What to Make of the Enneagram

What to Make of the Enneagram

The Enneagram helps us discover our own selves in light of God’s truth so we can more deeply know who God is, according to James Emery White at Crosswalk.com.

Many of us have taken the Myers-Briggs test. We talk about being ENTJs or INTJs, or INFPs or ENTPs, FOXTVs or MSNBCs.

Okay, I made those last two up.

On the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I am an INTJ, which stands for introvert, intuitive, thinking and judging. Or, as I like to think about it, INTJs are normal and others are irritating.

I can’t begin to tell you how important it was for me to get in touch with the first of those four letters—being an introvert. I honestly didn’t know it for a long time. I didn’t hear people talk about such things, so it wasn’t on my radar. People assumed (and I would have assumed) I was extroverted because I was good with people, comfortable in up-front roles and public speaking, and found myself in leadership positions.

But I wasn’t an extrovert.

The truth is that I got all of my emotional energy from being alone. (That’s the key difference between an introvert and an extrovert—where you get your emotional energy from.) Too much people time, and I would end up in the fetal position not knowing why I was so drained.

But I do now.

I love people, but I get my emotional energy away from people. Knowing that has helped me immensely.

But is personality awareness spiritual? Or does it just breed a kind of narcissism—a self-centeredness, a preoccupation with ourselves? The Bible’s answer may surprise you.

If I had to give the Bible’s headline, it would be, “Apart from knowing who you are, you cannot know who God is.” Or as one of the leaders of the 16th century Protestant Reformation put it, “There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self, and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God.”


Because when it comes to the Christ life, there is a self to lose and a self to find. If that sounds like psycho-babble, it’s actually scripture. Here’s how the apostle Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Ephesians:

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV)

And in his letter to the Colossians, he put the same idea this way:

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:8-10, NIV)

There is a self to lose and a self to find. We have a personality, and there are parts of it that are operating exactly like they should, and parts that aren’t. You can’t put off your old self and put on your new self if you aren’t in touch with… self.

The goal is to discover yourself in light of God’s truth so that you can quit being who you shouldn’t be and fully embrace who you are to be.  Your truest, best self that God intended. 

So how do you get to know yourself? And I mean deeply? There are a lot of ways. You can gain self-awareness through trusted friends, counselors and spiritual directors. You can utilize tests like the Myers-Briggs or things like StrengthsFinder.

But there is something much more ancient. It’s called the Enneagram. I know, some of you are saying, “The enne-a-what?” Others of you might be wondering, “Is this some kind of new-age thing?”

The truth is that the Enneagram is anything but new; in fact it’s very biblical.

It’s deeply rooted in ancient Christian thinking and Christian spirituality, going all the way back to the era known as the time of the desert fathers, which included the earliest centuries of the Eastern Christian monastic movement.