(This is the first in a series of blogs about the Enneagram, a self-awareness tool that can be used for profound insights about how to become more of the person God has created you to be.)
First Awareness – What is Your Center of Intelligence?
”I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil that I do not want to do… this I keep doing.” Romans 7:15, 18-19
Have you ever found yourself in agreement with these verses? I know I have often read these verses and resonated with what Paul wrote to the Romans. Earlier in my walk with Jesus, though, I felt stuck. I would read these verses and think, “So?”
When I discovered the self-awareness tool of the Enneagram, I was thrilled and sorrowful at the same time. Here was a self awareness tool that told me about the things I hate to do- people please, manipulate when not getting my way, and overextend myself at times, then get grumpy about it.
How did this tool know my insides so well? How did someone see through my protective coating? However, I was relieved to know there were others out there like me. Finally there was a pathway to transformation, with God’s help.
What is the Enneagram anyway?
The word Enneagram simply means “nine-drawing.” It describes 9 distinct ways you and I are held captive by habitual patterns, 9 underlying drives that influence why we feel, think, and act as we do, and 9 filters that determine how we react to our circumstances. Most importantly, it reveals 9 manifestations of God that each of us has been created to experience and express…and 9 ways we are held back from that.
Once we begin to understand the contributions and challenges of our particular styles, we can begin to move toward a deeper and more authentic spiritual, personal and relational life. As the scriptures tell us in Ephesians 4:22-24 we are to put off our “old self” with its deceitful desires and put on our “renewed self’ created to be like God.
The power of the Enneagram is how accurately it helps us discern the characteristics of our old self so we can work with God towards transformation more decisively, in the power of the Holy Spirit. We become free, our unique authentic selves, as He designed. I see it as both a self-awareness tool and a spiritual discernment tool.
Where to start?
The first awareness comes when you begin to notice how you react to your life. Everything I will be sharing with you comes from a Christ-centered lens. I believe in growing from the inside out, Jesus calls us to:
- Get planted – immerse ourselves in what He wants to say to each of us, using this tool….
- Get necessary ingredients for the journey – knowledge, discernment, being present, prayer, other people, time, compassion for yourself and others
- Keep growing and asking for what you need – from God, from yourself and from others
As you learn and grow through self-awareness of the Enneagram, remember seeds start in the dark. Growth takes time. Breaking of the seed coat takes the right conditions.
Our first stop along the journey will be in the Centers of Intelligence. Our reactions to life are typically governed by our Centers of Intelligence – our Heart, our Head and our Body. To the discover your point on the Enneagram, placing yourself in a primary Center of Intelligence can be a place to start.
Your Heart Center
Education and business in particular, discuss the importance of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence consists of understanding, knowing, acknowledging and expressing our emotions in healthy ways. Often people strong in the heart center are empathetic, effective and lead from the heart.
When you are strong from the Heart Center, encouragement, getting things done and/or creativity may rise to the top of how you see your world.
If you often say, “I feel….” you may find yourself more in the heart centered numbers of 2,3,4. You may find yourself at times feeling shame or guilt.
Your Head Center
In our culture, the head center has been emphasized as most important as the thinking intelligence. IQ has long a hallmark of success in schools and leadership. Head people have all the bases covered long-term, usually love to learn and can bring joy to many situations.
Head people may find themselves in research, seeing that all parts of things are secure or seeing many options to approach life.
As a Head Center person, you may find yourself saying, “I think…” which puts in you the head centered numbers of 5,6,7. You may find yourself experiencing worry or fear at times.
Your Body Center
Finally, the body center, although not often discussed, is that intuitive instinct people rely on from within their bodies. Much of what you sense around you comes to you through your body. People who are strong in this center often have a strong physical presence in the room, a strong sense of right and wrong.
As a body person, you may want to lead the cause, see that all is in harmony, or make sure that everything is done “just right”.
As a Body Center person, you may be saying, “My gut says” … which puts you in the body center numbers of 8,9,1. You may experience anger or frustration often in your body.
Question for you:
Of the three centers of intelligence, what do you say most often when asked to react to something? What experiences have you had?
Next week we will begin brief explorations of the Heart points on the Enneagram. I would love to know what Center you believe you react from. Or even if you react from all three? Just reply to this email.
I look forward to taking this journey with you!
Nancy Booth wants to create safe spaces for you, helping you find ways to have two-way conversations with God. She loves encouraging you to look for ways He is at work. Nancy is a spiritual director and writer. She would love to accompany you on your journey of discovery to hear and see more of the God who delights in you. Peace, hope and freedom could be yours Contact her today..
Those of you in the Madison, WI area, save the date, March 28th. The first in a series of three Growing From the Inside Out – The Enneagram workshops will be held. Watch for details!