The Enneagram: An Ancient Tool

The Enneagram, like the Spirit of truth itself, will always set you free, but first it will make you miserable!
— Rohr & Ebert

I opened the chapter curiously and began to read. “People who belong to type six have tremendous gifts: they are cooperative, team players, reliable. Their friendships are marked by warmhearted and deep feelings. They are often highly original and witty. They do their utmost, give body and soul, for the people they love.”

Hmm, I thought. Not bad. Yeah, I can see those qualities in myself. I continued reading with a bit more confidence…until I began to encounter words and phrases much less encouraging: “fearful, self-doubt, pessimists, anxious about success, exaggerated striving for security.” Yikes! Wasn't looking for that.
I have always been fascinated by personal assessments. StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, DISC, spiritual gifts, ProScan, LifeMap…I’ve taken all these and more. The human soul is an absolute marvel—a diamond with hundreds of facets that reflect dimensions of our heavenly Father, the divine DNA many call the imago dei, the image of God. Each assessment offers a lens for peering into one of those diamond facets and seeing another view or dimension of who we are, yielding clues to our purpose in this world.
While I was introduced to the Enneagram a couple years ago, it’s only been within recent months that I have recognized this tool as utterly unique. Not only do the roots of the Enneagram go back to the “desert fathers” of the third century AD, but this ancient typology does something no other assessment does (that I’m familiar with): it marks a path for spiritual formation. In other words, it goes beyond describing who we are and points us toward who we are meant to be. It is an invitation to engage the work of transformation, and I am finding it an extraordinary journey.
Part of the journey, however, is daunting. It calls us to face our darkness as well as our brilliance—the “false self” that hinders and obscures the image of God in us. Those who are only willing to acknowledge their strengths miss this essential ingredient for transformation.
So I invite the courageous to this path of discovery. The surface of the Enneagram is insightful and safe…but the real opportunities for change and growth lie beneath the waterline. The Enneagram cannot transform us, but as a tool of the Spirit of God, it is a vehicle of transformation. Slowly but surely, this SIX is moving from fear to faith. What will your journey hold?

Posted on October 24, 2013 .