I Am Not My Enneagram

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an epic Enneagram bashing post in which I rant and rave about how it’s somehow unbiblical and leading you down a path of apostasy/opioid addiction.

If you benefit from Enneagram test, bully for you (that phrase needs to come back).

(Note: If you’re unfamiliar, the Enneagram test is the hipper, Brooklyn-living, kombucha-drinking, artisanal pickle-making cousin of the Meyers-Briggs test. It’s a personality test.)

And for full disclosure, I haven’t actually taken the Enneagram test. Well, I did once but it was on a shady website that looked like it had been designed in MySpace.

I have, however, taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test, and the results were, to put it nicely, less than flattering. According to the test, I am an INTJ, which is also what Vladimir Putin, Frederick Nietzsche, and Walter White are/were.

One website says this about INTJs:

INTJs are brilliant and confident in bodies of knowledge they have taken the time to understand, but unfortunately the social contract is unlikely to be one of those subjects. White lies and small talk are hard enough as it is for a type that craves truth and depth, but INTJs may go so far as to see many social conventions as downright stupid.

Yikes.

But there is some truth in this description, at least as it applies to me. I can be incredibly arrogant, stubborn, and hardheaded when it comes to particular subjects in which I have even the smallest amount of knowledge.

I do tend to view many social conventions as stupid, which can lead to me doing things without considering how they affect other people. And because I’m an awkward introvert, I’m not very good at small talk (okay, I’m terrible at it and I apologize to all the people I’ve made uncomfortable).

But reading this description doesn’t discourage me. Why? Because personality tests leave out one critical element: the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life. 

I am a child of God, united to Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I am no longer a slave to sin and the old me, which had no problem with telling lies and arrogantly dismissing other people, is dead.

Every day, my personality and character are being slowly molded into the image of Jesus Christ, who supersedes all personality tests. I am being transformed from one degree of glory to another and nothing, not even the limitations of my personality, can keep God from achieving his purposes in my life.

To be clear, I think personality tests can be helpful in some ways. They can give us more understanding of who we are and what makes us tick. But I tend to view them the same way I view secular psychologists and therapists: very good at making observations but unable to provide a true solution. 

In other words, God has given many non-Christians great amounts of wisdom when it comes to understanding human behavior. I have really benefited from reading people like Brene Brown (not sure if she’s a Christian) and recommend her books to people.

However, personality tests and secular psychologists don’t understand the glorious reality of the Triune God dwelling in me. I am not ultimately defined by my personality, family history, biology, or anything else. My identity is in Christ, and that changes everything.

There are strengths and weaknesses to my personality. And the reality is that I’m probably not going to turn into a flamboyant extrovert who enjoys schmoozing people.

But my Enneagram number or Meyers-Briggs type don’t define me. Christ defines me and he’s not done working on me.

Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer. I drink too much coffee and know too much about Star Wars. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook

10 comments

  • Very Interesting. I once did my Enneagram also and realized that a lot of the resulting information about me was true or very near true and that I was ok with it because GOD can work with anything..even me. Bottom line I analyze and investigate everything. People especially because I grew up trusting no one and became a expert at it. Anyway enough, as you said JESUS is doing amazing things inside me and It’s all good. I watched, immediately, Brene Brown Sunday Sermon (you tube) Jan 2018. A lot of what she shared was very important information ( to me ) especially toward the end, but my impression was that she is Catholic Episcopalian w/ maybe a wider view then traditional. Peace.

  • I don’t know what I just read.
    It’s the first time I see the Myers Briggs theory and the Enneagram being related with religion in a text.
    I think you have taken the 16personalities description to the very truth. Vladimir Putin being an INTJ is debatable a lot (by, perhaps, he is an ISTP, actually).
    You have a hell of a Fi cognitive function to be an INTJ. Very rare IMO somebody of this type using religious arguments to justify why these personalities description doesn’t describes you entirely (they can’t really).

  • Stephen, you might find Your Enneagram Coach of interest. My wife and I started the business as an overflow of our pastoral work (I am a PCA Executive Pastor). Much of what you said in your post we use in our coaching and courses.

  • Thanks for taking a moment and making a rather powerful point. For my grad classes in organizational development, we had to take many (*MANY*) different types of tests (including Kolb Learning Style, conflict/resolution style). In general when it comes to such tests, I personally struggle with the dichotomy of not always being satisfied with how God made me (i.e. not having any “left brain” items in StrengthsFinder) BUT also sensing these tests create boxes that shouldn’t define me. This was a great reminder that Scripture clearly states that we can do ALL THINGS (no matter if its in our personality realm or not) through CHRIST.

  • INTJ here, as well, but I don’t see our personality type as needing a solution. God designed us to be exactly who we are in this moment. INTJ does define me, to a “T” actually. It isn’t *all* that defines me, though, just my natural tendencies. Thankfully, I have a good Father who has a plan and a place for me, even as an INTJ, already in mind,

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