I recently had a friend ask me about the Enneagram and if I knew anything about it.
“I was mentioning this study to a friend that I didn’t realize didn’t like the Enneagram . She said it’s not scriptural and she doesn’t want any part of it …what could I say to her to make her see differently about this particular study? It looks solid to me. “
Lots of people have very strong feelings about it, good and bad. I for one, found it to be very interesting and extremely valuable. I did a group “self-discovery” class based on the Enneagram numbers with my Tuesday morning group that has been meeting for about seven years now and I have to say that despite some skepticism, it was in my opinion, incredibly accurate and enlightening in helping me understand the other ladies! I’ve known these ladies for a long time and I value each one of them. We are all VERY different and have different challenges in life. Each of us have a different way of looking at things, but that is what makes us unique and beautiful. I want to understand them. It has been helpful for me to apply the character traits and thought patterns of my friends, based on their Enneagram type, to give grace and empathy in some places I didn’t quite understand before.
It was helpful for me to see weaknesses in myself that I need to acknowledge and work to make healthier. It’s not a ticket to say, “Well, that’s just how I am. Live with it.” It is truly a tool to help you grow and love better.
Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way I do, but as someone with the experience of going through these character traits with women I trust, women I’ve done in depth bible studies with, solid women who know the bible, women who are prayer warriors, my watchmen on the wall, it was helpful. We took a break from our normal bible study (GASP!) and got relational. It was a fun, interesting, light and helpful experience.
Is it scriptural you ask??? Let me break it down…
Well… It’s relational and Jesus was very relational. He was about love and grace, not religion and rules. His 1st commandment was “love God and love others”,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34
So it is scriptural in the sense that it helps us to love and understand one another better, just like any other self-help book about friendships, marriage and relationships. We are simply seeking help to make them better. Aren’t misunderstandings and the lack of love and empathy the basis for 99% of relational problems? If we can’t learn to understand and love one another then how can we fulfill Jesus’ first commandment? You can “know” a lot about the bible, but if you don’t know how to love, well.. you are ineffective.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
The FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Gary Chapman is not straight out of the bible either, but it is certainly valuable and applicable to the way we apply it to our relationships to understand the people we love better. I mean, churches all over the U.S. have implemented the Five Love Languages concept in their marriage counseling! There’s no where in scripture that says “The five love languages are…”, but it is scriptural and bears a lot of truth, because it’s a concept that is based on loving and understanding your people better.
Many churches give “personality tests” to their perspective employees and serve teams to learn more about them and where they would fit into certain ministries. The Enneagram is no different. It’s just a way to understand giftings that God has given us and how we can best utilize those gifts and understand people better. What’s not scriptural about that?
The Enneagram is the same concept. I think people get weirded out when you talk about numbers, but God is all about numbers. If you study the bible in depth, there are so many intentional things in scripture that have to do with numbers. With that said, obviously, there is nowhere in the bible that lists out the Enneagram numbers! In this case, it really is just a simple way of organizing and naming each type, but it is valuable in helping our relationships.
The bible is God’s inspired word. It is our weapon, our wisdom, our guide, our truth. There is nothing that replaces it. Not the Enneagram or anything else. We have to put things in their place and not give them too much weight. Appreciate the Enneagram for what it is… a relational helper that is based on LOVE! Just like the Five Love Languages, Meyers Briggs, motivational gifts tests… and all the other “personality assessment” helpers we use.
I believe when you understand someone better, you’re more likely to give grace and have empathy for them. Why wouldn’t you want to try to understand people and love them more?