“What Enneagram type is Jesus?”
Christians often ask me that question when I’m explaining the Enneagram to them.
If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram, it is a personality typing system, categorizing people in nine main categories (with multiple variants) each based on core motivations that drive us.
We could make a case for Jesus being any Enneagram type, and we would be right. And wrong. Because Jesus isn’t one “type” but parts of His character can be seen in a unique way through every type.
Why? Because Jesus is God. And each of us is created in His image. The healthy aspects of each Enneagram type reflect aspects of who He is. He created us to represent Himself to the world.
While the Enneagram is rising in popularity, often people seem to miss the depth of this tool, and how it can help us draw closer to God and glorify Him. Nothing is perfect, nor can this kind of tool replace knowing God, His word or being in community, but this tool can be helpful when used together with the other things God has given us for growth.
Part of the value of the Enneagram with regard to our spiritual growth is that it can help us recognize both our dignity and our depravity. In other words, how we are made in a way that reflects and glorifies who God is, as well as how we fall short when we live in our own strength.
So how does each number have the potential to be a reflection of God? How can the Enneagram draw us closer to Him?
Enneagram Ones are known as “The Reformers”. They are meant to reflect God’s goodness, righteousness, and justice. They long for the world to be just and fair in the world — like it was intended to be — and will sacrificially work to that end. Ones demonstrate God’s goodness and righteousness.
For Ones, this commitment to right living can quickly turn into perfectionism (another common name for Ones is “the perfectionist”). No one is righteous but God, but Ones will strive for perfection in their own strength, expecting it from themselves and others.
As they pursue holiness and right living, Ones need to be reminded of the gospel: Because of Jesus, they don’t have to be perfect to be accepted and loved. When God looks at those of us who know Him, He doesn’t see our imperfections; He sees His righteousness, given to us through faith in Him. The more Ones rest in this truth, the more they will be at peace with themselves and the world.
Enneagram type Twos are known as “The Helpers”. They can show us God’s unconditional love. Twos have a God-given desire to make sure everyone feels cared for and loved, and they are quick to notice the needs of others. Healthy Twos emulate the unconditional love and nurturing heart of the Father.
While this desire to serve and love well is good, when Twos strive for this apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, it becomes self-serving. The service can become a way for them to feel indispensable and appreciated. They give in order to get, without inviting others to serve them in return, creating an imbalance in their relationships.
The part of the gospel Twos need to hear is that they are loved and wanted apart from what they do for or give to others. God proclaimed our dignity at creation when He made us in His image, and He showed us our worth when Christ died for us on the cross. It’s nothing we can earn. Affirming this truth in their hearts will help free Twos to love without expectation of return.
Enneagram type Threes are called “The Performers”. They aim for the best in all they do, and they usually succeed. As they pour their energy into achieving their goals, they can be a role model to others, inspiring hope and confidence. They are a reflection of God’s hope and radiance.
Yet too often for Threes, the glory becomes about themselves and their abilities. Rather than pointing back to God (after all, He is the one giving them the ability to do what they do) they can use it to puff up their own sense of value.
Threes need to hear that they are loved for who they are, brokenness and all — not just for the successful image they are trying to project. God loves us just as we are and moved toward us while we were still sinners. As Threes press into this, they can experience the freedom to live authentically, inspiring lives with true confidence and joy.
Enneagram type Fours are known as “Individualists” or “Romantics”. There is a drive in them to be unique and to find personal significance. They are deeply empathetic and sensitive to others. They cultivate beauty in the world, reflecting the creativity and depth of the Creator.
However, Fours can overdo this when they fall into thinking that it is their creativity and uniqueness that will create a place for them in the world. They lose touch with their God-given gifts as they focus instead on what talents and gifts they think they’re missing and have to find.
Instead, Fours need to hear that in Christ they lack nothing. They are whole and complete, fully known and accepted in Jesus. They are His unique creation. Claiming this truth can free Fours to offer the incredible creativity and depth that God has given them to the world while remembering it ultimately comes from Him.
Enneagram type Fives are “The Investigators”. Driven by a desire for knowledge, they often become experts in their fields. It is this deep knowledge and wisdom that shows us a similar part of who our all-knowing and wise God is.
But Fives can become too focused on gaining knowledge for their own sake as a way to feel capable and protected from others. Rather than offering their knowledge in humility to others, they hoard it to guard themselves from an intruding world.
Fives need to know that if they step out of their minds and into the world, they will not be overwhelmed, because God is with them wherever they go. He is a God of abundance, not scarcity. He is a generous God whom we can trust and rely on to meet our needs. As Fives embrace this, they can offer themselves freely to others without fear of being overwhelmed.
Enneagram type Sixes are known as “The Loyalists”. They are faithful, responsible and committed, creating safety and security for themselves and others. They reflect not only God’s steadfastness and faithfulness to us but also His courage.
When Sixes are living from their own strength, they can miss displaying this courage and instead pour their energy into avoiding fearful or uncomfortable situations. They tend to doubt their own judgment and lean too heavily on the guidance of others. They fabricate worst-case scenarios in order to feel in control of potentially unsafe situations.
Sixes need to remember that God is in control and that the story ends well. Yes, there is danger along the way, but our God is a good God, always watching out for us, always guiding. When God looks at those of us who know Him, His Spirit is alive in them, and when they learn to listen to His voice, they can step out in faith wherever He leads.
Enneagram type Sevens are known as “The Enthusiasts”. They are energetic and optimistic, bringing life and fun to every situation. They demonstrate God’s joy, redemption and abundance.
It can be challenging for Sevens to know when to slow down, though. They don’t want to miss out on anything in life, but if their enthusiasm is driven too much by avoiding suffering and inner turmoil, they will miss out on something important. They will miss meeting God in all circumstances of life and the growth that comes through hard times.
Sevens need to hear that God is still God amid whatever darkness they might encounter. He is in even the ordinary, mundane moments of life. True joy is found not in ignoring hard situations but in meeting Him there. Sevens who allow themselves to slow down and enter suffering more deeply will find even greater, fuller joy to share with others.
Enneagram type Eights are called “The Challengers”. They are confident, straight-forward, bold and decisive. They use their power for the good of others. In them, we see God’s strength and protection.
That power can be intimidating to others. Eights may use their strength as a defense to avoid being controlled by others rather than using it for the good of those around them.
Eights need to know there is great strength in vulnerability. God is big enough to carry and protect them no matter what the circumstances are, so they can lay their guard down with Him and others. As eights allow themselves to be vulnerable, they will use their power not for themselves but to serve others with tenderness and sacrificial love.
Enneagram type Nines are “The Peacemakers”. They are often gentle, patient, approachable and accepting. When they are healthy, they can bring people together and mediate conflict well. They reflect God’s peace and oneness.
However, when Nines’ commitment to peace leads to avoiding conflict at all costs, they become disengaged from what’s happening around them. In those times, they are not peacemakers, but peacekeepers, denying the reality of problems and pain around them.
Nines need to remember that their presence — even in difficulty — matters to the world around them. Staying disengaged does not bless others; people need what Nines bring to the table. As Nines gain confidence in their God-given significance, they can be true peacemakers, bringing healing and wholeness to others.
The Enneagram helps us see the ways God has uniquely created us to reflect Him and what can often get in the way of our reflecting Him. He calls all of us to recognize the ways we are trying to carve out an identity for ourselves in anything other than Him and to surrender to becoming who He has created us to be.
We cannot manufacture that kind of life; it comes as we confess our need for Him and rely on His Holy Spirit to guide our hearts, minds and actions. The more we invite God to speak to our fears and tendencies, the more we will experience freedom and rest and be able to truly live as He intended.
To learn more about the Enneagram and how it relates to the Christian life, check out The Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heuertz or Self to Lose, Self to Find by Marilyn Vancil.
and her husband, Erik, have served with Cru for more than 20 years, 13 of them in Asia. They are currently raising their two third-culture kids and an imported dog in Orlando, Florida, where Gina serves in global leadership development at Cru headquarters. Her first book, Making Peace with Change: Navigating Life’s Messy Transitions with Honesty and Grace, helps readers be wholehearted and God-dependent in an ever-changing world. You can read more from her at her blog. She also loves to connect on Twitter and Facebook.
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