Wounds, Sin, Gospel, and the Enneagram

christ enneagram Jun 20, 2020

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for awhile now, but for reasons of time and focus, it has had to wait. Which brings me to the topic—Wounds, Sin, Gospel, and the Enneagram.

Oh, how I’ve been wanting to write this topic, which has been pounding on my heart, pounding through the Scriptures, showing up in my prayers. This is really the topic that has caused me to stick around the Enneagram, get to know her, sit beneath her wisdom, wait for the Spirit to speak through her.

At the heart, the Enneagram is a means of grace flowing down from above.

That’s because the Enneagram helps me to understand my childhood wound, the sin that so easily entangles, and the shining hope of the Gospel. In other words, she leads me to Christ when what I need is Christ himself, Christ within, Christ before, Christ all around me.

Yes, I love the lessons the Enneagram brings to the workplace. And partnered with the power of Strengths, you get a fuller picture of one’s motivation and wellbeing, performance and satisfaction. But these lessons are but a surface scratch of what’s really available.

My hope is that those who visit the wisdom of these tools will come for the surface but stay for more. 

Childhood Wounds

The Enneagram has helped me to name my childhood wound (each Enneagram Type has one). As a Type Nine, mine is this: “Your presence doesn’t matter.”

I won’t go into details, but for a number of reasons, I picked up the wounding message that said I didn’t really matter.

It was foundationally healing when on a spiritual retreat of great consequence, men around a fire in sack cloths, gave me a new name—the son who matters.

They did not know my great childhood wound—I’m not sure I even knew it—but the Spirit of God revealed the new name to them and they called out to me with it, and I felt more clothed standing in sack cloth, than I ever had before.

That’s because the Spirit of God named me in place of the great wound.

The Habits of Sin

But that doesn’t mean it was settled; you can be named but not live your new name. You can have a new name but not really walk in it.

This is where sin and the Enneagram come in. I’m reading a book by Dr. Chuck DeGroat called “When Narcissism Comes to Church,” and he writes,

“The Enneagram is uninhibited in its use of the language of sin, recognizing an important insight: that sin is not fundamentally about a bad behavior we do, but about habits that become ingrained as we attempt to get primitive needs met. Sin is how we live outside of union with God, who dwells within us (1 Corinthians 3:16) but whose presence we can evade and avoid through self-sabotaging patterns of living.”

Whoa, catch this:

  • Sin is habits to get primitive needs met
  • Sin is living outside of union with God
  • Sin is self-sabotaging patterns of living

The Enneagram helps me to understand my primitive need that was broken—to feel like I really matter—and explains why I do what I do—to bend and flex and accommodate and acquiesce (classic actions of a Type Nine)—in order to feel like I matter.

Did you see that? The bruising develops a wound, the behaviors try to heal the wound, the wound cannot heal this way apart from the salve of God.

Sometimes this leads me down dark paths, sometimes I lose myself, sometimes I have done things I can’t imagine because of this need to matter.

In doing this, I step aside from union with Christ and try to prove I matter, I try to heal myself. But it never works and reinforces the deep wound.

This is my sin, my self-sabotaging behavior revealed by the Enneagram through the Spirit of God. I wonder what is yours? What is your wound, what are your healing behaviors, what efforts do you make apart from Christ to feel whole?

So the Enneagram helps me to understand my primitive need that was broken and explains why I do what I do, but it doesn't leave me there. Under the grace of God, the Enneagram also reveals where Jesus wants to meet me and fill me.

Ahh, the glory of the Gospel!

The Glory of the Gospel

The Apostle Paul writes to the Galatians:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

Although the Galatians had once lived by the Gospel, they had so quickly left her and adopted other gospels, which were not really gospels at all. This habit is not reserved just for the Galatians, we do it today.

We do it when we think we must add something to Jesus to make us saved, loved, and acceptable before God. We do it when our place in the family of God becomes “Jesus + something else.” We do it when we try to heal our wounds by ourselves.

And so for me in my wound, my sin, my story, “Jesus +” becomes “Jesus + meeting other people’s expectations for me.” I am so often tempted to think that what makes me loved and acceptable before God is meeting their expectations: If I meet their expectations, then I will really matter, is the message inside of me.

I am adding to the Gospel of Christ.

But it’s not just me. I asked 25 solid Christians if they do this, and they said yes, and they shared with me their “Jesus +.” (I’ll share their responses sometime.)

But what a lie! We do not need to add anything to Jesus (except our own sin,) and he takes it and washes us whiter than snow. His blood is sufficient for all our sin, and not only that, he attains for us salvation, favor, and eternal inheritance in the Kingdom of God, which meets our deepest needs.

Which grants us new names.

Which heals our deepest wounds.

Which renders our independent behaviors useless.

Thank God for the Gospel of Jesus!

When we think we must add anything to Jesus, that is a false gospel, and we have deserted just like the Galatians did.

Bringing It Together

The Enneagram helped me to see this. I can exchange the lie of performing beyond Jesus, can invite a renewing of the mind, can demolish strongholds that oppose the knowledge of God, and can receive the grace of the Gospel, which is really receiving Him.

In my case, I am a son who matters because Jesus died for me.

Apart from anything I can add—even if I disappoint people, even if I raise havoc, even if I don't feel like doing what you want me to do—Jesus heals my wound, Jesus invites me into himself, Jesus calls me a new name.

I am a son who matters.

Which frees me to live into the glory of the Gospel and enjoy the glory of God my Maker and my Savior, receive the glory of being a son, fufill the glory of the work I am called to do, and join the glory of community to which I belong, the Four Pursuits.

This is why I gather around the Enneagram, that means of grace that when used by the Spirit of God reveals the place of deepest needs and the habits I employ to meet them on my own, which also reveals the healing message of the Gospel and the glory of a life surrendered to Jesus.

It can do the same for you. I pray the Enneagram does this for everyone who encounters it.

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