Let me make it clear that the enneagram is not Holy Scripture, neither is it Holy Spirit inspired. It is a tool, often used in pastoral groups and workshops to help people understand themselves, to be honest and transparent about themselves to themselves, to address the ways we hide from ourselves, to help us understand others better and be able to work together more harmoniously in church, family, work and social aspects of life. I quote from the back cover of The Enneagram- A Christian Perspective; authors Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert.
“The Enneagram has emerged as a tool that is forcing many of us to a brutal and converting honesty about good and evil and the ways which we hide from ourselves and therefore God. It tries to address the ‘compromise with life’ and this ‘evasion of reality’ that the ego is so heavily invested in and that religion often promotes…”
Truthfully, I have found this to be the case and I will explain why and how as this blog unfolds but for today some general comments about the enneagram.
The www has loads of enneagram information; there are tests and questionnaires one can answer and at the end you are given a number for your type. I did this a couple years ago and it was interesting, however the better way I now believe is to read widely about all the types. As I did this I found that I could identify with parts of each type. I would think yes, that’s me! And to be honest it was all a bit confusing! Apparently some people can quickly identify themselves and for others it can take a lot longer. And it is not a bad thing to be able to see parts of yourself in all the types -Jesus embodied in perfect maturity all aspects of the human experience- but there will be one which resonates more strongly with your unmasked self.
For a while I thought I was a 9 The Peacemaker and this sounded OK; I do hate arguments and tensions and try to pour oil on troubled waters. On further reading I thought no, I’m a 2 The Helper because I do like to help and the positions I most enjoyed during my working life were those where I was an assistant an aide in a much bigger picture. As I have mentioned before no type is better or worse than any other, all have their strengths and weaknesses and and we all sit on a continuum between immature and mature. The goal is to move toward maturity.
To conclude today I will simply list the nine types and their basic need found on the Contents page of The Enneagram- A Christian Perspective; authors Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert.
#1: The need to be perfect
#2: The need to be needed
#3: The need to succeed
#4:The need to be special
#5: The need to perceive
#6: The need for security
#7: The need to avoid pain
#8: The need to be against
#9: The need to avoid
There is plenty of material available both in book form and on the internet if you are interested in learning more about this ancient tool for self discovery and growing in grace and maturity. Just be prepared to be a bit unraveled in the process. I also recommend that you don’t get stuck in The Enneagram but use it as a tool and then get on and do the maturing.