New Series: The Enneagram and Faith

Years ago, I read the book If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg and felt inspired to change the world. I wanted to be a water-walker, take bold risks, step out in faith, and do things only possible through God's power.

The book was like a pep rally, revving me up about all that was possible. Just like Peter, I wanted to be better than all those other disciples. Those guys who were so busy quivering in the corner that they missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime. Who would want to be like them?

The problem was, and is, I am like them. My personality is much closer to that of Matthew or John than that of Peter. So though I felt inspired, nothing much changed. Except maybe the weight on my shoulders, as the better and bolder things I should be doing stacked on top of the other "shoulds" I already carried. 

This often seems to be the case with Christian discipleship books, and many other spirituality and self-help books for that matter. People have experiences that are meaningful to them, and translate them into an experience that would be meaningful to everyone. 

We too easily forget how our personality differences lead to beautiful distinctions in how we experience life and faith. 


The enneagram is an ancient tool for understanding ourselves and others. It defines nine core personality types, with several variances according to our wing (the personality type adjacent to ours on the diagram with which we most identify), our subtype (our instinctual social, intimate, or self-preservation mode of operating), and our unique way of holding the other types besides our own within us. It asks us to embrace both our gifts and our shadow side, hopefully bringing us to a healthier perspective of ourselves and the world.

The enneagram allows us to simultaneously say, "Wow, I'm so special!" and "Phew, I'm not the only one!" 

Not only does the enneagram define nine types, it also divides those types into three centers. These centers are the ways we tend to approach decisions: the gut (our body and instincts), heart (our emotions and relationships), and head (our thinking and reason). Good decisions involve all three centers to some extent, but we each have a tendency to default to one or two above the other(s). 


The disciple Peter seems to be a gut-center guy. He steps out of the boat and walks on water, but he also runs away to protect himself when the going gets rough. He confidently preaches a sermon to a huge crowd at Pentecost, but he also is the only disciple called satan for reprimanding Jesus. Peter is a mixed bag of boldness and impulsivity.

Like the rest of humanity, Peter is also both unique and not the only one like himself. When we look at Peter, we may feel like we are looking in a mirror or we may feel like we are looking at an alien. 

Those who feel like Peter is an alien might relate more with another disciples. Though Peter, a gut-center guy, was the only one to get out of the boat, John, a heart-center guy, was the only one to stick with Jesus when he was arrested. Though Matthew, a head-center guy, did neither of those things, he wrote the Gospel with many more Old Testament connections than the other three.

Each disciple had an important contribution, just like we do. The boldness of Peter, love of John, and intelligence of Matthew rarely combine in one person. 

You don't have be all things to all people at all times. You can learn from each disciple, but you don't need to look at their lives and heap "shoulds" upon your already burdened shoulders.

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde

The disciples were individuals. You can be too. In life and in faith, give yourself the grace of being you.


In the beginning of July, I went through the enneagram training and certification program and launched the enneagram coaching part of my business. Today I launch a regular series on the enneagram and faith, looking for the ways viewing Scripture and life through the enneagram lens can open our eyes to grace, love, and growth.

To celebrate this launch, I'm giving away a free individual or couples enneagram coaching session! I can help you determine your type and/or move towards health, in yourself and in your relationships.

There are 3 ways to enter: 1. Comment on this post. 2. Share this post on social media. 3. Share my enneagram coaching page on social media. You can enter in any or all of the ways. Each way gives you one more chance to win. If you share on social media, make sure to tag @everydayawe on Twitter or Instagram or https://www.facebook.com/everydayawe on Facebook.

This give away closes August 5, 2015. Winner will be chosen at random, and notified by email or social media, depending on how the entry was made.

Good luck and thanks for sharing!

Look at these treasures! I love them!

My son lost himself in the quest, not noticing how much time was slipping away as the sun lowered on the horizon. 

While others were busy swimming or laying on the dock, enjoying the goodness of July temperatures in the north, he was looking down. My son's eyes were scanning the bottom of the lake, searching for the perfect rocks to add to his collection. 

When he asked me to help, I instictively asked why he wasn't collecting shells instead. "Look at this one," I observed, "It has such a lovely swirl and beautiful coloring." He looked up for a moment, uninterested but respectful, and told me we were looking for rocks. 

"Look at this one!" He yelled, as he lifted a stone the size of his fist from the bottom. It was gray, and rough, nothing spectacular in my opinion.  

"Wow," I responded, only half-looking at the ordinary piece of rubble he was turning over in his fingers. 

"Isn't it great!" He exclaimed, with his typical enthusiasm, "It's perfect for my collection!" 

As I kept scouring the bottom for one rock I deemed worthy of the word, "beautiful," he continued to pick up stone after stone, declaring them perfect. 

I stuck with him for a few more minutes of searching, finding two rocks I thought were good enough to collect. He kept at it much longer, delighting in the process as much as the outcome. 

At the end of the day, my son marched his bag of run-of-the-mill stones through the house and declared them to be a treasure he loved as much as Cam Bear, his most beloved stuffed animal.

These rocks were valuable to him because he declared them to be so. He loved them becasue he delighted in his search for them. He loved them because he found joy in their very existence. He loved them because of their similarities and distinctions, their smooth spots and sharp edges, their lightness and their weight. 

In his innocence, he adored them for being exactly the way they were, and he declared them to be his treasures.

Oh, how much children have to teach us.

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"He set me down in a safe place; He saved me to His delight; He took joy in me." - Psalm 18:19 (The Voice)

God delights in you. God delights in me. God delights in us.

God does not love us with an obligatory and dry, "I guess I should love them because they are my family" kind of love. God does not love us with a conditional, "I guess I should love them because they are beautiful and special and hardworking" kind of love.

No. 

God loves us with delight. He takes joy in our very existence.  

He shouts about us to the cosmos with the innocent glee of a small child, "Look at these treasures! I love them!" 

Could it be?

could it be?

Could it be that God still speaks from time to time?

Could it be that though the Divine can seem silent when the world screams with pain, perhaps there is more going on than we can hear?

Could it be that an infinite God, a fractured world, and a breathtaking people blend into confusing patterns of Presence and Absence? Could it be that this is part of the wonder of living as a human being?

Could it be that it wasn't just my voice I heard in my head as I walked along in prayer? Could it have been the actual voice of an actual God, telling me I was not alone? Could it be that if I suspend my disbelief for just a little while, I might laugh with the joy of delight?

Could it be that I do not have to understand God's engagement with the world in order to experience God's care for me? Could it be that God's presence can be ridiculously obvious when I am aware enough to notice?

Could it be that Jesus is asking me, "What do you want me to do for you?" just as He asked blind Bartimaeus? Could it be that God wants me to know the answer to that question so I can hear the invitation in it to live more fully? Could it be that this is what God's calling on our lives is really all about?

Could it be that God still speaks from time to time?

Could it be that the answer is yes for me?

Could it be that the answer is yes for you?