Our church is committed to dealing with the ideas and movements that people are actually talking about in our day. The Enneagram (a way of understanding different personality types) is such a thing. Whether you are excited about the Enneagram or are concerned that this is one more navel-gazing distraction from the gospel at best, or dabbling in the occult at worst, this post is for you.
Self-awareness is crucial knowledge – not only for your own wellness but for the wellness of others AND your obedience to God. Consider this analogy – if you are unware of where you are physically, if you a driving a car at 60 miles an hour but you actually dont know which side of the road you are driving on – you are not only a danger to yourself, you are a danger to everyone else in your path. Similarly, if you lack self-awareness about your own personality and how other people experience you, you are not only going to have a more miserable life, you are going to make other people miserable as well. This means that you are violating one of the many dimensions of the command of Jesus “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you are oblivious to how your decisions and behaviors impact your neighbor, you cannot love them well.
The Enneagram is not magic, it is not scripture, it is not the final word on what makes human beings tick. Rather it is one of many imperfect man-made tools available for trying to get a handle on the landscape of personalities. Like any other cultural fad, some people are WAY too much into the Enneagram, it can almost become a sub-culture of “my people” and that is no good at all. You can get so obssesed with trying to pamper or figure yourself out, or getting to the next “break through” that you become self-absorbed and so no worldly good to anyone else at all. At the other extreme, some people are highly skeptical of any sort of psychological insight, completely unwilling to being open to the possibility that their own current vision is not 20/20 – and that is no good either. That is simply foolishness and arrogance. If you think you have it all figured out, what need do you have of scripture ? What more does God’s Holy Spirit have to say to you ? How could God ever convict you or take you beyond the horizon of your current sight ?
Whatever the Enneagram means to other groups, and however it is used by other people, we can tell you exactly how we are using it here at Leverington. I remember sitting in a seminary class where the professor was sharing some things I found very helpful, but also saying other things I found downright heretical. After class I was frustrated (OK, angry), and I asked one of my African brothers how he dealt with it. He said “It is like eating fish – I eat the meat, but I spit out the bones.” This is the same stance we take towards the Enneagram – we are sharing the parts we think are helpful and true, which are in keeping with the teachings of scripture, and ignoring the rest. Our focus is not on this particular model, but rather on getting a handle on the wants, needs, desires, fears, and beliefs that actually motivate us. Each Sunday we begin with a biblical character that illustrates a certain tendency and then we end with scripture that can challenge and encourage us to be mastered by God rather than just the default ways of behaving we picked up somewhere along the way.
It is obvious that we are all tempted in different, sometimes opposite directions. One person thinks to much of themselves and needs to learn humility. Another person thinks too little of themselves and needs to learn how precious they are in God’s eyes. All of us drift away from Jesus in different directions. We will use the Enneagram to help us spot the particular ways each of us drift from Jesus and the life he would have for us. We hope you can join us! Please see the schedule on this website.