I discovered The Enneagram in 1995, when my spiritual director suggested that it might help me better understand my approach to life, work, relationships, and spirituality. Understatement of the decade! Learning about and embracing my 7wing8-ness has been an ongoing journey of thrills and tears that eventually landed me here at Jesus People in the summer of 2019. Lots of numbing details could be delved into here, but I’ll spare you. Just to say that in the fall of 2018 God nudged me toward a new adventure (which we 7’s are all about!) of living in an intentional Christian community with 180 folks in Uptown Chicago.
In addition to their relevance to individuals and couples, Enneagram styles can also be used to identify organizational cultures. I had just retired from serving on the pastoral team of a “3” church here in Chicago and was now moving into a new organization with what felt like a very different EnneaCulture that I now identify as solidly “9”.
This manifests as a slower pace of life and work than I’ve been accustomed to, focusing less on immediate productivity and achievement and more on relationships and harmony. Also, many community members seem reluctant to engage in anything that even hints at conflict. Which means that it takes a while to honestly voice concerns and differences and a good bit longer to get issues resolved.
The good news is that I was whole-heartedly welcomed, albeit cautiously, which is fair given the energy level that seems to swirl around us 7’s. And I was offered numerous opportunities to facilitate EnneaTeam workshops with our mission business leadership teams (we have 15 of these!), as well as with couples and individuals. Starting with participants taking the online WEPSS test, followed with exploratory conversations, we spent significant time going deep with each person to help them identify and understand their dominant Enneagram style.
Fascinating and fun findings:
- Many many many of our members initially (before taking the WEPSS test) felt that they were 2’s. Seriously, a huge number of us! Which makes sense, since our community is built around the values of serving our neighbors and serving each other. Seems like we should all be 2’s, right?
- Turns out that many of those individuals are actually 4’s and 9’s. I need to add that most were relieved with this realization. And more often than not, a close friend or spouse would confirm the person’s “new” EnneaIdentity.
Many of our members have quite naturally gravitated toward roles and work within the community that make use of their unique EnneaStrengths:
- A prolific 1 in our Accounting Department
- Our 6 Food Services Director who, I am convinced, kept us all alive during Covid by utilizing her ability to see danger ahead and institute measures that kept us safe. And the other 6’s who help us troubleshoot and promote stability and safety.
- The 8’s who serve at our homeless shelter and powerfully advocate for our guests who are seeking stability and secure housing.
- The entrepreneurial 3’s who lead our productive and successful businesses.
- The 5’s who serve in various leadership roles and help us all by asking the important questions, seeking and analyzing data before we make impacting decisions, and, of course, creating order out of chaos via spreadsheets.
- A good crew of creative and compassionate 4’s who provide texture and heart to our community.
- Several of us 7’s who keep things hopping and moving forward, with verve and enthusiasm. Yes, we’re often the cheerleaders!
- The 9’s who deal diplomatically and gently with the stressed and anxious among us.
- And, the true 2’s, who are helpers in the best sense as they readily identify and address the needs that arise daily in community living.
So, what’s my point with all of this?
Just this: that having a community with all Enneagram styles present allows us to live and function as a large multi-faceted family also known as The Body of Christ. We’re all here and we all need each other.
Rev. Oreon Trickey is a seasoned pastor, spiritual director, and Enneagram consultant who lives at Jesus People and uses her expertise in these areas to help community members embrace their best selves as they serve together in the Uptown neighborhood.