As ministry leaders, we are not exempt from the mistake of thinking that everyone looks at life the same way we do. We assume the volunteers we lead have similar needs and are driven by the same desires.
This sometimes makes it hard for us as ministry leaders to understand the unique motivations, concerns, and styles of the staff and volunteers we serve.
On the surface, the Enneagram looks like any other personality test. It features nine distinct ways of looking at the world. But it also examines the unique ways that each type responds to living in this broken and often confusing world.
The Enneagram doesn’t just describe a person’s personality, it helps us understand what motivates him or her. It encourages us as ministry leaders to be mindful of our perspectives—and perspectives of our teams—in a way that can help us:
- Identify the strengths and challenges of the individuals on our teams
- Create harmony and operate more effectively
- Maximize everyone’s contribution
- Inspire team members with guidance that empowers and invigorates
This series of articles will improve your ability to lead and manage your staff and volunteers. If you’re unsure about your Enneagram type or want to give the test to your volunteers and staff members, you can take a free online assessment like the one at YourEnneagramCoach.com.
How to Use These Articles
This series of articles examines each of the nine Enneagram types, and includes the following elements:
- Attributes: Three adjectives that describe each type.
- Driving motivation: This section helps you understand what desires and fears drive a specific type’s behavior.
- Key verse: Each personality type has a verse with a helpful reminder to turn their attention to God.
- About the type: This is a brief overview of each type.
- Leading as your type: Each personality has unique strengths as a leader. Here we examine those strengths and offer some suggestions for overcoming the corresponding weaknesses.
- Motivating each type: For example, if you’re a Type Eight trying to understand how to motivate a Four, this section will help.
These resources will develop your skills as a leader and manager and enable you to develop a strong team.
Type 5: The Investigator
Attributes: Perceptive, Independent, Curious
Driving motivation: To be knowledgeable
Key verse: “My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge” (Proverbs 5:1–2, NIV).
Fives are driven to accumulate knowledge and expertise. Never content to shrug and say, “That’s just the way it is,” Fives have a never-ending curiosity and desire to get to the bottom of things.
When something captures their attention, they throw all their energy into it until they completely understand it. The Five is often an expert in any number of dissimilar disciplines.
The Five doesn’t take what people tell them at face value. They love to challenge assumptions and seldom feel the need to adjust their thoughts or position to accommodate the majority opinion.
But it can be difficult for Fives to communicate their emotions or to deal with the feelings of others. They’re much more comfortable in a world of ideas than they are processing emotions.
So even when they’re dealing with something deep and personal, the Five will often detach from the topic adopting a more clinical objectivity.
Shy and withdrawn, Fives labor under the fear that they will never have the time and privacy to pursue their interests. Others can see them as withholding, detached, or isolating, but it’s not personal. They’re consumed by the need to follow their interests or pursue a new rabbit trail.
Leading as a Five:
Many Fives avoid leadership positions. It’s not because you’re not qualified—in fact, you’re often exceedingly qualified. It’s just that you find dealing with others exhausting.
When put in a leadership position, Fives throw themselves into becoming experts in their field, but that expertise doesn’t make up for a lack of connection with others.
Sometimes the trick is putting your amazing research gifts to work on understanding how to better connect with others. The techniques that help you communicate and connect with others might feel like they lack authenticity or feel insincere.
But the more you work at forging a connection with others, the easier and more natural it becomes. Occasionally, Fives come across as distant and cold, but learning methods to help you be more open and warm can work wonders.
Fives are naturally drawn to others who share your appreciation for intellectual pursuits. To lead well, you need to develop an appreciation for gifts you don’t possess yourself.
Identifying relational and emotional strengths in your staff and volunteers will allow you to ensure the whole organization is better structured to meet people’s needs.
Motivating a Five:
When it comes to authority figures, Fives can often come across as aloof. This isn’t personal. The Five understands what’s at stake and is “studying” those in charge until they can determine how to best interact with them.
Be sensitive to the Five’s need to collect data, and don’t push them to connect deeply on your timetable.
Fives can often worry that they’re not able to do “normal” activities as well as others. They live a lot of their lives in their heads and are not inclined to focus on mundane, everyday activities.
When those kinds of activities are expected of them, they’ll often worry about their performance. Find little ways to assure Fives that they’re doing a great job.
The Five shines in positions that allow them to dive deep into their role. They excel when it comes to tech, audio-visual, sound, marketing, and other areas where there’s a wealth of information for them to parse and digest.
If a position requires a lot of emoting or deep interpersonal interaction, they’re likely to struggle. When it comes to ministry, Fives excel with older kids and adults.
With children’s ministry, they might struggle with over preparing and putting together material that goes over kid’s heads or doesn’t connect with their hearts.
Building Better Teams
People operate best when they’re plugged into roles where they really fit. A lot of the ministry struggles churches experience come from filling vacancies with whoever is available.
Hopefully, the Enneagram will help you better understand your unique management style—and how you can position people according to their strengths. Because teams that fit together well can help churches thrive!
Valuing the various personalities in our churches empowers us to do better ministry. Once we understand the rich diversity of our churches we can:
- Appreciate the balance that comes from our various strengths
- Quit struggling to copy the leadership styles of others and lead from our own strengths
- Organize our teams so that everyone gets an opportunity to do great work
- Abandon a one-size-fits-all approach to encouragement and empowerment
Additional Articles for Leading Volunteers with the Enneagram
- How to Lead Volunteers: The Reformer (Enneagram One)
- How to Lead Volunteers: The Helper (Enneagram Two)
- How to Lead Volunteers: The Achiever (Enneagram Three)
- How to Lead Volunteers: The Individualist (Enneagram Four)