By Jonathan Hall
By this point, I have begun to assume that most people are at least somewhat familiar with the Enneagram, if not full-on fanatics.
My relationship with the popular personality type system has seen its share of triumph and confusion over the past three or so years that I have known about it, with my first true breakthrough coming just recently. Thanks to my Spiritual Formation course at McAfee School of Theology this semester, I have learned more about myself in terms of the Enneagram than ever before, and I feel a whole new self has been discovered inside of me. Of course, that self has been here all along, but it sure is exciting to truly begin to meet and understand the person God made me to be all along.
During the first semester of Spiritual Formation, one of our main points was to discover our Meyers-Briggs Personality type (I’m an ENFP) and learn how our type affected our personal spirituality, as well as our ability to minister to others going forward. I learned a lot, but I was also curious about my Enneagram type, and hoped that the next semester would focus on it instead. Thankfully, my hope came true as we have spent most of our time reading and discussing The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. I highly recommend it if you have not yet read it.
Some quick background on my personal Enneagram journey: when I first heard about the Enneagram, I was working summer camp alongside people who had already done their fair share of studying the system of arranging personality types.
Feeling like I needed to catch up quickly, I decided to take an online quiz that would determine what type I registered as on the diagram. (I would not recommend this. Read the book instead!)
I tested as a Type Two, known as “The Helper,” and figured that was that. After all, any good Christian should be primarily identified as helpers, right? Nobody at camp who I told I’d tested as a Two seemed to question me. We were working camp, after all, where helping each other is the name of the game.
When I arrived back on campus that fall after a summer of helping, I proudly announced to my friends who also had supposedly done their Enneagram research that I was a Two. With puzzled looks on their faces, they quickly dispelled the notion, claiming that I was not a Helper, but rather a Four: “The Romantic.” Sure that I had mistyped myself based on my context, my friends maintained that they had seen me at both my best and my worst, and that I was a Four.
Still not knowing much about the Enneagram other than the test I took and the minimal research of just my type (you need to research every type just in case), I allowed others who I figured knew more than me to help define my number. Some friends believed me when I said I was a Two, others pushed back with arguments for Four, and others would momentarily float the idea of me being a Seven before falling back into the Two camp.
For a year or so, I would tell people that I was a Two. Yet, when I would read posts that people would send me about being a Two, I often felt a disconnect between myself and the person I was supposed to be as a Two.
The type descriptions for Fours were just as confusing, full of half-true descriptors of the person I thought I was. Close friends of mine who knew I was struggling to discover my type suggested I “read more about it,” but I didn’t know where to start.
When the COVID crisis hit last March, whatever motivation I may have had to learn was replaced with the comfort of spending my final days of college sitting on the couch playing Wii Sports Resort with my sisters.
Thankfully, beginning my studies here at McAfee reawakened those curiosities and allowed me to search for answers once more. When I read the chapter on Type Seven: “The Enthusiast,” I finally felt at home with a type.
Not that I align with every single thing the authors laid out as Seven characteristics (I don’t think anybody can be 100% any one type), but a vast majority of the traits are spot on for me.
Finally, I have a frame of reference for my strengths, weaknesses, fears, and quirks, as well as a sense of belonging. As I have just made this discovery, I cannot yet speak to the progress I will hopefully make in “discovering myself,” but I have a starting point and much enthusiasm for the journey ahead. My one wish is that those friends who had floated the idea of me being a Seven had pushed the idea more, but then again, I could have done the research myself.
Regardless of the timing, I am grateful to be a Seven, but even more so, a unique creation of God.
Jonathan Hall is a CBF Leadership scholar and first year student at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta where he is pursuing his Master of Divinity. In addition to seminary, Jonathan is currently serving at Smoke Rise Baptist Church as an intern with the children, youth, and choir programs.