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Leaders in many Christian churches are embracing Enneagram personality typing. I would be very glad to have solidly Reformed feedback on this practice.

Over the years, many personality inventories have become trendy and have helped people think about what they are like and how they interact with others. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, for example, has roots in the work of Carl Jung, a psychologist from about 100 years ago, although the test itself didn’t become available until the 1980s. Since that time, though, there have been many such tests, from the Birkman to StrengthsFinder to the latest trend, the Enneagram. These tests become popular because the insights they give us into ourselves and those around us often “feel” true. 

The theory behind the Enneagram goes all the way back to 14th-century Sufism (a branch of Islam), although the modern Enneagram dates only to the 1970s and ’80s, and any direct connections to religion are no longer clear. The Enneagram suggests that there are nine personality types—those who seek integrity, those who seek personal connection, and so on. 

One thing that all of these personality inventories have in common is that they help us think about our personal strengths and weaknesses as well as the strengths and weaknesses of others. For instance, a person who is an Enneagram Type 1 tends to be a perfectionist. That’s a useful trait, but it could lead to holding others to impossible standards. These insights can help us have patience with others and remind us that we are all valuable people who bring different sets of skills to our community. 

As long as we remember that all of these tests, including the Enneagram, are imperfect representations of who we are, we can gather valuable insights into ourselves and those around us by considering how each of us is unique and made in God’s image.

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