Most days I feel like my brain has two sides. On one side is math, which causes me to be very analytical and see things very black and white. And on the other side is psychology, which gives me a love for people and a desire to understand people’s thought processes, what drives them, and how they interact with other people. So because of this split brain I have, in college I majored in math and minored in psychology. And in my life currently, I’m feeling this tension of wanting to be ok with the gray (as my counselor put it) and being really interested in this personality test my friend and future LA roomie encouraged me to take. Many (if not most) personality tests tend to put people in a box, saying you are X personality type which means you are not Y or Z (thus furthering my black-and-white thinking). But this particular personality test, the enneagram, takes into account the fluidity of our personalities and allows us to grow into the best person we can be while valuing the person God created us to be.
Because of my love for psychology and how people operate, and because of my time spent working in ministry, I have grown a love for personality tests (I find them so fascinating!). I think personality tests are really good for understanding yourself and how you interact with people and the world around you; they’re good for understanding other people and how they best communicate and interact with the world; and they’re good for learning how to work on a team.
– Working for a college ministry means working on a team of sinful, broken people, and understanding ourselves and each other can really help us work better as a team in order to help further God’s Kingdom on our campuses. As the Church, the body of Christ, we were all created equal, but we were not created the same. God’s design for His Church was for us to essentially fill in the gaps for each otherwhere one person is not great in a particular area, God created someone else who is to step in and help. We don’t all possess every single spiritual gift for the purpose of us coming together to help each other and work together as a team, a united body.
My first introduction to personality tests was probably the Myers-Briggs. (In case you’re wondering, I’m an ENTJ.) I took the test as part of one of my psychology classes in college. But recently, the enneagram test is all my friends can talk about, so naturally I wanted to be included in the conversation. So I took the test! But before I talk about which number I am, I want to give you a little more information about the enneagram.
The definition of the word enneagram is “a nine-sided figure used in a particular system of analysis to represent the spectrum of possible personality types.”
In the podcast series “The Road Back to You” hosts Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile talk about each enneagram number, characteristics that are true of each, and they interview people who identify with that number. On their introductory episode they said, “The enneagram is nine ways of seeing, nine ways of being, nine ways of responding to what you see…It’s spiritual wisdom that offers us a new way of seeing ourselves and others, that creates understanding and curiosity and care.” They also address the common thought that personality tests are just tools to put people in boxes: “The enneagram is saying, ‘You are not your label. You are not your personality. You are not your number. Actually, you are an infinitely more mysterious, beautiful, complex human being, who for too long has identified yourself with your personality instead of with the image of God– the unique expression of God that you are to the world– that is waiting to emerge out from the mask of your personality.” The whole purpose of the enneagram is to allow you to grow as a person so you can better understand yourself and the world around you in order to better interact with people and the world.
So you may be asking yourself, “When is she going to talk about what number she is?” Well I’m glad you asked! I’m a 6, which is named “The Loyalist.” Some characteristics of 6s are worst-case-scenario thinking, thinking about what ifs, rehearsing and practicing in their minds, constant preparation in their minds, and ambivalence or self-doubt (can you see any of these characteristics displayed in my writing?). Sixes desire security, hence my idols of control, comfort, and ease. And a fun fact about 6s is that they are believed to account for about 50% of the world’s population. Ian and Suzanne put it this way, “They are fearful people. The fear they feel is closer to anxiety…They are notorious for playing out and rehearsing in their minds worst case scenarios as a way of preparing themselves for what they perceive to be the ever-present possibility of danger or a disaster happening at any moment…They’re always scanning around to figure out if what they’re dealing with is friendly or hostile.” They say 6s are also prone to pessimism, but are “possibly the funniest number on the enneagram because they can leverage all that insecurity and paranoia to make you laugh at them.”
After I took the test and read and listened (to podcasts) about my number, I felt so understood, like someone had opened up my heart and mind and put into words a description of myself that I never could have come up with on my own. But the great thing about the enneagram test is that it leaves room for the fluidity of our personalities–I primarily identify as a 6, but that doesn’t mean I have 100% of the characteristics of 6s, nor does it mean I don’t possess any characteristics of another number. It also doesn’t mean I am exactly like every other 6 in the world (thank goodness because that would mean I’m just like 50% of the world!). Ian, who is a 4, put it this way, “Not everyone of a particular number is the same…There’s an infinite variety of 4s, but they’re all 4s.” And Suzanne said this, “While we share these things in common, we express them in different ways.” They also list a few things that factor into a particular number being different from another person of the same number: age, life experience, introvert vs. extravert, and birth order, among other things.
So now you have all this information and you don’t know what to do with it. Well, I’m here to help!
- Take the test! (Enneagram Test)
- Read about your number (Type Descriptions)
- Listen to this podcast (The Liturgists–The Enneagram (Episode 37))
- Share in the comments what number you are
- Tell all your friends to find out their numbers too!
I only covered a fraction of the information out there about the enneagram test, so if you would like to learn more check out the “The Road Back to You” podcast (The Road Back to You). Or there are books you can read about the enneagram (one of them being The Road Back to You).