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Girls Ministers, High School, Leadership, Middle School, Small Group Leaders

The Enneagram: How It Can Help You Be a Better Student Leader, Part 1

I guess most, if not all, of your teen girls know their number. Not their jersey number. Not their class rank number. Their Enneagram number.If you’re not yet familiar, the Enneagram (Ennea=9, Gram=Diagram) is simply a self-discovery “map” for personal growth based on nine basic personality types. It clearly (and pretty accurately) describes why you think, feel, and behave in particular ways based upon your core fears and core desires. So, how is the Enneagram different from other personality assessments? “Myers-Briggs is about your nature. The Enneagram is about your nurture,” says Darrin Patrick, a teaching pastor at Seaside Church in St. Louis.Patrick says, “Knowing your personality gives you somewhat of a super power—it can help you love others better. It’s all about leading yourself so that you can better lead and love others,” he notes.Carey Nieuwhof, a leadership guru at Connexus Church in Canada, concurs. 

“Self-aware leaders are always better leaders.” 

Nieuwhof writes about Five Surprising Truths About the Enneagram and Your True Leadership Potential

  1. Your emotional/spiritual health is the difference between awesome and awful;

  2. Underneath your wiring is a wound (remember what Patrick said about your nurture);

  3. You won’t get healthy by accident; 

  4. Healthy leaders create healthy organizations. Unhealthy leaders create unhealthy ones; 

  5. Self-awareness is spiritual awareness.

In addition to understanding yourself as a leader, the Enneagram is a tool that can help you better relate to your teen girls and understand the why of what they do.Beth McCord is a pastor’s wife who lives in the Nashville area and has been teaching and leading on the Enneagram, specifically how it can affect relationships among Christ followers. In addition to her insights on the Enneagram and the marriage relationship, McCord also gives top five ways in how the Enneagram can help you as a ministry leader

  1. Learn how to communicate the gospel in a more powerful, specific way that resonates for each personality type; 

  2. Understand how others see circumstances from very different perspectives, helping you navigate relationships and projects better; 

  3. Learn how to improve your communication with different personality types; 

  4. Develop compassion for how others feel in a given situation, helping you better disciple and mentor them in becoming their best self; 

  5. Learn specific ways to help accelerate growth in others in a way that is edifying to their individual personality type.

In total, there are nine Enneagram personality types. There are other similar names sometimes given to each one (as indicated in parentheses), but these probably are the most common names used. My guess is that when you look over them, certain students will immediately pop into mind for each one:

  • Type 1—The Perfectionist (Reformer)

  • Type 2—The Helper (Advisor)

  • Type 3—The Achiever (Performer)

  • Type 4—The Individualist (Romantic)

  • Type 5—The Investigator (Thinker)

  • Type 6—The Loyalist (Guardian, Skeptic)

  • Type 7—The Enthusiast (Optimist)

  • Type 8—The Challenger (Protector)

  • Type 9—The Peacemaker (Mediator)

Now, we all know that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14) in the image of God Himself (Gen. 1:27). We are incredibly complex and multi-faceted. To think anyone, much less everyone, can be “pigeon-holed” into a set of personality parameters is impractical and unwise. However, that certainly doesn’t mean that certain common traits or attributes can’t exist.Later this week, we’ll look at some specifics of each personality type on how the Enneagram can benefit you as you better lead students in ministry. We’ll discuss best attributes, worst attributes, the main focus of attention for each type and their core motivations (fears, desires, weaknesses, longings), how each type sees the world, how they see the church, do’s and dont’s, blind spots and “super powers.” And for some extra fun, we’ll also look at some “famous” examples of each personality type!If you or your girls are looking to discover their enneagram type, you can take this easy, 5 minute test online by clicking here. It’s free! It will be helpful to know your number and your girls’ numbers before reading part two that will be released in just a few days. Stay tuned!


Vivian Penuel is the Serve Specialist and Internship Coordinator at Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, TN. She is a Type 9 (Wing 1) married to a Type 6, mother to a 1 and a 7, and mother-in-law to a 3 and a 6. On the side, she is adamant about proper form in teaching her Group Fitness classes (her Wing 1) and begs her husband often to take her to play golf (some of her Type 7).