Last week Jonathan spoke about how we create our identities based on what we do, what we have and what others perceive of us. He also talked about the Enneagram test and hopefully most of you have taken time to take the test and have an idea of which type you are. Don’t worry if you haven’t because you might find as I speak this morning that something might resonate with you and pique your interest.
Today I’m going to talk about how our Intelligence Centers speak into how we perceive the world. The nine Enneagram types are divided into three intelligence centres: The heart, head and body. Depending on which Enneagram type you are, you might experience the world and your relationships through your thoughts, your emotions or through instinctive reactions. It’s how you live in the world.
What does that look like? You might be someone who is reactive, so you operate through the Body or Gut Intelligence triad. When you need to make a decision, you are quick to react in the moment relying on your instincts. That is the person you want around when you’re trying to work out where to get brunch after church. You don’t want me who will say “well whatever you feel like, or I don’t know what do you think?” No, you want a type 8, who will say – this is where we are going, and they will lead the way.
For someone who operates through the Head Intelligence triad, you might put a lot of thought into something before making a decision. So this person will probably jump on Yelp before deciding where to go to brunch, they’ll work out which place has high reviews, which is closer, which offers several options to cater for everyone’s dietary needs and give you a couple of options.
I operate out of the Heart triad. And we experience the world through our emotions. We like to engage with the emotions and the needs of those around us. So if you feel like Pizza for brunch, we’d probably go along, even if we are gluten intolerant because they are thinking of your needs.
And the reason we are talking about this is because, we can also engage with and relate to God through our Intelligence Centers, through our heart, mind or body and we are called to do so.
The greatest commandment, which we read earlier, is Jesus calling us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. But what does that really mean? Why is THIS the greatest commandment? And how can the Enneagram Intelligence Centers help us live out the greatest commandment?
When Jesus spoke of the greatest commandment, he quoted what Moses had said in Deuteronomy 6:5. He wasn’t just making stuff up. He was pointing out that this was the law of God as outlined in the Torah.
Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law but came to fulfill it and that’s why he quotes the Torah. Throughout the gospel of Matthew we read about how Jesus fulfills the laws as God intended and challenges his followers and fellow Jews to do the same.
Jesus challenges the Pharisees and the Sadducees who have obsessively followed the Mosaic Laws and the Oral traditions. So much so, that they’d forgotten the heart of God.
In Matthew, we read of instances where Jesus challenges how faith has been practiced. Jesus talks about the act of giving, prayer and fasting, saying it’s an activity that should be done in secret: Matthew 6:3 “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Mathew 6:5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” Matthew 6:17 “Then you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will be not obvious to others that you are fasting.” Basically, calling them out for using these practices to show off to others.
Jesus challenges the Pharisees for being overly focused on the law that they’ve lost sense of righteousness: when accused of cutting grain to feed themselves on the Sabbath, Jesus retorts back in Matthew 12:12 “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” When putting too much focus on ritualistic cleansing, Jesus retorts back in Matthew 15:19-20 “murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.
Jesus calls them out of living stuck within their mind’s understanding of honoring God through the observance of law and ritual and invites them into a relationship with God that involves loving, honoring and worshiping God with their entire being. Not just with their mind and what they understand to be right.
Their interior alignment with God was lost. Instead of aligning themselves with the desires and the heart of God, the Ancient Israelites were focused on doing what was lawfully right.
But loving God isn’t just in what we do in our actions. It involves our entire being.
So what does it look like to love God with your entirety? It’s when we align ourselves with the desires of God. It’s when our entire being, becomes a REFLECTION of the love and the grace of God. It is when we strive towards being who were created to be, which is the image of God as it says in Genesis 1:27, the Imago Dei. We were made in God’s likeness and when we reflect that, we live out whom God created us to be. When we do this – we are our TRUE SELVES. We become the best versions of ourselves. The healthiest versions of ourselves.
The opposite of that is when we operate out of our false self. An unhealthy self that gets trapped in the mind, in the body or the soul or trapped in the heart. An ego – driven self.
Depending on our Enneagram type and what Intelligence Center we operate from, our false self can manifest in different ways. Having an awareness of that can help us move away from our false self and start moving towards our true self, and thus closer to God.
But before I move forward and explain each triad, I just want to add that with the Enneagram, you have a dominant type but you may find that you resonate with qualities of other types because you can manifest aspects of those types in times of growth or stress or if that type is your wing. So you may find that you can relate to a lot of what I talk about today but that does not mean that you are more than one type. I encourage you, to take the time to research and read about your type to find out what characteristics of other types you might exhibit depending on what you are experiencing.
Explanation of Intelligence Centers
So here’s a chart:
Head Triad: Types 5,6 and 7 are driven by reason and logic. Because they operate from the mind, their energy is focused on the internal. They spend a lot of time in their thoughts analyzing and problem solving and take security in knowing and understanding. They are able to imagine so many different possibilities to a situation or problem.
When I initially read this type, I really wished that I operated out of the Head triad. Because they THINK! And they are so good at it! I feel like we as society, we place so much value in making thoughtful decisions, and being head driven rather than heart driven.
But I don’t, my type falls under the heart triad. Types 2,3 and 4 have strong relational energy. Now, unlike the head triad types, whose energy is internal in their minds and their thought processes, the focus on heart triad types is external. It’s on the people around them and how they relate to others. Because their energy is focused on the external, they have great concern over how others perceive them and their self-image. They seek attention and affirmation from others and that’s how they create their identity.
In the middle, we have the Gut or Body Intelligence centre. The Enneagram types that fall into this type are numbers 8,9 and 1. These types sit comfortably and are energized by both the inner and the outer world. They are instinctive and decisive. There’s no over thinking for Body Intelligence types. They make a decision and are ready to take action, which is why they are labeled as the Instinctive Intelligence centre. They instinctively know and then they do.
The False self
Now I’ll talk about how the false self manifests within each of these triads.
I am a type 2, a helper. Which all sounds nice and dandy, especially because I’m a Christian and work for a church so in many ways it makes sense that I would be drawn to this vocation because of my Enneagram type, right?
But finding out I am a two and reading about what that meant, was like looking at one of those vanity mirrors you see in hotels, the ones where one side is normal and the other is magnified so you see every single detail of your face, every pore, every blemish, every wrinkle. Like you know those details were there but you’ve never seen them all at once! Have all my pores always looked THAT BIG?!
That’s what the Enneagram does, it magnifies every detail of who you are and when I read my type, I became very aware of what the driving force was behind my personality. It was something that I knew but was in denial about. The Enneagram brings these details to light.
When I found out I was a 2, I thought Yay I’m a helper but ewww… (pause) now I know why….well I knew…but now that it’s on paper- it’s official, it’s real – a bunch of people wrote a bunch of books about it.
(slow) I find out what drives me to help people is that I feel worthy when I am needed by them… and I want to please them by helping them. I, as a result, quantify my worthiness on whether or not I can help them.
The dominant emotion that manifests as a result is SHAME…. Shame becomes the driving force behind the behavior of heart intelligence types. Heart types can control shame by trying to get others to like them and see their goodness. Shame can drive heart types to expend energy on seeking the approval of others, as a way to repress their feelings of inadequacy. If they don’t meet their approval or gain their praise, they feel more shameful and then they go find someone else whom they can seek the approval of, and it becomes a vicious cycle where they get trapped in their heart.
It’s interesting to see how this manifests in Type 4s. Type 4s, The Individualist, are unique and creative and desire to be understood as so. They use this to connect with others and that is where they quantify their worth. Feelings of inadequacy and shame surface when they think others see them as ordinary. They control their shame by focusing on their individuality and creativity. This is where they get trapped. They can’t see that they are loved for who they are. They get caught up in comparing themselves to others and trapped in the statement “I am not enough,” because they think they are not exceptional enough.
When a Head intelligence type looks into the mirror they may see that they have a tendency to over-think. A tendency to withdraw from others and retreat into their mental strategies and planning. If they are unsure, they hesitate to take action. They can become paralyzed by their focus on strategies, beliefs and plans.
When their false-self takes over, what manifests as a result, their dominant emotional response, is FEAR.
Type 6s, the Loyalist, can get trapped by fear in thinking about worse case scenarios and then are overcome by anxiety of it. They pour their energy into formulating the What ifs of every situation and get caught up analyzing every single scenario. But are unable to make a decision. They don’t trust themselves to make the right choice. Because they haven’t found security in their own understanding, they become fearful and get trapped in their mind.
When a Gut or Body Intelligence type looks in the mirror, they might find that because they act instinctively that they have a tendency to ignore their own feelings or that of others for the sake of doing what’s right. They are focused on their opinions and judgments that they lose sense of the reality of a situation or relationship.
When Body types get stuck in their false self, the emotional response to that is ANGER. They can dominate a situation by using anger to assert their power and control. While anger as an emotion is generally seen in a negative light, burying or repressing that anger can have it’s consequences too:
Type 1s, The Perfectionist, repress their anger by controlling the environment around them and using their inner critic to control themselves, they fixate on the judgment of others, themselves and their circumstances. When they get trapped in that, they become trapped in a world they see needs constant improvement and control their anger by constantly improving their environment.
In each Intelligence triad, the dominant emotion is not acknowledged leading to behavior that hurts self and people around them. When shame, fear or anger, dominates or is denied or is controlled instead of confronted, then we start operating closer to a false, ego-driven self.
BUT, God created us with those types in mind and although we are dominant in one Intelligence Center, we CAN and we ARE created for wholeness within that type, and that means moving towards and operating out of our true selves, the self we were created to be.
Jesus, the human manifestation of God, believed, trusted and followed the Divine image inside him and has called us to do the same.
Richard Rohr says: “Each of these Intelligence Centers offers us a different way of experiencing the loving presence and voice of God.”
So how can we move towards wholeness? How can we be set free from our false selves? How can we begin to transform and move towards our true selves?
Transformation for the Head Intelligence types means understanding that loving God with all your mind means giving in to the need for understanding and knowing.
That means you let go of the desire to understand life before you can live it. It means you give yourself permission to take action without the security of knowing what’s going to happen next. When you take the risk and allow yourself to engage with others and engage in the moment, without the need of knowing the outcome, you might find you have the capacity to give and receive the love of God freely.
To love with all your mind, is to allow yourself to deeply experience the present moment, even if that moment involves grief and sadness. I’m speaking to Type 7s, the Enthusiasts, when I say this. Resist the temptation to escape those moments of perceived emptiness or emotional pain with fun experiences. Allow yourself to sit in those moments and have the courage to confront them – without the need to understand them.
To love with all your mind is to rest in the knowledge that God is all knowing. Rest in truths beyond understanding. Rest in knowing that you are complete without the need to know, to understand and the need to fill your mind with distractions.
Transformation for the Body Intelligence types means understanding that loving God with all your soul or all your body means giving in to God’s will.
That means, you let go of control, judgment and perfection. You let go of the need for control or perfection all the time. You approach life with less judgment. You receive life without reacting to it or needing to fix it. Be open to and receptive to what unfolds and trust it without needing to react.
For 9s, the Peacemaker, that means letting go of trying to fix it all for the sake of perfect peace. Understand that serenity can come from relinquishing control just as Jesus relinquished control on the cross. Give yourself permission to show up for yourself, without the fear of conflict. You’ve always resisted your desires for the sake of peace because you think this is the right thing to do to improve the situation, but this creates more conflict in the future. Honor who YOU are, show up for YOURSELF too.
Body types can rest in the knowledge that perfection, control and judgment is ultimately in the hands of God. You can love God with all your soul or body when you can surrender to the instinctual desire to react and respond and instead allow your soul, your instincts and your body to be bathed in the WILL of God. In loving God with all your soul accept that you do not need to DO anything to receive the love of God fully.
Transformation for the Heart Intelligence types means understanding that loving God with all your heart means accepting the love of God WITH all your heart.
That means, you let go of trying to impress others. You let go of others’ opinion of you. You let go of trying to fix the world’s problems because that does not dictate your self worth. Accept that you don’t need to perform to feel loved.
Instead of looking externally for affirmation, look internally and reconnect with your self, your needs and your emotions. Get to know and appreciate your gifts and your goodness. Accept that all of you is outstanding and is enough.
Heart types can rest in the knowledge that you are fully loved by God. You do not need to earn God’s approval. You can love God with all your heart when you can receive God’s love with all your heart – without a need to perform, understanding that you are worthy and understanding that you are enough.
I am preaching to myself right now as I say this.
You might remember that I have shared with you before how my self-worth and self-image was largely shaped by my Asian upbringing in a Post-Colonial country. As an Asian girl growing up, I was raised on very collectivist values. I was raised to help my family members. I was encouraged to join our family business to help it grow. Any desire to do differently and to pursue my own passions was seen as being selfish and a waste of time. This upbringing might have influenced my forming of a type 2 personality.
Now layer on top of that the self-denial and sacrifice that are a huge part of church culture. Church culture, perpetuates this idea that one must constantly die to their own desires. They must prioritize the needs of others. Am I right?
So I joined mission trip after mission trip, volunteered every extra hour I had to ministry. Because I thought that was what I was meant to do. That was my purpose.
Then I became a mother. As a mother I spent the first 6 months of each child’s life attached to them. I was their only source nutrition. Their very existence depended on me. Feeding them, changing their diapers, rocking them had precedence over my need for sleep or clean hair. And this is widely accepted by our culture. Our culture does not expect any less of our mothers – we laugh off the fact they may not have showered in days.
So for me at least, I felt as though if I didn’t sacrifice my own needs before my family’s then I was not living up to being a good mother and that I would be failing my family – I buried this shame by answering to their every need, meal planning and attempting to keep a pristine home.
But I think often with 2s, we come to expect their self sacrificial ways as normal and we encourage their behaviour with little regard to finding out what their real desires and passions are or valuing who they are beneath their helpful nature.
We did the Enneagram test with our deacons and found that most of them tested as 2s. Most of our volunteers at church are women and because an overwhelming 83% of 2s are women, I’m willing to bet that most of our volunteers are 2s as well.
So what do we do with this information? What do we do when we know someone who is a 2 is always there for us when we need help? What is our response to our volunteers who continue to serve because it is just in their nature to keep serving?
What we need to do is ensure that we don’t affirm their perception that we only see their value when they help. That even if they couldn’t or didn’t volunteer for whatever reason, that they are not failing us, that they are still loved and valued. We need to remind them that their worth goes beyond what they do. That who they are matters beneath what they do.
This Lenten season, take time to look internally to identify where you’ve been trapped by your false self. Do you struggle with insecurities, need for approval and affirmation, need for control and logic, need to take on everything or fix everything? Use the Enneagram to help you identify what drives you. Dig in to find out what your story is.
So that moving forward, when you practice the greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, understand that in loving God with all your heart, you are receiving love without the need to please God, prove yourself to God or perfect yourself before God. Rest in knowing you ARE loved in your entirety. In loving God with all your mind, rest in loving without the need to understand. In loving God with all your body or your soul, rest in relinquishing power and control and surrendering to God.
It is a battle. It is a battle to abandon the ways of our false selves. But Ben and our prayer team are going to be talking about the specific prayer practices our Intelligence types need to engage in to be set free from being stuck in our heart, head or body. In the meantime, I encourage you to take time to reflect on what drives you and why. How that impacts you and the world around you and how that impacts your relationship with God. My prayer for you is that in becoming more aware of who you are and what drives you, you can adopt practices that can hekp you move towards reflecting the image of God within you and resting in and embracing the love of God.