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 8: The Challenger
Attributes: Self-confident, Decisive, Just
Driving motivation: To be in control
Key verse: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).
The Eight’s desire to avoid feeling vulnerable fuels a need to be in control. They’re strong-willed and decisive and have no qualms stepping into positions of authority. They’re comfortable taking charge, and they usually shine when they do.
A lot of personality types know how to build close and cohesive teams, but no one knows how to get a team to accomplish a goal like an Eight. Without entirely understanding why, people naturally follow this leader.
Eights tend to see the world through a binary lens. To the Eight, things are good or bad, right or wrong, and true or false. This way of looking at the world empowers them to make decisive and definitive decisions where other types might hesitate.
Leading as an Eight:
You don’t shy away from conflict. In fact, you’re often inspired by it. This can be a great trait, provided that you’re careful not to steamroll over everyone.
It’s easy as an Eight to use your forceful personality to get your way, but others will resent it. You need to be very careful about inspiring through intimidation.
Everyone brings unique strengths, perspectives, and opinions to a team. It’s important to be receptive and adapt to other ideas and approaches. A team is stronger when everyone can contribute.
When you believe your method is the only acceptable one, it diminishes what others bring to your ministry.
Choosing battles wisely can be one of your biggest challenges. You’re a powerhouse who’s willing to fight for people and positions you care about. But fighting every battle is a recipe for burnout.
You need to be wise about the mountains you’re willing to die on.
Motivating an Eight:
Eights have a unique view of authority. Your title or position doesn’t tell an Eight you have the right to be a leader—you’ve got to earn their respect. You can expect them to test you. If you don’t earn the right to lead, you’ll end up wrestling with them.
When you understand their personality, you can expect them to challenge and encourage you to be a better leader.
Because Eights aren’t always comfortable being open and vulnerable with their feelings, they might use conflict to surface and clarify relational questions. Remember, the Eight probably doesn’t see conflict the same way you do.
Being able to negotiate a dispute without retreating often creates the bond an Eight desires.
Don’t try to stifle an Eight’s leadership tendencies. Allow them to rally people and lead where it’s appropriate.
They just want an opportunity to express their natural abilities. Eights probably aren’t after your job or position. Don’t be afraid to allow them to shine—it will only benefit your ministry.
Provided the spiritual maturity is there, Eights make great leaders and should be allowed to operate within their strengths. They excel in overseeing ministries or as executive pastors.
As far as volunteers are concerned, you can put them in charge of a summer VBS or outreach and trust them to get it across the finish line. If you have a project with a goal, the Eight is your secret weapon.
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 Peacemaker (Enneagram Nine)