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Five years ago, I hit a wall. I had navigated ministry in several high impact churches. I had led through times of deep pain and loss. I had also seen God do incredible things in the churches where I served, but it was difficult to celebrate see the good things in the midst of people’s messiness and my personal emotional state. Instead of walking away, the Holy Spirit led me to get help, and my wife and the Elders of my church came around me and created a safe space to listen and learn. In the midst of that painful time, I first encountered the enneagram, thanks to my counselor/coach. For the next several weeks, I will process how God can use the enneagram in the life of the pastor, church, and our relationships.

Let’s start with the pastor. I’m a pastor, so I feel like I can speak to how the enneagram helped push me toward emotional and spiritual health. The Enneagram is a personality profile that has been around for a really long time. The basics center on 9 personality types/numbers that people tend to land in with a primary number, a secondary number (called a wing), and a number that we drift toward in times of stress or unhealth. There are both secular and spiritual writings on this test, but if you want to explore the Enneagram from a spiritual perspective, I recommend checking out, The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron. I send people to this Enneagram test, and it’s worth the ten dollars you will pay. I also recommend booking a session with a trained Enneagram coach to help you process your results as no test can actually tell you which number you are.

The Enneagram helps pastors become more self aware.

When I took the test for the first time it was like someone turned the lights back on in my soul. The Enneagram gave me a framework to express my feelings, my fears, my needs, and my failures in a clear way. It also explained why I was in such a stalemate spiritually knowing that I had taken on roles in ministry that were out of duty and not my calling. I was leading out of obligation and not joy and you can only lead so long that way. After learning more about the enneagram I also was able to communicate better with my wife about where I was at and the next steps I needed to take. Sometimes we need better words to frame what is happening to us emotionally as we serve others through ministry. This is where I found those words.

The Enneagram reveals your unhealthy tendencies.

The beauty of this profile personality is that it does an incredible job of exposing the sin tendencies we have and why we are drawn to them. The enneagram was first developed for monks serving in monasteries. The guys were there to serve God, leave the outside world behind, but they still found themselves in constant conflict with other monks. Sin is both subtle and powerful in our lives, and it’s always active, trying to draw us to unhealthy places. The enneagram helps pastors explore these dark places in our hearts because they are there. Suppose you are not aware of unredeemed choices you tend to make; you can fall into unhealthy patterns over and over. You have unhealthy tendencies, and you need help seeing them.

The Enneagram helps pastors understand the people they serve and serve with.

The enneagram provides so much insight to people that are different than you. As a pastor, you will serve and serve with each personality type, and having that information gives you insight into how to understand what they need from you. Treating every person the same way is a leadership disaster. Asking people to conform to your personality profile is defeating to others. The enneagram can help give you a framework for serving and leading the people in your congregation.

The Enneagram helps pastors confront their own insecurities.

We are all insecure. Pastors who are not aware of their own insecurities are dangerous because they are constantly leading out of that place. The enneagram gives you some clarity to see your insecurities and provide space to ask yourself questions before you make pastoral or leadership moves. Why are you doing what you are doing? Is fear driving the choices I am making?

Here at the end of 2020, there is no better time to evaluate your own emotional and spiritual health. The enneagram can be a great tool for the pastor if you will give it a shot. I know you may be resistant because you have some annoying enneagram fanboys or fangirls around you but make space for it and see if it helps you.