The answer is, “of course!” You can hear for yourself how the Enneagram is helping church leaders manage the stress and anxiety of discerning when to re-open their buildings.
Healthy 7’s: Bringing joy to others through their gifts, healthy 7’s help us see the best in our circumstances. A healthy 7 can help us find contentment where we are, or at least inspire us to be adventurous and find joy and contentment in unexpected places. Joy is a gift to be created, shared, and received.
Unhealthy 7’s: When they’re in unhealthy space, 7’s will reframe sadness to the extent that they deny its presence. They may internalize their sadness and inability, attempting to escape that from sadness in self destructive behavior.
Healthy Stress Move to 1: When 7’s make a healthy stress move, they will find energy to focus and complete tasks while resisting the temptation to micromanage in order to get the positivity they crave.
Unhealthy Stress Move to 1: Unhealthy stress moves in a 7 will look like an unhealthy 1. Controlling and dualistic, they may brood over their circumstances and their inability to change them. They will look for scapegoats on which to place the blame for their circumstances.
Enneagram 7’s and Grief: Grief cannot be reframed; it must be experienced but will not last forever.
COVID-19 and Church Leadership
Healthy Seven’s are masters at reframing our current circumstances, choosing optimism over pessimism. Believing in a bright future, the 7’s in our future might appear a bit “pollyanna” to the dependent and withdrawing types. We need encouragers, though. We need those who will press forward because they are looking or joy and hope, not because they are intrinsically compelled (8) or because they feel obligated to be strong (3).
During our COVID-19 pandemic, we need healthy reframing without avoiding the reality of our current situation. There is much to be negative about. Our smart phones bring us news of death and infection and economic calamity. Our social media brings us opinion after uninformed opinion. We need church leaders who will help us release the negativity that pundits and politicians would use to manipulate us. A healthy 7 will gently point us away from our negative impulses and news feeds and towards a faithful calm response to an uncertain time.
7’s, we know we need to have some fun right now to escape the house, escape the quarantine, and escape the negativity. We need to not forget what joy and laughter feel like. However, be cautious about asking us to leave behind the negative feelings. Some of us aren’t ready to look for a bright future. We may need to grieve the past or focus on the here and now. Those are needed, too.
It’s easy to be pessimistic about the changes the pandemic will force on our churches. Will you remind us that nothing in the future is written in stone? Will you help us reject the dualistic view that the church will either thrive or fail in a post-pandemic world? When the time is right, will you help us to see the possibilities and adventure of a new church world? Your faith sees a good God worthy of praise and adoration regardless of our circumstances. We’re going to trust you to remind us of that.
Here’s a few questions to keep in mind:
Who is seeking you out for encouragement? Are you responding with a listening spirit or an attempt to reframe things to make it all seem OK?
Can you be honest with yourself that you’re grieving, too? Not everything can be reframed into something that feels happy. Acknowledging what you’ve lost or may likely lose will help you be a pastor to others.
Send us funny memes and jokes. Please. (Just kidding.) But what could you do to bring a different perspective to space that tends to become negative?
Who do you know that is responding to the pandemic with either/or thinking? What might you do to encourage third-option thinking?
Healthy 6: Healthy 6’s can be calm in present uncertainty because they have prepared for multiple outcomes. Naturally wary towards danger and able to sense trouble, they help their community know when caution is called for. Healthy 6’s do this out of a healthy response to fear and with deep loyalty for friendships that they wish to protect and nurture.
Unhealthy 6: Unhealthy 6’s act from a fear for others and themselves. Finding danger around every corner, the sky seems to be falling far too often. Worried and anxious, they will find fault in those they perceive to be causing the uncertainty and imagine worst-case scenarios if things (or people) don’t change.
Healthy Stress Move to 3: Like a healthy 3, a 6 moving to stress knows how, when, and where to disarm her own frenetic activity. He recognizes that what could be done is different from what must be done which is also different from what is his to do.
Unhealthy Stress Move to 3: An unhealthy 3 does not know when to slow down and will become a workaholic with a transactional approach to relationships. Similarly, the unhealthy stress move for a 6 is to attempt to cover her own feelings with activity and denial. She may push back on genuine concern for her behavior, denying that any problem exists.
Enneagram Type 6 and Grief 6s are in touch with their emotions and able to name their grief. Grief might get tricky for 6s if they don’t hear permission to stay with the grief through its course. 6s, you are the authority on your own internal life; you have permission to grieve what you need to and in the ways that are helpful to you.
COVID 19 and Church Leadership
A healthy 6 is the perfect person to tell us why it’s the right thing to do to shelter-in-place and have online worship services. A healthy 6 can describe in great detail the logical irrefutable reasons why staying at home means staying safe. A healthy 6 can do this with gentle logic and a desire to keep the community of believers safe for the sake of others.
Our healthy 6’s can also be the first to warn us that there are some who, even if they’re watching online church, are not connecting with the community. Their herd mentality will help us make sure no one is left behind. They’ll help us problem-solve how to keep people together. Their focused activity will comfort those who are worried about financial instability, isolated family members, and a physically scattered church. They can do these things because they’ve already imagined all of these falling apart.
On the other hand, Sixes… now is not the time to constantly be the “bearer of bad news.” Please don’t grieve that which hasn’t happened yet. There is anxiety about our current circumstances. We need pastors who will be present with us rather than news reporters hoping to get our attention on how bad things may end up being.
Special note for 6s: It can be a healthy self assessment for you to notice where you are each day in response to authority. Sixes move along a continuum of phobic to counter-phobic all the time. Are you still fluctuating on that scale or have you camped at one end or the other? Notice which authority figures you are distrustful of and which ones you never question. Either extreme is a red flag when reactive rather than responsive in nature.
Rest assured, your deep desire to protect and nurture us will bring us back together with confidence and joy. You may be the best person in the church to make sure everyone feels seen. We’ll be loyal to our church family because you were loyal to us. You made sure we weren’t forgotten. We aren’t a checklist; we’re your family.
Here’s a few questions to keep in mind:
Who do you worry about? What frightens you about this moment? It’s probably not your first instinctive answer. What’s behind that fear?
Who is in danger of being left behind? How might you make that person feel seen?
What are the flaws in your church’s interim plans for COVID? What unintended consequences might that have on the church long-term? How effectively are you communicating your thoughts about this?
Are you feeling left out or left behind? How is that impacting your leadership? How is that impacting other relationships?
Do you have that music phase that makes you shake your head? It’s the one where you shrug to yourself and confess, “No idea what happened there.” Country music was that phase for me. One song has stayed with me, though: Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry”. Their 1992 song made it to #1 and spent 20 weeks on Billboards’ top songs chart. Maybe you know the refrain:
I’m in a hurry to get things done
O I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really got to do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why
Churches in the U.S. have been historically good at rewarding performances delivered with excellence in a hurry. I’d barely given up my country music phase when I started ministry and hit the ground running. Hired in March, diplomas hung in my office days after graduation, and off to camp in June. I hacked off my first invested volunteer in July, tore down a sacred cow that Fall, and got my first raise seven months after being hired. Performance delivered. Performance rewarded.
COVID-19’s shelter in place policies, economic devastation, and political polarization have exposed our rush to reward success for what it is – pride and greed. A pandemic did not however remove the generational sin of equating performance and preparation with discipleship. The pandemic has laid bare our instinct to rush and rush without knowing our why.
We’re already anticipating re-opening.
The United States of America is genetically unable to be still. Sports are scheming ways to play partial seasons. Retail businesses are asking when they can provide curb-side pickup. The government is rewarding businesses who do everything possible to resist closing their doors. To be sure, these are helpful economic actions that save jobs and improve lives.
Then there are the churches and faith-based organizations hosting webinars and posting articles about how and when to re-open. There are months-long plans that assume a return to almost-normal is the goal. There are planning templates making the rounds with dozens of actions we’ll have to take if we are to be ready. Most we’ve seen have neither the name of Jesus nor the implications for discipleship anywhere on them. We’re in a hurry to get things done; we seem unable to stay still.
We’ve placed a starting line and we’re waiting for the gun to go off, even if that metaphorical gun is months away. To be sure, there are good reasons to be prepared when our buildings re-open. Spreading the virus because we were under-prepared is a fear many pastors are feeling right now. Mitigating the risk of infection is a logistical nightmare, but lives are at stake. Our sanctuaries and our coffee shops and our hospitality desks were designed to create a feeling of intimacy and connection, not social distance. Churches who fall short in these and countless other COVID-related decisions about their gatherings will face grave consequences.
However, many infectious disease experts suggest that it will be months until we can safely return to larger gatherings of 50 or more people. Many pastors we work with do not expect to be able to re-open their buildings until the Fall, at the earliest. Even when we have the OK to gather, most understand that there will have to be phases of some kind to be fully together again. Yet we seem determined to be ready for that now. What’s our hurry?
We are rushing not to open our churches or to safely plan their re-opening. We are attempting to manage our grief by managing our imagined future. We grieve our lost sense of control. We grieve the sudden change in our relationships. We grieve the life events we are missing. We grieve an uncertain financial future. We grieve. Therefore, we are rushing to plan, communicating to our constituents that we’ll be ready to go, and doing every little thing we can in the meantime.
The soul-care response to our grief is not action. It is not inaction. It is courageous stillness and rest in God’s presence. Sitting with our grief, we will be a witness to our anxious culture rather complicit with its anxiety.
Are we ready? Or resting?
Church leaders: What if you were the last ones in your community to rush into an imagined new “normal”? What if your church modeled stillness and rest in the face of anxious responses to grief?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a Sabbath from our busy-ness. It could also be a Sabbath from our incessant need to be ready. The pandemic invites us to rest. The ready accessibility of plans to re-open, the discussions about how soon it can happen, and the need to feel confident in what happens three, six, or even eighteen months from now suggests that some among us aren’t resting; we’re only preparing to resume.
I hear a voice that says I’m running behind
I better pick up my pace it’s a race
O I’m in a hurry to get things done
Are we sacrificing caring for our souls on the altar of readiness? That has a human cost. More on that in part 2.
Healthy Enneagram 5: Patiently waiting for a future that others anxiously await or look to others to bring about, a healthy 5 can confidently stay grounded in dispassionate facts that give themselves and others a sense of confidence. The healthy 5 will know when it’s time to participate and when it’s time to observe and will comfortable in both.
Unhealthy Enneagram 5: The unhealthy 5 may be defensive and secretive about what they know and perhaps cynical of others’ observations. Distancing themselves from others, they find safety in solitude rather than the tension of healthy relationships.
Healthy Stress Move to 7: The world is unfolding, not static. While that’s stressful for a 5, their healthy response is one of a more comprehensive understanding, complete with tension. They have confidence in unpredictable moments.
Unhealthy Stress Move to 7: Like an unhealthy 7, when a 5 is disorganized and disconnected, he is experiencing unhealthy stress. The unhealthy stress move may also look like pessimistic assumptions about the future, unfinished tasks, and biting sarcasm.
Enneagram 5’s and Grief: Grief cannot be reasoned away. It is unanchored and unsafe.
COVID 19 and Church Leadership
It seems there’s a joke in everyone’s social media feed that 5’s either didn’t notice we went to shelter-in-place or are secretly celebrating it. Their common introversion is an easy target for a funny joke and they’ll laugh along with us. However, while we were laughing, they were learning.
Enneagram 5’s who are leading churches, we need your considerable ability to observe, learn, and respond dispassionately. We need reframing built not on wishful thinking or short-sighted actions. We need an honest assessment of our circumstances. We need informed leaders who will guide us though uncertainty with just enough adventure to overcome our discomfort with risk because we have someone with us whose preparation we trust. When we are emotionally and thoughtfully ready to act, your healthy stress will benefit us all.
When we come looking to you for immediate reassurance, you may find it tempting to think, “it’s not the right time for me to respond.” Instead, can you offer a response that helps us take a deep breath? Can you let us inside your hardworking mind to know what questions you’re asking right now? Can you be our teacher and mentor, inviting us to ask the same questions?
A COVID-19 world and a post-COVID world will be uneasy in their own ways. Our instinct is now and will be to look to our more aggressive numbers to perform what looks to us like leadership. However, church leadership in this moment will require a solid anchor in the past so that we can know what was faith and what was form. We need to discern which was which and move forward with confidence and compassion for one another. The future will look different, but we need companions and teachers for whom it will be less surprising. That’s a perfect job for an Enneagram 5.
Here’s a few questions for you:
What are the underlying questions that others are asking that are leading them to anxiety? Have you shared the questions you’re asking instead?
How well-refined is your instinct for when to patiently learn and when to respond? Do you lean too hard to waiting and learning? Where can you learn a sense of adventure? Finding adventure will teach you when to trust your gut and when to trust your mind.
Are you using your observation skills as a safe place where you can protect yourself? Or are you patiently waiting for the right moment to respond (though it may not be the moment you anticipated)?
Stress and the Enneagram 4
Healthy Enneagram 4 A healthy Enneagram Type 4 is familiar with a wide range of emotions and knows how and when to express them in nuanced and helpful ways. A healthy 4 can turn those deeply felt emotions into creativity and beauty, or decide not to act on every feeling. A healthy 4 expresses herself in ways that resonate with others. She gives form to emotions that others may not have words to express.
Unhealthy Enneagram 4 An unhealthy 4 struggles to accept herself. She allows her emotions to cripple her ability to function and isolate her from others. Unhealthy reactions to emotions – melancholy, victim mentality, resentment – creep in and color her feelings about herself and others. He will use dramatic expressions to cry for help.
Healthy Stress Move to 2 When moving to Type 2 in stress, a healthy 4 can move the focus outside of himself and find energy to complete tasks. She will notice her own and others’ emotional states and respond as a pastor to herself and to others.
Unhealthy Stress Move to 2 Like unhealthy 2’s, an Enneagram 4 in unhealthy stress will appear needy or cloying and be unable to stop craving others’ attention and care. She will have difficulty loving others while allowing her stress to color her perception of others’ feelings about her.
Grief and the Enneagram 4 4s are best equipped to sit with others in grief as they are familiar with the darker emotions and don’t feel the need to fix pain. They are able to let grief just be what it is.
Enneagram 4’s in Church Leadership
The COVID-19 pandemic has had very few moments of beauty and inspiration. At the right time and in the right moment, we will need to be able to look back and see what was invisible to us in this season. The past-oriented 4 who has processed his emotions will be able to do just that. In a sea of gray filled with rising death tolls and political power grabs, she will see the glimpse of light and humanity that others have missed.
Healthy 4’s will be some of our best pastors after the pandemic. They will sit with us as we process our grief and exhaustion. They will acknowledge our emotions, feel them almost as deeply, and then speak from an inner peace about the more beautiful more human moments in the pandemic.
To many Enneagram types, we assume that Churches in the West have had fewer expressions of art than other centuries. An Enneagram 4, while likely agreeing, can turn our attention ever so slightly to see the art that we may have missed. Then, she’ll ask us to contribute our own creative spirit to the many voices of expression the church has always expressed.
We need Enneagram 4’s to help us escape rigid interpretations of Scripture, remind us that the psalms and prophets were poetry before they were predictions, and remember that the earliest ideas captured by the church were songs and verses about Jesus’ life. We need Enneagram 4’s to lead us into verbal and physical expressions of our experience with COVID-19.
There are plenty of emotions to feel right now, Enneagram 4’s. We have emotions we’re unaccustomed to feeling. We have trouble naming them or understanding why they impact our energy. Sit with us, talk freely and comfortably about feelings, and then help us accept our feelings without judgement.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself so that you can stay healthy:
What emotions are you seeing more of right now? Can you find words or pictures to help us express those?
What emotions are you feeling right now? In what ways are they coloring your picture of the world?
Where are you having difficulty finding beauty? Can you be OK with that for the time being and allow a look into the past to help you discover that?
Healthy Enneagram 3: Healthy Type 3’s are hard workers whose strength we can rely on. They see a future we can’t, and it’s often optimistic. They can get more done in a short period of time than most other types while balancing their work life and their rest. Their self-worth lies within rather than in the goals they set and reach. They can be just as easily as they can do or think.
Unhealthy Enneagram 3: Unhealthy 3’s equate their success with their self-worth. Unable to see past their own actions, they further repress their feelings in order to avoid engaging the shame of failure and the emptiness of success. They become deceitful, saying and doing anything to be seen as successful, or at least not as a failure. They will create enemies so as to avoid attention being brought to the ineptitude they cannot admit.
Healthy Stress Move to 9: When healthy Type 3’s feel stress (which feeling stress is a win in itself), they know to unplug and rest. From there, they can see their own worth and give an honest assessment of themselves. They can choose where to put their energy without apologizing for choosing not to accomplish everything within reach. They are OK if success belongs to others.
Unhealthy Stress Move to 9: In an unhealthy move to 9, Enneagram 3’s will simply numb out rather than intentionally rest. They may choose busywork rather than meaningful work. They will become increasingly defensive about their actions out of a fear of feeling shame. They will be lethargic and will self-accuse for being unable to be as effective as they are accustomed.
Enneagram 3’s and Grief Enneagram 3’s struggle with grief because there is nothing to do or think in grief. There is only to be, to acknowledge emotions that have been repressed, and to resist the inclination to be strong rather than vulnerable.
COVID 19 and Church Leadership
Enneagram 3’s are the workhorses of ministry, and churches have rewarded them for being that person. They cast vision and then provide the strong back on which to reach that vision. They come up with ideas, inspire volunteers to join them while they set an exemplary work ethic. They’ll tell you they’re not keeping score but make no mistake, they know the numbers. They’re also going to be confident regardless of what the numbers may say.
Enneagram 3’s are the reason we have church planting movements, mega- churches, small group multiplication. They are also a big reason why we are obsessed with measuring church. They may look to membership, number of volunteers, tithing, or how many hires have been made to the staff. Whatever the measure, the church has done amazing things when Three’s have inspired others and shown them the way.
While rewarding all of that strength, churches have developed a weak muscle among disciples – reflection and stillness. A healthy Enneagram 3 who is leading a church will both recognize her own shortcomings in being still and feeling what is happening while also acknowledging that she is likely not the one to lead that effort in his church.
COVID-19 is an opportunity to choose not to do that which represses the anxiety and too easily solves the feelings of helplessness. We need healthy 3’s who will insist that we slow down and who will give us things we can do AND things we can let go of. We need their strength because there is a lot to do, and we need their self-restraint because there is much that needs to not be done in post-COVID world.
What if, rather than a list of things we can do once our pandemic eases its intensity, we had a list of things we chose not to do, ever again? What if we saw some of our action for what it is – hollow and self-serving? Enneagram 3’s who are living in authentic space can lead us to identify those, acknowledge our emotional attachment to them, and then set them aside.
Three’s, here’s a few questions for you:
What is it you feel compelled to do? Name the feeling that drives that compulsion, and be careful not to give a feeling that sounds suspiciously like an action.
What is yours to do? What are you taking up that others could do? What are you doing that doesn’t need doing in this moment?
How does this pandemic make you feel? Use this moment to carefully consider what anxiety feels like, when it occurs, and how you respond.
How and when are you feeling lethargic? What are you doing to compensate? Acknowledge that feeling to others; stop and choose not to act.
Are you certain about what needs doing and needs doing right away? Great. It will still be there to do after you’ve chosen to sit with that for a time.
Enneagram 2 Under Stress
Healthy Enneagram 2: Healthy Enneagram Type 2’s can name their own needs. They give freely of their love in whatever form the other person best receives it. They create a sense of safety where deep relationships form best.
Unhealthy Enneagram 2: Unhealthy Enneagram Type 2’s fear that telling others how they feel will threaten a relationship. If they do tell others how they feel, they resort to manipulation. If they choose to withhold how they feel, they will resort to unhealthy ways to protect themselves while maintaining a shell of those relationships. In short, they only understand themselves through others’ eyes.
Healthy Stress Move to 8: Healthy stress for Type 2’s looks like positive Type 8 characteristics. They have unusual persistence and stamina in caring for others while setting and holding healthy boundaries. They see and love the vulnerable for who they are rather than out of pity or virtue signaling. They change lives because they know and lean into the power of a relationship.
Unhealthy Stress Move to 8: In an effort to protect themselves, they become controlling and demanding. In extreme cases of internalizing and co-dependency, they may nurture grudges. Their lack of healthy stress responses leads to self-fulfilling results – they become more and more distant from the relationship they crave most.
What’s hard about grief for a Type Two? The hardest part of grief for a 2 is feeling their own grief, instead of someone else’s.
Enneagram 2 and Church Leadership
Enneagram Type 2’s who are leaders in their churches are beloved. They show up at bedsides. They know each person by name. They know which questions to ask that will make each person feel seen. They wear their heart on their sleeve, yet feel (relatively) safe leaving it out there.
COVID-19 has affected them more deeply than most. There is no physical space in which to truly BE with someone. There are no hugs to share. They have lost touch with some who they know need others’ physical presence. They hurt for others’ loneliness in part because they feel that same loneliness. Loneliness is a hole in the soul of an Enneagram 2. The question is, what will they choose to fill it with.
An Enneagram 2 can take a positive stress move to 8 and turn it into smarter compassion. Compassion that asks logical questions as well as feeling ones; compassion that has reasonable boundaries. They’re the ones who will make sure you don’t skip checking up on each other before moving on to the business at hand, even in online meetings. They’ll help mobilize other helpers so that people are cared for and their own sanity stays in tact.
Our pandemic also gives the Type 2 many ways to fill that hole that will hurt them and others. Physical isolation is unavoidable at the moment. There is no visible enemy with which to express their anger, and so a general resentment about our entire predicament may find its way into their relationship with themselves (self-pity and shutting down) and with others (misplaced anger). They may also burn out in an attempt to eradicate anyone and everyone’s loneliness.
Type 2’s will cry tears of great joy when they can finally be present with those they’ve been separated from during COVID-19 in part because they will have felt others’ absence more deeply than most. They’re the feelers in our churches. We need them to stay healthy so that as some of us become numb or too accustomed to the distance we’re experiencing, they remind us of the humanity we feel when are seen for who we are, not as a face on a screen.
Enneagram 2’s, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
When it comes to showing others love, what is mine to do? What must I release?
Who knows me like I want to know others? Am I staying open to that person?
Am I feeling any resentment or anger? From where is that resentment coming? Is it spilling out into my capacity to show genuine care and affection?
Who needs to be shown love right now? What unique way can I show it, even if we can’t be present together?
Enneagram 1’s Under Stress
Healthy Enneagram 1: A healthy 1 continually looks for ways to improve self and encourage others to improve. A healthy 1 takes ideas and organizes them thoroughly into actionable steps. Every 1 has the “inner critic,” but when healthy, 1s can turn the volume down on that voice. The anger that motivates the Enneagram 1 is pointed in a constructive direction where change is needed and will benefit many.
Unhealthy Enneagram 1: The “inner critic” colors their world and becomes the leading influencer of their self-perception. The unhealthy one dwells on imperfections in self and others, becoming judgmental and failing to choose battles well. An unhealthy 1 seeks control more than order.
Healthy Stress Move to 4: A healthy stress move to 4 adds shades of gray to a 1’s tendency towards the black-and-white. In stress, the healthy 1 can see where and what needs reforming, but aren’t compelled to act on imperfections outside their control. They will be creative in their solutions rather than rigid. They can turn inward without becoming self-destructive. To manage stress, a healthy 1 can seek out expressive ways as an outlet for pain.
Unhealthy Stress Move to 4: With their inner critic loud, they work overtime to be perfect and to perfect others. Like an unhealthy four, they may be overly sensitive and prone to victim-thinking. Unlike 4s, melancholy in this unhealthy 1 space is more aptly named depression and needs gentle care.
Enneagram 1’s and Grief: Grief is especially hard for 1’s because grief feels like a personal failure to make things better
Enneagram 1’s and Church Leadership
There are many frayed edges in a world overrun by pandemic and in a church that’s feeling its way through. There are people who could have and should have done better. Some of those people are staring back at us in the mirror. There are little imperfections everywhere we turn, and those imperfections are making our lives harder. What are we do about those? Are you feeling the need to perfect all the frayed edges of our confusion, including our church life? Which frayed edges are worth mending?
Enneagram 1’s, there are many critics in our world right now, and everyone has their own reasons to be angry about the chaos that’s happening around them. You’ve managed your anger for most of your life. You’ve turned that anger into an ability to bring order to chaos. How do we make our frustration with the world orderly instead of chaotic? How do we bring it into focus so that it’s not overwhelming? Maybe you can demonstrate healthy and helpful criticism so that we can find our way through this mess.
We believe in you. We’ve seen you at your best. We’ve seen you rooted and grounded in what’s right in front of you. All we can see is the mess around us, but you have a gut feeling about which messes need cleaning and which can be left messy. Should we feel guilty about which messes we’re choosing to deal with, and which ones we aren’t dealing with? You can teach and model healthy messiness. We could use a good dose of self-permission to be less than perfect right now.
We also need a good teacher about what needs to be done in the here and now. We could look to you to see how you’re exercising your energy in the direction of fixable problems that should be prioritized. We’re likely to expend a lot of energy creating unsustainable habits. What if you modeled the way the church is called to meet those who are right in front of us? What if you showed us how to have patience about our future, curiosity for our past, but a passion for our present?
We are a world in need of grieving, and we’re going to grieve more when the pandemic ends. You know how to mend others without requiring perfection. When this is all over, the world around us is going to feel as chaotic as it does now, and we’re going to grieve that we can’t fix everything. We can mend most everything, beginning with ourselves. We’re going to look to you to help us find our way through that grief.
You are beautifully and wonderfully made. Here are some questions that may remind you that God has made you to be beautiful, not perfect.
What is yours to do? What is out of your control?
What are you trying to perfect rather than mend? WHO are you trying to perfect rather than mend?
What is one fraying edge of your church’s circumstances that you’d like to improve? How might you invest more time there and less time on problems that are less important?
Enneagram 9’s Under Stress
Healthy Enneagram 9: Healthy 9’s are some of the better mediators around. They are able to see the complexities of their surroundings. They are flexible, which may appear to aggressive Enneagram numbers as being indecisive. Rather, healthy 9’s are unattached to having it their way. They are good at knowing when they need to rest, recognizing when their energy is depleted.
Unhealthy Enneagram 9: Unhealthy 9’s may resist action and decision to the extent that they check out, choosing activities which help them stop feeling. They may have wide and sudden pendulum swings between their anger and their indifference. They are not conflict-wise; they are conflict-avoidant.
Healthy Stress Move to 6: In a healthy stress move, Enneagram 9’s trust themselves. Like a healthy 6, they ask hard questions and stay comfortable with a lack of certainty. They recognize danger and respond with their usual thoughtfulness and consideration.
UnUnhealthy Stress Move to 6: Nines who respond in unhealthy ways to stress are often overcommitted and distrustful of others. They tend to be reactive rather than carefully considerate. They may find scapegoats a bit too easily and assign them more power than they actually hold.
Enneagram 9’s and Grief: Grief may be difficult for an Enneagram 9 because grief is a conflict between what was and what is.
Enneagram 9 and Church Leadership
If you’re a church leader who’s flying on adrenaline right now, an Enneagram 9 may be the person you need to be present with. You need them to make sure you pace yourself and recognize when you need to do something besides act. They are a withdrawing number, and aren’t as likely to seek you out. You can expect them to respond to you (though it may not be as fast as more aggressive numbers–3, 7, and 8–would prefer). Look for them and ask for their participation; deep down they want to know that their contribution matters. They are happy for you to take the initiative.
On the other hand, our grief needs companionship and there are few better companions for grief than an Enneagram 9. Able to sit still while others squirm in emotions they don’t fully understand, an Enneagram 9 can be a place of stillness and quiet in an otherwise busy reaction to grief.
As an Enneagram 9 who is a church leader, know that we welcome your presence, even and especially when reactive aggressive numbers get in each other’s way. You matter. Please refill your own energy, because to the extent you make yourself available, it will be tapped often. There will likely be many demands on you that do not feed your soul. It’s OK to tell us that you just can’t right now. Despite pleas to the contrary, we need you to be our chaplains right now, not our organizers and activators.
Our new dependence on virtual meetings may give you safe distance that feels as if it is requiring less of you. However, It will also require you to come with your own energy, instead of riding the coattails of someone else’s. Set some good boundaries around time online as it will cost you more energy than most face to face interactions.
Here’s a few questions for you:
Are you expending more energy than usual? Where are you finding life right now? How well is that serving you? How are you numbing your feelings right now?
Are you hoarding your energy resources with others? Or are you sharing them? What might that say about the state of your soul?
Who is seeking you out for care? In what ways are you allowing their anxiety to affect you? Are you setting good boundaries on your availability?
Things have changed fast and we’re having to adapt. Are you being asked to organize or initiate more than makes you comfortable? Be thoughtful and aware of your energy level; feed your soul.