its valid to date the Enneagram’s existence to even earlier in pre-Christian settings.) All that to note that the Enneagram is not a new method on the scene, a “Johnny-come-lately”, but an ancient tool used for centuries to help people understand themselves and further surrender through their transformation into the image of the Christ (a call for us all).
Key components of the Enneagram are the nine different personality types or styles, each of which reflects a facet of God’s pure image. The Enneagram shows us the god-like characteristics that are part of our truest self. With some discernment, we can identify with one particular Enneagram style (or number). In its giftedness, the Enneagram also reveals our most consistent pitfalls, barriers or roadblocks. These can be called our root sins, our “pet” sins which, in our most humble state, we are willing to realize we keep facing repeatedly. This awareness creates a sensitivity that, along with grace, helps us make different choices (instead of returning to the rutted behavior).
Another treasure of the Enneagram is how each number is attached to two other Enneagram numbers or types which either serve us well or deepen our rut. Becoming aware of the presence of these behaviors opens our hearts to other ways to be. Instead of always functioning out of a default behavior, we become aware of our better choices. The affirmation, the positivity we feel in these moments strengthen us to keep returning to the better behavior, more naturally.
My training as a Spiritual Director brought the Enneagram into my life 7 years ago. While I learned a lot during my three-year program, lessons and insights surrounding the Enneagram is what impacted me the most. Truly, it has been life-changing for me. It’s opened my eyes to dynamics which have frustrated me for years – how I treat others, how I respond to others, even how I treat myself. Suddenly there was language and understanding to what I had been feeling and ways I had been reacting and I began to organically move into better responses and behaviors. I feel I live more whole heartedly out of my strengths and see my value for the common good. I am far quicker at recognizing my return to an old rut and am more often able to turn my face, my heart, a different direction. With the companionship of God’s Holy Spirit, my Spiritual Director, and friends who are also Enneagram-aware (it’s been enriching for me and Jim in our marriage), I feel this tool has been life-giving in my desire to live more like Christ.
I long to give enough description of the Enneagram to inform and, perhaps, intrigue you with its potential in/for your life. Rest assured, you can get your bearings in regard to the Enneagram. Good reading and sound teaching will aid you.
In that spirit, we offer an Exploration entitled, “Introduction to the Enneagram.” Having experienced the meaningful gift which is the Enneagram, we are confident that this offering can and will “bring more life to our years.”
For more about coming “Introduction to the Enneagram” Explorations (including one in north Houston at the Cramer Retreat Center on January 12), click here.