Twitter heard it from me first but… Enneagram is the new astrology.
I haven’t felt the need to discuss it much until the past few months when it suddenly became everywhere. I studied it a little during my human resources degree work a few years back, thought it was an interesting tool, and moved on. I wasn’t expecting to hear about it to the extent that my eye starts twitching when I hear any number between one and nine.
When my roommate asked me a couple of weeks ago what my thoughts were on the Enneagram, I immediately rolled my eyes. Then I checked myself. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with the Enneagram. It’s actually fairly reliable in the long term, which is better than many other personality tests. My problem is when someone asks me what my number is, all I hear is
Astrology and the Enneagram are very different beasts, but ultimately they satisfy our needs to more deeply understand who we are and why we are that way. It’s human nature to seek to after the why‘s of things in our lives. The thing that fascinates me about the Enneagram takeover is the astounding amount of Christians I know who are deeply immersed in the secrets of their numbers.
Like Myer’s Briggs, the DISC test, and tests surrounding love languages and spiritual giftings, the Enneagram can be a useful tool.
A tool. Not an end all, be all. Helpful, but not Gospel.
If you want to get me ranting on personality tests, the absolute best way to do it is to excuse poor behavior because of your personality type.
“Oh, I’m an Aquarius, so I don’t do well with commitment.”
“As an INFJ, I’m sensitive and don’t respond to criticism positively.”
“Type 6s are very fear-driven, so you should know I’m really insecure.”
Your flaws are not an excuse to act poorly. For the record, these are all some of my scores and their corresponding weaknesses. Even the parts that are true don’t give anyone a free license to be the worst. In fact, if you are aware of your weaknesses, the best thing you can do is recognize your triggers and defense mechanisms, and share those when you feel comfortable so others can understand you more. This allows you to have accountability rather than deflect things because of your type.
Mini-rant aside, excusing flaws isn’t the root of this issue either. The issue is seeking and finding identity in a standardized test rather than Jesus Christ. While a deeper understanding of how you function on an individual level is extremely helpful, it always needs to point back to Christ.
Fear-driven? How does the Gospel tell you to respond to fear?
Perfectionist? How does that benefit (or hinder) your ministry?
Knowledge-focused? How does that help you interact with Scripture?
When mankind was created, we were created in the image of God (check out Genesis 2). A creative masterpiece, we were not intended to live a life apart from God, but to live in community as a creation that reflects the Creator. God personifies every good and positive aspect from every number; and when He created man and woman, He did not create people types numbered one through nine.
Who we are is rooted one-hundred percent in God. Our worth and value come from the Gospel. Everything good in us is a blessing from Him and a reflection of how we were created to be. The giftings any personality test encourages in you should be a reflection of Christ. At the same time, any weaknesses they describe should point you towards grace and growth– Biblically.
There are surely aspects of ourselves that will remain steady throughout our lifetimes. However, as we continuously seek to be refined by God, we are changed. Sanctification is a process, and we should expect ourselves to change.
So change. Change radically for the sake of and because of the Gospel.
While tools like personality tests are helpful, I firmly believe the best thing anyone can do to understand themselves more fully is with the help of a counselor. Counselors are trained to understand and interpret the intricacies of your life on an individual level, which is going to be far more telling than any standardized test or Enneagram coach. Heck, even walk through your Enneagram test results with a counselor– but dive deep personally and unpack yourself, and look for Jesus.
The more deeply we know Jesus, the more deeply we will know ourselves. We will know more of who we were created to be if Eden were still home. Because creation reflects Creator, and when who we are seems shaky, He is not.