At the end of March I went to my Enneagram Certification Event in Las Vegas. This picture is the group of people who were a part of that event. They were from all walks of life: pastors, business people, teachers, counselors, etc. It was a different event than what I originally expected. Since most of us were there to learn how to do workshops and coaching through the Enneagram tool, I expected to see a lot of demonstrations on that. Instead, we spent a lot of time delving into our shared experience of the nine Enneagram types, which felt a little like therapy. Therapy is a good thing because therapy can lead to healing. Couldn’t we all benefit from healing?
Our facilitators did a great job creating this environment and it had a lot to do with their structure and personal questions, but it wasn’t just them. The people that were there to learn had a lot to do with it as well. Even though we were all different personality types (all 9 types present) on the Enneagram, everyone had a desire to tap into their experience of life in order to help others do the same. Even though we were all talking about some hurtful experiences that were deeply personal, there was a level of authenticity and vulnerability that created a safe space. In that safe space, people were able to see one another more clearly and that was refreshing for all of us.
As a pastor, I believe we have the challenge of helping our churches create similar communities and you can’t create healing communities without healing people. People who can help create safe spaces for others to come and be vulnerable and transparent about the fact that their experience with humanity has caused them some level of pain and fear. When we can work through that then we have an opportunity to flip that around and realize that we too have caused some pain as well. The great challenge of our American-Christian culture (or just American or just human) is that we have invested so much time and emotional energy into trying to appear as something that we are not, that we now need to give each other permission to reveal our true, flawed selves to one another. It takes a large amount of trust and courage in people to develop this kind of community with others.
The Enneagram is a tool that will show you all sides of yourself, even the sides you prefer to keep secret. When I tell people about how the Enneagram works, they always look excited . . . at first, but then the feeling of vulnerability kicks in and another look becomes apparent. It’s scary, but we are all starving for people and places where we can let down our guard and begin to process our difficult experience of humanity. The greatest challenge for you and your church in creating this type of community is to find that group of non-judgmental, healing people and task them with this ministry. Maybe it’s something they do as a team or maybe it’s something they do individually. Are you one of those people? The Enneagram is just a tool in the hands of people who desire to help themselves and others receive healing and become more authentically that which God has designed them to be. May we all find the courage and the trust to develop authentic community with one another. May that which has harmed us become that which has healed us.