Questions for Further Study
Here is a link to “The Greatest Temptation of All” – Part 1 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- I gave a very basic one-sentence description of each Enneagram type. Did any of them sound familiar to you? If so, which one? And why?
- I described three “centers of intelligence,” or three basic ways we seem to view and do our lives—from the heart (twos/threes/fours), from the head (fives/sixes/sevens), and from the gut (eights/nines/ones). Which of the three “triads” do you sense may be your primary way to enter into the world?
- I suggested that every Enneagram type has a kind of “superpower” that serves some need in the world. But I also said that each superpower comes with its own “kryptonite” that can cripple us if we are not attentive to it. What does that mean to you? Where have you seen this to be true?
- In looking at the temptations of Jesus, Henri Nowen has suggested that His greatest temptation is ours as well: forgetting who we were made to be! Do you agree? Why or why not?
- In my message I connected each of the three temptations of Jesus to one of the three Enneagram triads.
- For example: Stones to bread=Head Triad (unconscious motivation of fear/scarcity);
- Nations bowing down=Gut Triad (unconscious motivation of anger/need for control);
- Jumping from temple=Heart Triad (unconscious motivation of shame/need to project image).
How does this observation impact your hearing of Hebrews 4:15?(For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.)
Here is a link to “Twos” – Part 2 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- Based on Suzanne’s description of Enneagram Twos, what individuals in your life come to mind? What do they do to make you think they may be a Two?
- Twos tend to be experts at recognizing and meeting the needs of those around them, often at the expense of recognizing their own needs. Sounds selfless and noble, right? But how could this trait actually create more problems for Twos and others in their lives?
- Of all the Biblical characters who might demonstrate “Two behavior,” I suggested Martha was a prime example. She was “worried and distracted” with what she thought was worthy and needed work—even at the expense of tending to her own need to “choose the better thing,” as Mary did. Question: How can “humble service” sometimes masquerade as pride?
- In reflecting on the story of Martha, Suzanne said, “Sometimes we can think we are serving the Lord when actually we aren’t.” What do you think about that statement? How does this truth play out in your own life?
- The wounding message that Twos carry within is “It’s not ok to have your own needs.”
The healing message Twos need to hear is “You are wanted.”
Do you have any Twos in your life? How might you offer them the gift of hearing the healing message that they are wanted–regardless of what they can DO for others?
Here is a link to “Threes” – Part 3 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- 1. On the Enneagram, Threes are known as The Achievers. They are highly capable and competent. They set goals and achieve them. They climb to the top of whatever ladder is in front of them. They are driven to succeed at whatever task they tackle. Who does this sound like in your life?
2. While the superpower of a Three is this drive to succeed, this super power comes with a “kryptonite” that can cripple them. The Kryptonite is the “deadly sin” of deceit. Not that Threes are necessarily liars…but rather, they are so good at “shape-shifting” and positioning themselves in order to win, they often deceive themselves about who they really are and what they really feel. Question: If gone unchecked, what impact would this pattern have on a Three?
3. The Biblical character we studied on Sunday was the “Rich, Young, Ruler.” He runs up to Jesus and asks the ultimate Three-question: “What must I do…” In the sermon, I said, “Threes may have the hardest time of all remembering that we were created to be human BEINGS, and not just human DOINGS.” Why is this a struggle for Threes?
4. We usually relate this Biblical story to wealth or materialism. But what if it’s not? Jesus told him the one thing he lacks is to sell it all…to rid himself of all trophies and evidences of his success. We are told he then walks away sad. Looking at this story through the lens of the Enneagram, how do you read this part of the story?
5. The wounding message that Threes carry within is ” It’s not okay to have your own feelings and your own identity.” The healing message Threes need to hear is “You are loved for yourself (for who you are and not for what you do).” Do you have any Threes in your life? How might you offer them the gift of hearing the healing message that they are loved for WHO they are, and not what they do?
Here is a link to “Fours” – Part 4 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- On the Enneagram, the Four is known as “The Individualist” or “The Romantic.” These folks are drawn to the dramatic/creative/expressive in life. They pride themselves in being unique. They are capable (and comfortable) with the full range of human emotion. Their highs are high, and their lows are low. And they make the world better by knowing how to see and embrace both the beautiful and the tragic in life. Does this sound like anyone you know? Who? And Why?
- While the superpower of a Four is to embrace the full range of human emotion, and to “feel” deeply, this super power comes with a “kryptonite” that can cripple them. The Kryptonite is the “deadly sin” of envy. Fours can carry a deep belief that they are missing something that others have. They struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out). This can cause them to get “stuck” in their emotions, and never fully experience the joy of the present.
Question: If gone unchecked, what impact would this pattern have on a Four?
- The Biblical character we studied on Sunday was “King Saul.” Though there were none like him in all the land, he slips into a deep despair when “better” songs were written about young David. In the sermon I said that fours can be “vexed by other peoples’ songs.”
What did I mean by that? In what ways have you struggled with envy over someone else’s blessings? In what way have you ever been “vexed by other peoples’ songs?”
- The wounding message that Fours carry within is: It’s not ok to be too functional or happy. (Because they believe the world is too complicated to be happy. Something is going to go wrong sooner or later.) Question: Have you ever struggled to be truly happy with the present, out of fear that the happiness will soon “run out?” How might a person with this struggle learn to release such a fear?
- The healing message for Fours is: You are seen for who you are. In my interview with Jackson, he said there is a difference between “I love you for who you are.” and “I love WHO you are.” What did he mean? Do you agree? How can someone learn to see behind another’s persona, to love WHO they are? What would that look like in your own life?
Here is a link to “Fives” – Part 5 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- On the Enneagram, the Five is known as “The Investigator” or “The Observer.” They are driven by a need to perceive or fully understand their world. They are experts at gathering information/data/facts/trivia. They are logical/analytical information junkies. They are who you want at your team on trivia night! Does this sound like anyone you know? Who? And Why?
- While the superpower of a Five is to is the capacity to gather and store all kinds of data, their Kryptonite can be that they often struggle with getting “stuck in their heads.” How would you imagine this to be a challenge in relationships?
- The deadly sin or passion for Fives is “Avarice,” which means “greed.” Different than simply being stingy with things, Fives can become greedy with information, energy, and time, out of a fear they will run out. How do you measure the sharing of your energy and time with others? Do you ever think about it? Is it something that ever crosses your mind? At the end of the day, do still have anything left in the tank? Fours are unconsciously measuring their energy tank all the time. How does this reality impact how you see the Fives in your life?
- The Biblical character we studied on Sunday was the “Nicodemus.” He had all the knowledge that could be gathered, yet was still could not understand. His challenge was the challenge of all Fives: the 18 inch faith journey from the head to the heart. In the sermon I said, all real spiritual growth requires first an “unlearning.” What does that mean to you? What have you had to “unlearn” before growing in Christ? What must you “unlearn” still?
- Discuss the following Quote by Suzanne Stabile: “Information is not Knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom.” If this is true, what will it require on the part of a Five to move from information to knowledge and true wisdom? What will it take for YOU to do the same?
Here is a link to “Sixes” – Part 6 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- On the Enneagram, the Six is known as “The Loyalist.” Sixes will have your back, no matter what. But, they are driven by a deep fear or anxiety about the future. They play the devil’s advocate much of the time, constantly worried about what could happen. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious-running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. Does this description sound like anyone you know?
- In my message, I described two kinds of sixes: Phobic (managing their fear by trusting authority and submitting to it loyally), and Counter-Phobic (managing their fear by projecting it onto others and using fear to manipulate and take control). Where can you see either of these tendencies in either yourself or the world?
- If it is true that there are more Sixes in the world than any other number on the enneagram, how does that reality shape our understanding of how extremely polarized and suspicious we are of one another in our nation and world?
- In our message, we looked at Peter as an example of someone with the characteristics of a “Six.” What observation stood out the most to you? Do you see any of Peter’s tendencies in yourself, or in someone you love? Can you think of any other biblical characters who demonstrate “Six” energies?
- The healing message for a six is “You are safe.” The dominant message of reassurance all throughout the Bible, “Do not be afraid,” occurs some 365 times (one for each day of the year.) In the message, we described a few ways to reinforce this healing message with the Six in your life. What can you do to love the Six in your life more fully? If you are a Six, help your group out. Let them know what you need.
Here is a link to “Sevens” – Part 7 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- On the Enneagram, the Seven is known as the “Enthusiast.” They are the life of the party. They are full of life and energy and always ready for the next adventure. Sevens are “glass-half-full” kind of people, who always see the silver lining in any cloud. Does this description sound like anyone you know? Who? Take a moment to list the ways their Seven-ness brings life and joy and beauty to your relationship.
- In my message, I suggested that Sevens are driven by a need to avoid pain at all costs. Their deadly sin is gluttony-the insatiable hunger to fill emptiness or cover pain with more and more pleasure. How can this kind of behavior “mask” someone’s journey for true spiritual transformation?
- One of the greatest misunderstandings about Sevens is that they are only capable of “surface-level” relationships–the consummate “Peter Pan” never wanting to grow up. If you are a Seven, what do you think about this misunderstanding? Have you found this to be true in your relationships? Why or why not? If you have a Seven in your life, what would it take (on your part) to create a space where they feel safe going deeper?
- In our message, we looked at King David as an example of someone with the characteristics of a “Seven.” Not only in his most famously known story, battling Goliath, but also in his most tragic moment with Bathsheba. What observation stood out the most to you? Do you see any of David’s tendencies in yourself, or in someone you love? How does the Seven’s tendency to “re-frame” negative circumstances (so that they don’t seem so bad) play out in David’s life? How does this tendency play out in your own life, or in the life of a Seven you love?
- Sevens carry around the wounding message, “you are on your own.” How do you think this message results in a Seven’s engrained patterns of behavior? Likewise, if the healing message for Sevens is “you will be taken care of,” how would it change anything for Sevens? How would hearing this message enable a Seven to better face the realities of pain and struggle in their lives? If you are a Seven, how does your understanding of the sufferings of Christ impact your journey to real transformation? If you know a Seven, how does your understanding of the sufferings of Christ impact how you offer your love to them?
Here is a link to “Eights” – Part 8 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- On the Enneagram, the Eight is known as the “Challenger.” They fill the room with their presence, their energy, and their opinion. They have no problem letting you know where they stand, and can be “in your face” with their outspoken opinion. They have a need to be “against” or to challenge oppressors or rule-breakers. They have a strong sense of justice, and will fight fiercely, when injustice committed. They are ardent advocates for the marginalized and oppressed. Does this description sound like anyone you know? Who? Take a moment to list the ways their qualities brings strength and confidence to your relationship.
- The deadly sin for Eights is lust—a desire for control or power. In my message, however, I suggested that despite the energy they exude, Eights don’t really want to control others. Instead, they simply don’t want TO BE controlled BY others. So, they fill the space with their energy.
How can this kind of behavior threaten the health of relationships?
- As children, Eights picked up the message that only the strong survive, and that being vulnerable was a weakness that could be exploited. How might our belief in the One who was crucified and raised help to reshape old definitions of “weakness” and “true power?”
- In my message, we looked at several figures who demonstrated “Eight energies.” We looked at Nathan, Deborah, Shiprah and Puah, Vashti, and mostly, Samson. What observation stood out the most to you? Do you see any of the patterns and tendencies of these Biblical characters in yourself, or in someone you love?
- Eights carry around the wounding message, “it’s not ok to be vulnerable or trust anyone.” How do you think this message results in an Eight’s engrained patterns of behavior? Likewise, if the healing message for Eights is “you will not be betrayed,” how does the message of the Cross demonstrate this truth? What needs to happen for an Eight to actually believe this good news?
Here is a link to “Eights” – Part 9 of Me, Myself and Why. If you are gathering with friends or family, share this link, and toss out one or two of these questions for discussion…
- On the Enneagram, the Nine is known as the “Peacemaker.” They are easy going, stable, trustworthy and reliable. They have an uncanny ability to see all sides of an issue. Located at the top of Enneagram, they have a vantage point to see life through the eyes of all other types. This ability creates quite a super power in resolving conflict. Does this description sound like anyone you know? Who? Take a moment to list the ways their qualities bring perspective and peace to your relationships.
- The deadly sin for Nines is sloth-a desire to avoid being affected by life. In my message, however, I suggested that in order to avoid conflict, Nines will self-erase. They will either disappear (withdraw), or they will merge their opinions or desires with those around them. As compliant as this behavior may seem, how could it actually impact relationships negatively?
- As children, Nines picked up the message that it is not ok to assert yourself. This wounding message compels the Nine to avoid being fully present. How could faith in Christ (the God who became fully present) empower Nines to hear and receive their healing message: “Your presence matters.”?
- In my message, we looked at Abram and several episodes in his life as prime examples of Nine energy. What observation stood out the most to you? Do you see any of the patterns and tendencies Abram’s behavior in yourself, or in someone you love?
- Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Based on what you have learned about Enneagram Nines, what are the greatest strengths we could all learn to embrace from these peacemakers?
You were born because God thought you were a good idea.
You–with all your strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and idiosyncrasies.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made—in the holy image of God.
(And, for what it’s worth–you still are.)
Live long enough, however, and you begin to wonder.
If I am so fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s own image, then why do I do the things I do?
Why do I keep falling into the same traps, repeating the same self-defeating patterns of behavior?
When asked what was the greatest of all commandments, Jesus said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-38)
But what do you do when engrained patterns of behavior get in the way of even your best efforts to love God, love others, or even love yourself?
For millions of Christians throughout the ages, one powerful tool in understanding our own behaviors and hidden motivations is the study of the Enneagram.
The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system–but it is far more than that.
It is a lens through which to observe your own life, and in the light of nonjudgmental self-observation, recognize the engrained patterns that keep us from living freely and loving fully, as God intended.
For this pastor, I can say with confidence that no other resource outside sacred scripture has been as fruitful in my own spiritual journey with Christ and in my personal relationships with family and friends as the Enneagram.
That is why, beginning Sunday, February 2nd, I will begin a new sermon series entitled “Me, Myself, and Why?” Each week we will look at individuals within the Bible who seem to embody the strengths and weaknesses of each particular Enneagram number. We will consider the particular wounding messages that we carry around with us, and proclaim the healing message each number needs to hear in order to live freely and love fully, as God intended.