Three Cautions on The Enneagram

Three Cautions on The Enneagram

Written by David Seibel | 9.12.2019

Before reading this post, you should know of this post that describes the benefits of the Enneagram

Over the summer at Teacher Orientation, a group of teachers at Coram Deo Academy engaged in a brief exercise using The Five Voices communication framework for teams. Their motto is, “Everyone speaks but not everyone is heard. You have a leadership voice. Discover it today.” Their stated mission is to empower teams to be more effective through finding their unique voice in the workplace. 

I chose to do this activity because it was an interactive “get to know you” for our new staff. When researching, I found a huge number of personality profiles available to people: Enneagram, Strengthsfinder, Disc Profile, Myers-BriggsWhich Friends Character Are You? and Which Winnie the Poo Character are you?

After doing one of these profiles with my staff and watching my church do an Enneagram workshop — that was more well-attended than members meetings, prayer groups and service projects combined  I want to issue three cautions on the Enneagram (and tools like it).

Spending more time understanding your Enneagram sounds like staring at your reflection in the mirror.

Spending more time understanding your Enneagram sounds like staring at your reflection in the mirror.

#1: It could make you more selfish

As comedian John Crist satirically covers in his Facebook video about the Enneagram, the human heart is sneaky and tools like this could actually empower those interested to become more self-centered rather than focused on serving others.  Spending more time understanding your Enneagram sounds like staring at your reflection in the mirror.

“It is clear that some folks are addicted to letting these tests reveal their true identity.”

“It is clear that some folks are addicted to letting these tests reveal their true identity.”

#2: It could have too much authority

Pastor and theologian Kevin DeYoung describes this well here. Whether you are a person of faith or not, you have some authority that governs your life. It could be scientific knowledge, family tradition, your spouse, a church, past experiences, a sacred text like the Bible or your own emotions. A tool is meant to be used by a master but sometimes, the tool can become the authoritative master. In the same way that smart phone addiction is real, it is clear that some folks are addicted to letting these tests reveal their true identity. In this sense, Enneagram and tools like it could be considered false teachers.  

“Nourishing your soul on the Enneagram could be consuming massive amounts of lies.”

“Nourishing your soul on the Enneagram could be consuming massive amounts of lies.”

#3: It could glorify defective behaviors

The human being flourishes when the soul is nourished upon truth, goodness and beauty. Thus, describing personal irritations, limitations and obsessive-compulsive behaviors in vivid detail could be overdone to the point that it is destructive rather than constructive.  Nourishing your soul on the Enneagram could be consuming massive amounts of lies, evil and deformity rather than truth, goodness and beauty. 

With this in mind…

Whether or not the good outweighs the bad is up to each individual and organization.  I will say that it concerns me how much weight and attention is given to tests like these in comparison to weightier things.  I find that many of my peers are strong in self-awareness but not much else. See also my post on the Three Benefits of the Enneagram.

As Head of School at Coram Deo Academy, Dave Seibel aims to cultivate a generation of scholar-disciples who are passionate about learning. He is husband to Brooke and father of four future Coram Deo students. He is a graduate of Wabash College, Marian University and in final Master of Divinity course at Southern Seminary.

As Head of School at Coram Deo Academy, Dave Seibel aims to cultivate a generation of scholar-disciples who are passionate about learning. He is husband to Brooke and father of four future Coram Deo students. He is a graduate of Wabash College, Marian University and in final Master of Divinity course at Southern Seminary.

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