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. 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:
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:
These resources will develop your skills as a leader and manager and enable you to develop a strong team.
Type 4: The Individualist
Attributes: Romantic, Sensitive, Intuitive
Driving motivation: To be unique
Key verse: “Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior” (Psalm 27:7–9, NIV).
Fours are naturally perceptive and reflective. They value real intimacy and authenticity. Often considered the most romantic Enneagram type, they long to be connected to God, to others, and to their daily activities.
The tragedy is that Fours often struggle the most to feel a sense of connection that they want so badly.
They see themselves as unique and different from others and believe they possess special talents and remarkable insights—but tend to see themselves as uniquely broken.
They value honesty, wonder, and inspiration, often turning over concepts and ideas until they can see them from every angle. They are always on the lookout for creative methods to express themselves.
Leading as a Four:
The strength of Four leaders lies in your ability to inspire others toward introspection and self-renewal. Your ability to function empathetically and analytically allows you to create bonds with volunteers and help them find meaning in their area of responsibility.
Because Fours tend to look for layers of meaning in everything, you’ll often find meaning where none was intended. So, you should be extremely aware of your tendency to take things personally and dwell on perceived slights.
Even though your ability to forge interpersonal relationships is impressive, subordinates can feel like they are constantly walking on eggshells.
It’s also important to be cautious about wearing your emotions on your sleeves. A Four’s sensitive and insightful nature is an incredible strength. While you can often be a fun-loving and gregarious person, you probably tend toward sullenness and melancholy, too.
Leading a team requires emotional stability and consistency. You should be mindful of how your emotional thermostat impacts your environment.
Motivating a Four:
The things that drive others don’t motivate Fours. Fours want to find meaning in what they’re doing and are generally not competitive or reward-driven individuals.
A Four will gladly do the most mundane and repetitive tasks if they feel it serves a higher cause or purpose, and they’ll balk at the most high-profile job if it feels meaningless. As often as possible, allow Fours to gravitate toward tasks they find meaningful—and they will deliver.
When you don’t have that option, don’t try to motivate them with carrots or sticks but help them discern the deeper purpose behind their role.
Be careful not to micromanage the Four. They perform best when they’re allowed to fulfill tasks and responsibilities in a way that makes the most sense to them. As long as their method isn’t working against your vision or goals, allow them some leeway to perform in their own way.
Fours are hyper-aware of their faults and deficiencies. Unlike other personality types. Because of this, you can motivate them by celebrating their strengths and identifying their unique contributions rather than criticizing their missteps.
Fours can function well in various roles. The key lies in finding areas where they feel like they can make a difference or understand how they’re fulfilling some greater purpose.
Whether they’re greeting before a service, leading children’s worship, or functioning as a church treasurer, they’ll shine when they genuinely believe they’re contributing value.
Wherever you assign them, give Fours an outlet for personal expression and creativity. This is just as true in choosing activities for a lesson as it is in art and music.
Building Better Teams
People function best when they are plugged into ministry roles where they are a natural 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. Teams that fit together well are helping churches thrive!
Valuing the various personalities in our churches empowers us to do better ministry. Once we fully understand the diversity of our churches we have the ability to:
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)