The Enneagram & Noticing
By Gavin Bennett
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief last week’s Practice in triads (15–20 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
1. Were you able to share your spiritual journey with someone these last few weeks? If not, what got in the way? When might you be able to do this?
2. If you were, how was it to share your spiritual journey? Did anything surprise you?
3. As you reflected and shared, did you notice any new patterns or have any new thoughts about your spiritual journey?
4. Why do you think it’s important to have shared your spiritual journey as we continue in this Practice?
Read this overview
As human beings, we are always shifting and adjusting, with change being one of the few constants in our lives. This perpetual changing isn’t just something that happens over time (e.g. moving, graduating, having kids, etc.); we find our very emotions and thoughts fluctuating from moment to moment and experience to experience: getting cut off in traffic can transform your good mood into a not-so-good mood, learning that you passed your final can change your anxiety into relief, an off-hand comment from a colleague can introduce confusion or worry.
One goal of apprenticing Jesus is to actively work towards harnessing the ongoing change in our lives in a positive direction, towards growth (for the benefit of both ourselves and others). It might surprise you to hear that noticing is one of the first and best ways that we can participate in our own transformation, converting unconscious change into intentional growth. As we become aware of our emotions and actions, we begin to draw lines back to our core beliefs and narratives, and remove power from our shadow side or “false self” (e.g. bitterness, an angry outburst or violent rage, irritability, etc.). In doing this, we can re-distribute that power towards uncovering our new self in Christ (e.g. love, joy, peace, etc.).
This week, our Practice will be to use a particularly helpful Enneagram tool called the Levels of Development, which will help us increase our self-awareness as we begin to notice patterns in our lives (healthy and unhealthy) and work to harness our habits for our growth.
Work through these discussion questions (10 minutes)
1. In what ways did you see yourself changing and shifting before the Naming Your Stage of Apprenticeship Practice? How do you hope to grow as we learn about the stages of apprenticeship?
2. Reflect on the idea that “noticing is one of the best ways that we can participate in our own transformation.” How does this idea strike you? How have you seen it to be true in your own life?
Discuss the coming week’s Practice (5 minutes)
The Enneagram is a tool that followers of Jesus have used for more than a millennia to become aware of, or notice, our shadow side. It is a theory of personality that deals with your root sin and root motivation. Over time, Enneagram theorists have watched and charted patterns of health for each Enneagram type that they call “Levels of Development.” You can read about Levels of Development on The Enneagram Institute’s website, but essentially all 9 Enneagram types have varying dimensions and seasons of health: Healthy, Average, and Unhealthy. But, while all 9 types have the same Levels (from Healthy to Unhealthy), each Level looks different for each number. This week, we want to explore what the nine varying dimensions of health are for our type and to begin to start watching for those in our lives.
Step 1: Identify Your Type
Start by figuring out which type your resonate with most. You can explore the Enneagram in many ways:
Sit under an Enneagram expert (like AJ Sherrill at Bridgetown’s Enneagram Conference)
Read through various Enneagram books (like The Road Back to You by Cron and Stabile, The Enneagram by Rohr, or The Sacred Enneagram by Heuertz) or explore the Enneagram types online (at sites like the Enneagram Institute)
Take an Enneagram test (like the one on the Enneagram Institute’s website)
Go back through our Practice on the Enneagram
Step 2: Familiarize Yourself With Your Levels of Development
After your have figured out your type (or narrowed it down to the top two or three), read through the nine Levels of Development for your type. You can find these in the chapter that correlates to your number in The Wisdom of The Enneagram book or in the middle of type description page online for free: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
Remember that while each type has the same nine Levels of Development, each Level will look different for each number. So as you work through the list for your type, start to pay attention to what resonates in each of your nine Levels. By working through some of the questions below, you can figure out what your baseline is, which can help you notice when you’re operating below your healthy space and help you figure out ways to work towards greater health. It might be helpful to journal through the following questions:
(After reading through each Level) Where do I see this to be most evident in my life?
Which Level sounds most like me on my good days? On my bad days?
Which Level do I think or feel I am at most often?
Which Level would those who know me best say is my average? (It could even be helpful to ask someone who knows you to read through the nine Levels of Development for your type and tell you what they think.)
Step 3: Invite the Spirit to Help You Notice
When it comes to spiritual formation, we do not change ourselves. Instead, we link arms in community with those around us to create space for the Holy Spirit to change us. That said, spend some time before God with these new revelations about your personality (both the darker and the lighter sides). Invite God’s Spirit to help you begin to notice when you’re acting out of these varying Levels and to begin doing a deeper work of healing in you.
Step 4: Notice & Reflect
Very simply, the last step is to start noticing the changes in your life (emotions, thoughts, etc.). As you notice them, continue to invite God’s Spirit to transform you into the image of Christ. And develop a rhythm of time (daily, weekly, or otherwise) to reflect on what you’ve noticed. One helpful tool for this might be the Prayer of Examen.
Work through these discussion questions before you call it a night (5–10 minutes)
1. Do you have a good idea about what your Enneagram number is? Have you ever looked into the nine Levels of Development for your type? If so, what have you learned?
2. What role has the Holy Spirit played in your spiritual formation? What role would you like the Holy Spirit to play in partnership with you as you grow?
3. Any creative ideas or suggestions about this Practice?