The Enneagram as a tool for spiritual growth

December 05, 2018

The Clergy Leadership Academy, clergy covenant groups, New City Church, and a number of other groups and individuals across the Minnesota Conference are studying the Enneagram and finding it to be a helpful tool for personal and spiritual reflection and growth. I want to offer an overview of what it is and how it might be a helpful resource in your own faith journey.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is an ancient symbol and an ever-evolving model of nine. It diagrams, or maps, nine ways of viewing the world, nine ways of how we get lost, and nine ways we find our way home. The Enneagram is a description of how holistic systems work (or don’t work)! It’s a diagram of how people grow in health and experience transformation and how people get trapped in pain and suffering. It’s a sacred map of the territories of the soul.

Why study the Enneagram?

“Once we understand the nature of our personalities mechanisms, we begin to have a choice about identifying with them or not.  If you are not aware of them, clearly no choice is possible.”  —The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson

Core to my own studies with Don Riso and Russ Hudson of The Enneagram Institute is the practice of becoming more present. Studying the Enneagram raises conscious awareness of my patterns as a 4 with a 3 wing, and has taught me to pause, return to God’s presence, and make choices from a higher level of self. It has defined the territories of true self vs. false self for me. This transformation is big—it’s a resurrection! I return over and over again to this map, The Enneagram, to help me live as a Christ follower. 

The Enneagram has also helped me understand other people’s journeys and respect their struggles and their transformations. It’s a map that’s extremely useful for spiritual growth, team development, and leadership development (click here to watch a video about a clergy covenant group that uses the Enneagram as its primary tool). It is an essential tool for my work as a coach.

How can I explore the Enneagram?

We are spiritual beings on a human journey, and the territories we travel have been mapped. Similar to traveling by car across the country with your Rand McNally Road Atlas or following your Google Maps app, you start by identifying where you are currently, your “home territory” or type, and then explore the routes that take you where you want to go.  

To start exploring, it can be helpful to take an assessment that helps you find your home territory on the map. I recommend the RHETI (Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator), which you can take through The Enneagram Institute for $12. If you would like to start with a free assessment, I’d suggest one you can find here.

The assessments will give you an idea about the territories or types, which you can then explore in more detail by reading or attending workshops or retreats on the Enneagram.

Resources for further exploration

• The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stable. (This is required reading for 2018-2019 Clergy Leadership Academy participants.)
• The Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heuertz
• The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson
• The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Awareness by Beatrice Chestnut
• Self to Lose Self to Find: A Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types by Marilyn Vancil
• What Type of Leader Are You? Using the Enneagram System to Identify and Grow Your Leadership Strengths and Achieve Maximum Success by Ginger Lapid-Bogda
• Deep Living: Transforming Your Relationship to Everything that Matters Through the Enneagram by Roxanne Howe-Murphy

• The Road Back to You
• Typology
• The Enneagram Journey

Jody Thone is director of leadership development for the Minnesota Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

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