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Avoiding 3 Common Pitfalls of the Enneagram

By Jeff Jamba

Enneafever!  It seems everyone in ministry is talking about it.  Andy Stanley ( recently devoted not one, but two leadership podcasts to it.  In particular among younger leaders, it’s growing popularity and staying power only seems to continue to gain traction.

What is the Enneagram?  The Enneagram is at its core a simple tool to help understand your basic motivations and how you see the world around you.  Understanding this helps you interact better with others on your team and in your life.  I am not an expert and feel like I am late to the party.  Yet I can see 3 mistakes that leaders are making when it comes to the Enneagram:

Pitfall # 1: I choose to ignore it.

Again, younger leaders in particular love it.  They are trying to understand themselves and their place in the world.  This is very good.  Every leader should care about this and become as effective as possible in raising up the leadership of the next generation.

When you speak their language, it expands your ability to lead them to greater influence and maturity in their leadership.  Understanding this tool will help you see who God created other leaders to be.  In turn, they will see more clearly how they can make the greatest impact on their world, because they will understand themselves and those around them more fully.

Don’t ignore the invitation this tool gives you to raise the leadership ability other leaders that you influence.

Pitfall #2: I use it as an excuse.

The goal is not to figure out what your Ennegram number is so you can say, “Well, I am a _________, so that makes it okay for me to _______________.”  Using any tool to avoid growth in our character or to justify negative or sinful patterns of relationship is obviously not okay.

It’s also not an excuse to avoid parts of your job that you would rather not do.  In any job, but especially in ministry, we all have parts of our job that don’t necessarily fill us with joy.  Don’t use your Enneagram number to pawn off work that is yours to do.

Pitfall #3: I overvalue it.

The Enneagram is just a tool.  Much like the Myers-Briggs personality testing, it is just one perspective.  It will be dethroned at some point by another new tool or framework for understanding ourselves and others.  Not because it will cease to be valuable, but because different seasons and contexts require different tools.  When we put too much stock into one measurement or tool, it puts us at risk of becoming ineffective over the long run in our leadership.

Want to get started with the Enneagram or take a next step in using it to grow in your leadership effectiveness?  Here’s a helpful internet round up of some great places to start:

And you can find an interview with all 9 types there in the summer of 2019.

Also, don’t forget we are here to help coach you in your next ministry season!  Whether you want help knowing the best way to use tools to help you grow in your personal leadership ability, or you feel stuck in ministry right now, we’d love to help give you personalized ministry coaching to help you not just survive but thrive in ministry.  Get in touch with us at 616-218-8895 or email us at


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