The aphorism “know thyself” is both ancient and relevant. Ancient because this maxim was used by Plato and Socrates and folks long before they even came along. Relevant because we live in a day where this has never been more needed among church leaders. John Calvin in his classic, Institutes of the Christian Religion, wrote: “Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”
The more I lead, the more I realize how important it is to exhibit a growing awareness of God and of myself. Much has been written about growing in our awareness of God and more needs to be written. The purpose of this post is, however, to elevate the importance of growing the awareness of yourself. In the past 10 years of church leadership, I have come across a few great tools. From Myers Briggs, to Strength Finders to my favorite and most helpful; the Enneagram.
Perhaps I’ll write on the former but today I’ll write on the latter. The Enneagram is something I came across back in 2009 due to a friend of mine Shauna Niequist. At the time I was leading the Axis ministry at Willow Creek, a small start up church in the suburbs of Chicago 🙂 That fall, I asked Shauna to come and share her knowledge with us in regards to the Enneagram. What an amazing day that was. She encouraged all of us to take the test, then purchase the book The Wisdom of the Enneagram and come prepared to learn.
Below I break down each type and also share with you my takeaways. Much of what is below you can find in The Wisdom of the Enneagram, so make sure and order that resource.
- Their type: 1
- Their Question: What’s wrong and how can I fix it?
- They are perfectionistic, purposeful, principled and always right 🙂
- My takeaway: I need to have 1’s as friends because they will always tell me how it is. They are ruthless truth tellers. These types are prophetic, super productive and black and white thinkers. This type generally thinks the way they do things is not only right but morally right. This can be problematic to say the least. The best thing you can do for 1 is help them have fun, take days off and know the salvation of the world is not up to them. When they don’t live as healthy 1’s they can be very angry and feel as though everyone else is lazy or irresponsible. They generally put destructive amounts of pressure on themselves.
- Their core desire according to the The Wisdom of the Enneagram is to “be good, virtuous, in balance and to have integrity. Their basic fear is of being bad, defective, evil or corrupt.
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 4.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 7.
- Manipulate by correction, insisting that others share their standards.
- Instinctive Triad
- Core sin patter: Anger
- Their type: 2
- Their Question: Who needs something and how can I gain love by meeting that need?
- My takeaway: Marry two’s and that’s exactly what I did 🙂 This type is often times the heart of the team or the organization. Their warmth is powerful but their need to be needed is also powerful but not in a good way. This is something to manage for sure. Often times this type needs a forced Sabbatical and constant reminding they are not responsible for everyone and everything.
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 8.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 4.
- Manipulate through finding out other’s needs and desires therefore creating dependencies.
- Feeling Triad
- Core sin patter: Pride
- Their type: 3
- Their Question: What do I need to understand about this situation so that I can succeed?
- They are put together, driven, excelling and image conscious.
- My takeaway: Hire 3’s and give them what they need to excel. Also, make sure I am a voice of encouragement because they often get discouraged at not achieving what they think they “should” achieve.
- Their core desire according to The Wisdom of the Enneagram is to “feel worthwhile, accepted and desirable. Their core fear is of being worthless and without value apart from their achievements.”
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 9.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 6.
- Manipulate through charming others to get what they want.
- Feeling Triad
- Core sin patter: Deceit
- Their type: 4
- Their Question: How can I establish myself as unique from everyone else in the room?
- They are creative, expressive, sensitive and slow with change. They are nearly impossible to manage but can oftentimes be a prophetic voice on your team.
- My takeaway: Contract 4’s, don’t hire them 🙂
- Their core desire according to The Wisdom of the Enneagram is to “find themselves and their significance, to create an identity out of their inner experience. Their basic fear is having no identity or no personal significance.”
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 2.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 1.
- Manipulate through being temperamental
- Feeling Triad
- Core sin patter: Envy
- Their type: 5
- Their Question: What information do I need to understand?
- They are innovative, secretive, loners and perceptive. This type love’s to learn. In fact, it is said of this type that “a day without learning is a like a day without sunshine.” When a 5 is given more context or understanding of the details they find this helpful and freeing. Their favorite place to retreat is not Lake Geneva, it’s their minds. Well, they would probably say Lake Geneva and their minds because they most likely already own a nice spot on the lake 🙂
- Their core desire according to The Wisdom of the Enneagram is “of being helpless, useless or incapable. Their basic desire is to be capable and competent.”
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 7.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 8.
- Manipulate through staying preoccupied or being emotionally detached.
- Thinking Triad
- Core sin pattern: Avarice (extreme greed for wealth or material gain per my Lake Geneva joke)
- Their type: 6
- Their Question: Who’s with me and who’s against me?
- They are engaging, suspicious, responsible and loyal. When they are moving ahead in the midst of uncertainty this is a good thing. The way forward for the loyalist is through gratitude.
- Their core desire according to The Wisdom of the Enneagram is “to find security and support. Their core fear is of having no support and guidance, of being unable to survive on their own.”
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 3.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 9.
- Manipulate through complaining to test loyalties.
- Thinking Triad
- Core sin pattern: Fear
- Their type: 7
- Their Question: How can we make this fun?
- They are spontaneous, scattered, enthusiastic, versatile and simply the best 😉 I have been a 7 now for, well, all my life. If you need extra help on this one, please email me or my wife. This type struggles with anything that looks like pain or suffering and will find an alternate route or simply invent one. This type is the Renaissance Man. It can be very difficult if not impossible to lead a 7 but if you happen to have the rare treat, give them lots of space, deadlines and encourage side projects. This can keep them in the game long term. The single best discipline for this type is fasting. The biggest hurdle in life for this type is their “undisciplined pursuit of more”. Remind them that more is often times less…they will take it really well 🙂
- Their core fear is “of being deprived and trapped in pain. Their core desire is to be happy, satisfied and to find fulfillment.”
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 1. We get very black and white.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 5. We get very focused.
- Manipulate through distraction and demanding that others meet their needs.
- Thinking Triad
- Core sin pattern: Gluttony
- Their type: 8
- Their Question: Who’s in charge and do I need to be?
- They are self confident, decisive, confrontational and driven. If you work for an 8, prove that you are loyal, then prove that you are capable. Once you have done this, you will then get the ear of an 8. If you don’t believe me, prepare to get dominated. You will not win. I have found in the church world that many Sr. Pastors are this type. I have also found that in the church world, self awareness is of little priority…especially within driven types. This combination speaks to the damage many pastors have caused in the lives of those they have lead and are leading. That said, I’m not sure there is anything more powerful than an 8 that is self aware and driven to lead as the healthiest 8 possible. I have seen this and it’s lightning in a bottle.
- Their basis fear according to The Wisdom of the Enneagram is “of being harmed or controlled by others. Their basic desire is to protect themselves, to determine their own course in life.”
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 5.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 2.
- Manipulate through utter world dominance 🙂
- Instinctive Triad
- Core sin pattern: Lust (Don’t think sexual, think driven)
- Their type: 9
- Their Question: Where is their conflict and how can I bring peace?
- They are receptive, agreeable and super chill. This type can often travel the world and adjust to other cultures or chaos very well. They seem to never get rattled and move to the beat of their own drum. I personally think this type does a lot of drugs 🙂 Kidding aside, they are some of the most warm and peaceful people you will ever know. This type can need prodding so that complacency doesn’t set in, tempting them toward numbing out or daydreaming. Similar to The Helper, this type struggles to say no and over time this causes resentment to set in.
- Their basic fear according to The Wisdom of the Enneagram is “of loss and separation, of annihilation. Their basic desire is to maintain their inner stability and peace of mind.”
- When they are under stress, they will lean toward a 6.
- When they are healthy, they will lean toward a 3.
- Instinctive Triad
- Core sin pattern: Sloth (unaffected by life, disengagement)
Once again, order The Wisdom of the Enneagram and use it as a textbook to further learn about your type but also the types of those you lead. If you haven’t taken the Enneagram test, you can click here and take it for free. Lastly, if you need any party planning, I’m your guy 🙂