Last week at annual conference, (where the laity and clergy of Missouri come together for a time of learning, worship, business and commissioning and ordination of people that have completed their stepS), I attended a day of learning on the Enneagram.

What's the point?  It's simply that relationships and knowing ourselves is complicated and the enneagram, which incorporates spirituality into the definition below, can help us in our relationships and just as important, our connection to God. The Enneagram symbol and short descriptions of the numbers are below. 

Type One is principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic. Type Two is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive. Type Three is adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious. Type Four is expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental. Type Five is perceptive, innovative, secretive, and provocative. Type Six is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious. Type Seven is spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered. Type Eight is self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational. Type Nine is receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent.

The Enneagram Academy gives the definition as "The Enneagram symbol, a nine-pointed diagram (ennea is the Greek word for 'nine'), has its origins in many different traditions. In the last four decades it has been combined with modern psychology, evolving to describe the nine fundamental personality types of human nature. The modern Enneagram is a condensation of universal wisdom, commonsense philosophy and psychology which provides extraordinary insights into human behavior, particularly our own. The primary goal and purpose of the Enneagram is self knowledge; its ancillary benefit is that it allows us to understand the behavior of others, and with that understanding, to be more accepting and compassionate."

There are also what are called "wings" that point to how your number may lean into another during times of stress or security. They have the ability to impact your behavior. While there are tests for the Enneagram, they are mixed feelings if you can truly find your type via a test. Discovering your type takes reading and reflection. You can see that will taking a test, it may be capturing you in a time of stress and you are displaying a "wing" instead of your true type. 

My wife, Molly is a certified trainer in the Enneagram so it was fun to go and learn more about it and see her excitement as the learning and discussions happened. Molly says on her Rooted Living Site that:
"The enneagram provides a lens for individuals to understand how they interact in the world. The enneagram helps us understand three basic questions: Who am I?, What am I doing here?, Why do I do what I do?"

I have known and read about the Enneagram for several year and I am still switching between two types a 5 and an 8. I have not yet come to a conclusion yet. 

No type is better than the other. They all have their assets and liabilities. There were many "Ah Ha" moments for people in the worship that it was fun to watch and listen. 

If you are interested in learning more I would recommend any book By Susan Stable. "The Road Back to You" is a good place to start. If you would be interested in have a small group in the fall on this topic let me know. I know Molly would love to do a small group series on the topic and I think you would find it valuable too. 

Posted by Keith Vessell

Keith is an active clergy member of the United Methodist Church and a licensed social worker. He is also certified in Project Management by the State of Missouri. These tools come together such that Keith can provide a unique experience for leading a congregation.

Keith is a natural leader who knows the right questions and the right time to listen. Keith has a passion for the marginalized in our society. Loving without boundaries and to those that make us uncomfortable is something you will continually here from him. Keith holds God's grace at the top of his theology. It overcomes all things. His pronouns are He/His. 

Keith and his wife Molly, also a United Methodist Pastor, live in Marshall where they are serving in ministry, corralling their pets and making their children’s eyes roll. When not working, Keith enjoys keeping up with the latest music releases and rooting for Cardinal Baseball. Sorry KC fans. 

Most of all, Keith wants to building relationships. He wants to get to know people beyond the "hello in the hallway."

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