By Kelly Wright
Personality has intrigued me most of my life. All the characteristics that make up who we are – how we think, feel, and behave, have been a passion of mine for a very long time. It’s one of the reasons I went into counseling and loved my theories of personality classes.
Personality looks at what makes you uniquely you, but also what makes you like others.
The quest to understand personality began as early as 4th century BC with Plato with his four categories of personality: Artisans, Guardians, Idealists, and Rationals.
Throughout the ages since then, personality has been explored, but in the last 100 years, the quest to understand what makes us tick has taken off exponentially.
Why explore personality?
God created us both inside and out. In Genesis, we read that we are created in God’s image. This not only means in our physical being, but our whole being. We are created to reflect God’s personality.
In Psalm 139, David writes, “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!”
God shapes us first inside, then out. He forms us in our entirety. Body and soul, I am marvelously made.
As Christians explore their personality, it is critical to build upon the foundation that our identity is in Christ. In his book, The Enneagram for Spiritual Formation, AJ Sherrill uses the illustration of a tree to help connect our identity and personality. Like the roots of a tree, an image of a tree, our identity is a beloved child of God. Out of the roots come the tree trunk, which is our personality. From there, we bring our gifts and fruits into the world.
As a Christ follower, self-knowledge is a spiritual discipline that reveals how God uniquely created us as a reflection of Him.
Today there are so many tools to help us learn more about self and our personality.
Because they are so popular, you’ve most likely taken at least one of the many personality tests or quizzes out there.
Do you remember your results?
According to a few of the various quizzes I’ve taken I’m Gold (True Colors), Lion (Animals), ISFJ (Meyers Briggs).
As a counselor, knowing about a client’s personality was helpful. I would encourage these various tools for self-discovery. That was until I was introduced to the Enneagram in 2010.
From that point until today, I truly believe the Enneagram is the most helpful tool to explore and understand personality.
Now at first, I was put off by the weird looking symbol and the weird name. But after studying and exploring it further, I haven’t found a more helpful tool for self-awareness and self-knowledge.
The Enneagram is Greek meaning nine points, reflecting the nine basic personality types with many subtypes and variations. As a tool, it has been described as a mirror, revealing deeper and deeper who you truly are.
The Enneagram isn’t intended to label you or put you in a box. As a tool, it helps us see both the healthy attributes of personality, as well as the areas of growth.
For example, if you are a One on the Enneagram – The Good Person – you reflect God’s goodness and value living life the right way. You are organized and seek to make the world a better place to live. One’s grow by finding productive ways to live out these healthy attributes within themselves, at home and work.
An area of growth for a One would be to embrace their frustrations of living in the fallen world where life will never feel good enough or perfect.
The Enneagram also helps us see the average and unhealthy attributes of our personality, never to condemn, but more for awareness.
For instance, I’m an Eight – the Powerful Person. The unhealthy attribute of an Eight is believing their way is the only way. When I fight for my way, I am not open to other options. I need to recognize this unhealthy mindset and move towards the healthy side of my number, which is compassion and understanding.
Most times, the unhealthy aspects of our personality wear us out.
What part of your personality is life-taking?
Here are the numbers with both the healthy attributes and the struggles each number faces:
1 – The Good Person – Struggle with critical inner voice and the anger of all that’s wrong with the world
2 – The Loving Person – Struggle with the desire to be the one you reach out to for help because no one can help you like they can
3 – The Effective Person – Struggle with conditional acceptance and the temptation to deceive themselves when they experience failure
4 – The Original Person – Struggle with the desire to be a ‘one of a kind’ and the envy that comes with seeing everyone else as special
5 – The Wise Person – Struggle with the greed of sharing their insights and themselves with others for fear of not knowing all they want to know
6 – The Loyal Person – Struggle with the fear of not being safe physically and emotionally
7 – The Joyful Person – Struggle with endless desire for fun and adventure leading to gluttony for more of all that life has to offer
8 – The Powerful Person – Struggle with the lust for power and control – My way or the highway
9 – The Peaceful Person – Struggle with inertia that leads to sloth
If you’d like to explore the Enneagram more, here are a few great options: