Ages ago—or maybe it was only a year ago—I listened to a podcast laying out how evil Enneagram is. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I didn’t actually see how widespread it was in Christian circles until I came here to CMA where a lot of students and staff alike talked about Enneagram. It was the first place (beyond writing groups) where people talked about such things so openly and I started thinking about the podcast again.
One of the main reasons the speakers were set against Enneagram was where it came from which is, granted, fairly sketchy. There’s very little information about it—some people say it’s an ancient system; others that a guy invented it not terribly long ago after dabbling in eastern religions and the occult. There’s also the arbitrariness of it. Why nine? Why that shape? Why, why, why?
I’m not going to go into all the various realms of thought here; you can do that on your own if you want. Suffice it to say that it does have questionable backgrounds and should be used with discernment. Don’t just take a fact and run with it ‘because I’m a five’ or ‘I’m a seven.’ Base what you do on truth.
However, ‘truth’ is a reason I actually really like Enneagram. Because it isn’t just surface comments about personality. Instead, the system goes deep to the root of problems, dealing with core vices and core goals.
We all know we are human and that means we aren’t perfect. The Enneagram highlights that. The core vices point to motivations in a person and the filters we view the world through. While I don’t ever assume I have a problem because ‘type fives struggle with this’ it did help me pull together and centralize things I did struggle with.
Using Enneagram as a tool didn’t change the fact I needed to grow, but it helped me focus on the areas I where I had problems and then work to change those things.
I tend not to use their growth models though. As Christians, our goal needs to not be ‘grow into a healthy version of a five’ but ‘grow to be more like God and have a deeper relationship with Him.’
This was one of the points the podcast made that I agreed with. The danger to any personality typing is that it can make everything about us. This is who we are. This is what we need to change. On our own.
We must not get so obsessed with ourselves that we forget the point of our existence is not to become the best kind of person we can but to build our relationship with God. And that is done by growing and learning from the Scriptures our whole life long.
So. Enneagram and personality typing.
Is it evil? No. Can it be taken too far? Yes.
It is also a helpful tool to understand ourselves and others. If it’s not your thing, then don’t worry about it. If it is something you enjoy, use it to learn. But remember where your focus needs to lie.
With God and your relationship with Him.