Why is the Enneagram taking off in popularity today?
If you aren’t familiar with the tool, it is a tool that has been used to help people grow toward maturity in Christ for millennia as the popular history tells it. I’d say it has really become popular in the last 15 years or so. I wouldn’t mind if it become very popular… if it is used properly. Why so popular?
1. The view of discipleship is shifting from merely teaching people information to helping people grow in character.
This means that our methods of discipling people must shift from delivering information for memorization. We must now learn about how our hearts work and why we act the way we do. The Enneagram is a tool that can help us by identifying not only the ways we relate with others, but also give insight to what motivates us to relate the way we do.
As the church moves away from the metaphor of mass production, she moves away from the tendency to stamp people into a mold. The Enneagram recognizes and embraces the individual. This allows for a more focused and personalized journey toward Christlikeness. This isn’t valuable because the tool permits us to ply our religious goods and services more. No, our interest isn’t to appeal to the consumeristic tendencies. We like discipleship processes that embrace us as unique people and whose aim is not conformity, but the fullness of “me” in all the ways God intended.
2. As a discipleship tool, the Enneagram can gently address things we don’t really want to learn about ourselves.
To call someone “bossy” can meet with much resistance since it can put people on the defensive. However, it is more acceptable to offer, “Eights are described as people who know what needs doing, and are good at telling people what that is. Does this resonate with you?” Using the Enneagram can depersonalize these conversations allowing reflection and discussion.
3. The tool is powerful.
I say often, “All models are wrong, but some are helpful.” The Enneagram is great and helpful. It has an uncanny ability to give language to why people act the way they do. More specifically, it has given me fresh insight into why I act the way I do. At a minimum, I get to reflect on how gifted observers of the human soul have noticed how people like me act.
4. The Enneagram gives us tremendous insight on how to relate with others.
Not because I now know what motivates people and I can take advantage of that. No. Instead, I am now equipped to better love and serve others because I am aware what sorts of things are important to them. I have a better understanding of our respective tendencies. I can check for understanding. And I can help reduce misunderstandings. The knowledge is only general and imperfect, but remarkably useful.
If you have not heard of the Enneagram, I’d recommend reading “The Road Back to You,” by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile. It is a good, balanced introduction of the various approaches toward the tool. You can also take the test to help you settle on your type. I’d recommend taking it at the Enneagram Institute: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com.
Have you found the tool useful? Why do you like it? Comment below.
We can probably offer a list of things to be cautious about as well, but that may be a post for the future.