“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3:5–6)
I love personality tests. DiSC. MBTI. StrengthsFinder. The Enneagram is my favourite. In my quest to understand myself and help those around me do so as well, personality tests are a shortcut of sorts to self-reflection and relationship-building, respectively.
My interests in these “personal assessment tools” have regularly been met with both enthusiasm and cynicism alike. These tests have brought clarity to the teams I’m in and reduced conflict as we work together. There are now explanations for certain behaviours that could have once confused or distanced each other. But from those less convinced, I also see how these explanations can become excuses for rudeness, rashness, or self-righteousness.
In my foray down the Enneagram rabbit hole, I was drawn into the fascinating explanations for each of the nine Enneagram “types” numbered one to nine. This particular test explains each Type’s motivations and fears, which gives insight to not just why they act and interact the way they do, but also what they seek after and avoid. I eventually found myself reading copious amounts of Enneagram literature, following Instagram accounts dedicated to the Enneagram, and convincing my friends to discover their Enneagram type. I became an Enneagram evangelist.
It was a few of my close friends and church leaders who pulled the brakes on my obsession. “You are not a number,” they said. And I knew deep inside they were right. I had begun to filter so much of what I knew and communicated about myself through the collective lens of the Enneagram and every personality test result I’d ever taken.
Perhaps horoscopes, tarot cards, and other attempts at divination have a similar hold on people for a similar reason — we want to know the unknown. We can trace this desire for God-like knowing back to the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:5–6), where the fall of humankind arose from the deceptive idea that ‘knowing’ negates any need for God or a relationship with Him.
The biblical book of wisdom, Proverbs, also urges us to guard against sole reliance on our own understanding (Prov 3:5), and that includes the understanding of others. This includes the best of traditional and academic sources, because of humankind’s fallen tendency to trust in their knowledge and wisdom above that of God. We are to submit all that we are, known and unknown, to God as He has made Himself known to us, and to trust Him more than anyone else as we navigate this world, our relationships, and our inner selves (3:6).
Wanting to understand yourself more is not a sin. The issue is what drives this search for self and where it takes us — away from God or towards Him. Personality tests are useful in our self-reflection, if we ask God to reveal through them the hidden motivations and fears of our heart. This is so that we can develop a “sanctified self-awareness”, or a better sense of who we are in Christ; not simply for self-transformation, but for surrender. Because rather than using these test results to make excuses for our behaviour, they can be submitted to God — along with our whole person and personality — for Him to “make [our] paths straight” as we are transformed more and more into the likeness of the person of Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, as my Creator God, You have perfect knowledge of me and all my ways. You know what motivates me and what I fear, what I need to die to in order for Christ to be the Lord of every area of my life. Transform me into the likeness of Jesus as I surrender my whole person to You. Amen.
1. What is your relationship with personality tests like? Might you be relying too much on them to define who you are? Conversely, what has God shown you about yourself?
2. Think about your personality test results. How can they help you identify areas in your life that are not fully submitted to God? Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and revelation — then pray for yourself!
KNOW THE WORD
Allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate His truths:
– Hebrews 4:12–13
– James 3:13–17
– Psalm 139
Explore Christian opinions on the Enneagram and its roots at the following sources.
Should Christians Use the Enneagram?
The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The Enneagram Goes to Church by Todd Wilson