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 9: The Peacemaker
Attributes: Receptive, Balanced, Easygoing
Driving motivation: To be calm and at peace
Key verse: “For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (1 Timothy 1:6, NIV).
The Nine’s whole goal in life is to bring people together. They hunger to be at peace personally and interpersonally. They are masters of reconciliation and excel at helping others overcome differences and build bridges.
They believe that people are generally good at heart and want to give others the benefit of the doubt. They know that others tend to see them as Pollyannaish, but they don’t care. They long for connection, and it drives them to be excessively optimistic.
Nines are gentle, laid-back, and warm. Others in their presence can’t help but feel accepted and loved. The Nine can’t stomach conflict, and because change upsets their sense of peace, they’re not too comfortable with that either.
Too often, Nines will tell you what they think you need to hear, but it’s not always reflective of their real feelings. And when they don’t say “no,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re saying “yes.”
Leading as a Nine:
The Nine can see things from the vantage point of everyone involved. This can make it hard for you to land on a point of view that’s your own. And when you do finally choose a position, you might have a hard time contending for it.
For the Nine, finding a solution that everyone’s happy with is more important than getting your way. This can make leading hard for you because so many leadership decisions leave someone frustrated or disappointed.
In a situation with a lot of options, you might have a hard time choosing a direction. You’re much more aware of what you don’t want to do than what you should do, and once you eliminate the bad options, you’ll struggle to choose from what remains.
Motivating a Nine:
Nines are pretty oblivious to authority. They want to work with you because it’s in their nature. The only thing that will make a Nine difficult to work with is if they feel an authority figure is intentionally sowing disharmony and conflict.
Nines don’t really know how to communicate feelings of anger or resentment, and this can often make them act out in passive-aggressive ways. They might promise to deliver on an expectation or responsibility and just not follow through.
If you have to talk to a Nine about their poor performance, realize that there’s probably more going on. If you can encourage them to express their frustration or disappointment, that’s often enough to clear up performance issues.
The Nine functions well in any number of positions, but they’re in their sweet spot when they’re taking care of and guiding others. They are phenomenal as small-group leaders and in pastoral roles.
The only place they struggle is being put in roles where conflict is to be expected or disharmony needs to be endured.
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)
- How to Lead Volunteers: The Investigator (Enneagram Five)
- How to Lead Volunteers: The Loyalist (Enneagram Six)
- How to Lead Volunteers: The Enthusiast (Enneagram Seven)
- How to Lead Volunteers: The Challenger (Enneagram Eight)