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!