Back in 2012 I ventured out of my spiritual comfort zone and headed to a Richard Rohr and James Finley Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan Friar within the Roman Catholic Church who is an author and sage in the arena of spirituality and faith. James Finley is a monk and author of equal ability who was a student of the late, great Thomas Merton. In order to save money, I even packed a tent and my sleeping bag and camped out in the mountains while attending. Back then, I was 37 years old and appeared to be the youngest person at the Conference. Richard and James are old souls who speak in an ancient wisdom that was challenging for me to engage the entire time. It was like listening to someone drop earth shattering revelations every four or five sentences without stopping to wait for me to catch up. While there, I was absolutely amazed by the diversity of faith traditions present at his event. It was Catholics and Protestants as well as some within Eastern and New Age religions. It was a very peace loving group of faith people.
Outside of the conference center was of course the proverbial book sales tables. I remember walking around and seeing many books outside of the atypical church growth and Christian devotional genres I was more accustomed to. There was one book though that really caught my attention. It was a thick book called, “The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types.” Now, I was not unfamiliar with the concept of personality profiles. I had taken many through different churches I had been a part of and always enjoyed the insights that came from them. But what I immediately liked about this new book in my hands, was that the Enneagram was set up to help give you insight in order to grow deeper in your faith and maturity. It seemed to name different hurts and fears and then demonstrate how those played into how you respond to stress and certain relationship dynamics. This was amazing! I was intrigued and of course intrigue led to a purchase.
Have you ever bought a book and then stuck it on your shelf to collect dust? I have and the thick book on the Enneagram became a poor office decoration instead of a tool and a resource. Years late, intrigue won out again and I did pick it back up. I read some of the initial chapters and even went online and took the profile tool. When I completed the online tool it was during a very stressful time in my life which, as it turns out, can mess with your score. When I received my results back I was an exact tie between a Type 4: The Individualist, and the Type 9: The Peacemaker. The email I received with my results actually included a free opportunity to take the tool again because it’s evidently impossible to be an even split between two different types. Look at me breaking the mold! This was a little disheartening and I actually didn’t take the tool right away, instead I waited until almost another year. The second time I took it I actually almost tied again except for one additional point in the Type 4. One stinking point extra!
As I read about the Type 4, I could relate some to it but in many ways I could not. The Type 4 is generally a more artistic person and there isn’t much artistic about me. They desire to be loved and known by their gift and their expression. They often feel like other people can’t understand them and therefore, there is something flawed or broken about them. As I learned more about the Type 4, I could at times connect with some of the feelings they experienced but not always the reasons that they did. So, I enjoyed learning more about the Enneagram again, but ultimately put the book back on the shelf and went on my merry way. It wasn’t until going through a season of depression recently (unfortunately not my first rodeo) that caused me to pick up the book again and look a little deeper into the Type 9: The Peacemaker. Each of the types has what’s called a “Social Role”. A social role reminds me very much of the phrase “all the world is a stage”. If all of the world is a stage, when you walk onto the stage with a stage full of other people, what do you do? Do you throw your arms up in the air and say, “here I am”! Do you look around the stage and examine the layout and try to quickly asses who is who? The social role of the Type 9 is ‘no one special”. That is often times how a 9 see’s themselves, as no one special. Which can be a more humble and subtle role on the stage of life, but can also become self-effacing and non-intrusive in an unhealthy place. I very much identified with that social role and often times minimize the importance of who I can be as pastor and spiritual leader in the lives of my church and friends. More than anything, I also could see that the deep fear for a 9 is a fear of disconnection from other people. This fear of disconnection often makes a 9 more agreeable with people as opposed to standing firm for their own beliefs; thus the title “Peacemaker”. They often move people in their lives towards peaceful resolution to minimize the personal fear of disconnection as it relates to them and those they care about. All of this was a huge “aha” for me and helped connect so many challenging pieces together throughout my life. It has helped me to give words to the feelings I have within and to be more aware of how those feeling cause me to interact with other people.
The Enneagram has been a powerful tool for me lately and has helped me focus on better emotional health and self-respect. I know that what I do as a Pastor adds value to people’s lives and I believe that being a better student of the Enneagram will help me strengthen others by giving them a greater awareness of their hurt, fear and insecurities. We all have them and I believe having a greater awareness of where they come from makes us more powerful as people. When we become students of our emotions and how they make us act, we create an opportunity to choose a different pattern for ourselves. We have an opportunity to make a more confident decision, a less fearful decision, a more helpful decision. At the end of this month, I’m looking forward to going to an Enneagram Certification Training for a week in order to teach and coach others. I’m also hoping to take this training and offer outdoor retreats for leaders to enjoy nature and learn more about how their Enneagram Type affects their decision making and relationships. Soon I will post these different opportunities to my website. I’m incredibly excited about this opportunity and look forward to sharing the good things that come from it in the future! The Enneagram has been a great tool and resource for me and I look forward to seeing it help others as well.