Originally published Thursday, 10 June 2021.
What is the Enneagram? The Cliffnotes version—it’s a personality typing system with 9 types that focuses on core motivations. It is uniquely designed for personal growth, but as I talk to more people about the Enneagram and have helped them find their type, I’ve found a common reaction to the negative aspects of each type—embarrassment and shame. Each of the 9 types has healthy and unhealthy attributes, depending on whether that person is in a healthy or weaker state. It can be a shock to hear yourself described so accurately, especially when that accuracy has to do with things you might wish weren’t true about yourself—perfectionist, image focused, paranoid, security-oriented, resource hoarding, feels tragically flawed, gluttony, controlling, unrealistically idealistic.
I love what Jesus brings to conversations about the Enneagram. Romans 8:1 (NIV) says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
When we recognize these human coping behaviors and mechanisms in ourselves, it can be disappointing to realize how often we rely on something other than God. But here’s the amazing news—we are not called to a Gospel of shame! Mercy is ours through Jesus. We can recognize and notice these behaviors and thoughts within ourselves without condemnation and surrender them to Christ. These shortcomings are already forgiven by a loving Savior.
I love how Marilyn Vancil phrases next steps for growth in her book Self to Lose, Self to Find, “Knowing the traps common to my type convinces me that my only hope for change is to consent to God’s work in my life.”
When I’m trying to grow or get better on my own strength, I find myself leaning heavily into the weaknesses of my personality type. When I allow myself to hear the message “you are safe and secure with God,” I can allow God to work within me toward transformation and growth.
Sarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She recently became an Enneagram Coach (you can find her at https://sarahclewsenneagramcoach.wordpress.com/). She also helps her husband run their martial arts school. Some of her favorite things are reading, tending house plants, doing embroidery, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.