I love Personality Tests. I have always found them to be a fascinating way to learn more about myself and to learn more about other people. There is certainly the risk of making unfair assumptions about people based on their Myers-Briggs profile; but in general I believe they are helpful tools for us.
Recently, Marianne discovered and read about a “Personality Test” called the Enneagram (you can read about it at www.enneagraminstitute.com
). She passed some of the insights on to me, and I did some reading on it as well. The Enneagram is the hot new personality test in some of the circles I run in…and, surprise, surprise: I love it. I’m no expert, but it is the most helpful Personality Test I have come across. The greatest strength of the Enneagram (as opposed to DISC or Myers-Briggs) is that it profiles each personality type on a spectrum ranging from “Healthy” to “Unhealthy.” This is helpful because it adds more nuance to our self-understanding given in the test. For example, if someone is an Enneagram 8 (described at the Institute as “The Challenger: powerful, dominating, self-confident, decisive, and willful”), a more passive or reserved person might immediately get nervous to be around the 8! However, the “8” is just a descriptor of a person’s “wiring.” We all have certain “wiring” and we can all constantly pursue becoming healthier people. The Enneagram makes good sense of the fact that we are all in process and all in need of growth. So the Enneagram helps an “8” to understand how they function when they are in a healthy place as well as when they are struggling.
Now - I believe Christians would be wise to make use of a tool like the Enneagram. It is not divinely inspired or inherently authoritative, but it can help us grow in self-awareness and self-knowledge. Self-awareness is an essential part of our own spiritual growth. John Calvin, in the first sentence of his magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, wrote: “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves.” In other words, one way to grow in our love and affection for God is to see ourselves rightly. In fact, as we often say at Christ Church, you cannot really see the gospel of Jesus Christ in all of its beauty until you see your own need. And to see your own need requires you to be self-aware. But self-awareness works in the other direction too - it shows us our propensity towards sin and brokenness, but it can also show us the ways in which we have been gifted and blessed as image-bearers to engage in the work of ministry, love others, and serve as Kingdom agents in the world. Bottom line: self-awareness helps us see areas in our lives that need redemptive change and areas in our lives that we can leverage for the glory of God. The Enneagram can help us with this.