I’ve just linked to Dave’s Enneagram Blog. Since the early 1980s I have been fascinated with the enneagram system, used primarily for identifying and exploring personality styles in both secular and Christian spiritual direction circles. There are many instruments out there for identifying temperament behaviour in vocational, management and therapeutic settings, some better known than others. The danger of all such instruments is the tendency to predetermine and reduce one’s likely behaviour – “Oh, I’m a (insert label) so I am doomed to act or behave in this way when this thing happens.”
What I like about the enneagram (which is also prone to being abused in this way) is it’s full dynamic. “Yes, when under stress I habitually use this coping strategy, but there are a number of options that are also open to me which, according to my choice, either enhance or diminish my growth and enjoyment.”
Exploring the enneagram system has certainly enhanced my capacity to understand how I and others tick, even helping us to work together more effectively. It is a strong aid in contemplative prayer, as each habitual coping pattern has it’s attendant traps and giftings, and the contemplative traditions are replete with experience in integrating all of these in our journey into the fullness of God (which, for the follower of Jesus’ way, is revealed most strongly through Christ’s example and presence).