As another year rolls into its final stage, many start to reflect more seriously about life in general, and maybe more specifically about their internal life. The term “New Year Resolution” brings frustrating memories to most of us. Shedding some extra kilos, deciding to be more loving towards our spouses and children, or promises of a deeper walk with God are good intentions, but we rarely succeed with them past the first few days of the New Year.
As believers we know the promises in God’s Word: A new life, a new heart, and a transformed mind. A conscience that works, and spiritual fruit that can change us into the nicest people on earth! Is that how you would describe your life? I did not think so. So we give up, with the exception of an occasional cry for help when we reach another low-point, “God, change me!”
Paul gives us some timely advice: “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us (Rom 12:3b MSG). Make a careful exploration of who you are… Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life (Gal &:4-5 MSG)”
Looks like God is expecting our active cooperation in this business of being changed into the likeness of his Son. And herein lies our greatest dilemma: in most of our western church-traditions we have not been trained and instructed in knowing how to do just that.
In many ways this has been a tough year for me, but in the midst of the desert I found a tool which may originate all the way back to the desert fathers and mothers in the first centuries of Christendom. I had heard of it before - the Enneagram - and I dismissed it without thinking twice. One look at that symbol convinced me it had to do something with New Age, or even worse, with the creators of the Pentagram!
This year I noticed some Christian leaders that I respect write about the Enneagram in a way that made me pause, and dare take another look. What I found was both shocking and delightful. You see, over the years I have probably taken most of the personality, and gift-finding tests out there, and even though they all have merit, none of them resounded in my heart as this mystical typing tool that has been around for thousands of years.
Through the Enneagram God has shown me that I am not exactly who I think I am, and it helped me see who I truly am and offered me words to describe how I would like to be transformed by God’s grace. The Enneagram gives us a different view of ourselves, our gifts, our motivations, and our behavior. It truly helps us see ourselves as God sees us, not in the backwards way we see ourselves.
While most personality evaluations seek to build you ego, the Enneagram does not - it can be encouraging and embarrassing at the same time. It helps to name what is often hidden to each person, and once named we can then seek transformation for the broken areas that manifest from our personality - mainly our adapted self. Some call it a microscope for the soul, and what you discover can be both frightening and inspiring. That is exactly where God meets us to let his Spirit and grace blow through the caverns of our souls to bring forth the changes we all long for.
Does that sound intriguing to you? Are you curious to find out more? You can do your own research, but watch out. The Enneagram has gained popularity in many circles, and is being used by some as a self-help tool with the absence of the redeeming power of a living and loving God. You can contact me personally and I will gladly share with you some tests and resources that can guide you on a journey that will lead you back to the self God had in mind when he created you.
Have a Blessed Christmas, and may this coming New Year find you hungry for more transformation!