How the Enneagram is Helping Me Grow as a Leader

It seems like everywhere you turn in the Christian world right now, someone is talking about the Enneagram. There are books, podcasts and blogs popping up everywhere.

I was first introduced to it two years ago as part of a leadership training I did with Katie through Crosspoint.

If you aren’t familiar, here’s a helpful description from Crosspoint:

We are in Christ so that we may become like Christ. (Ephesians 3:17) This is the journey of Christian spiritual formation. It requires a self-clarity anchored in the reality of being created in the image of God and re-created in the likeness of Christ. It involves ‘putting off’ the old way of being and ‘putting on’ the new way of being by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:20-24) Without a greater awareness of the unconscious motivations that impact our decisions and relationships, we remain stuck.

Each personality style carries a particular challenge to Christian maturity. This is what the desert fathers and mothers of the third and fourth century discovered. These spiritual guides were concerned about unacknowledged patterns that kept Christians from a deeper walk with Christ. As they listened and prayed, various patterns began to emerge. The individual Fruits of the Spirit (nine godly virtues) faced the corruptive power of nine specific vices. And it seemed to them that each virtue was susceptible to a particular vice. True sanctification of the heart would be impossible without addressing this subtle but sinful reality.

What I have found most helpful is that at the beginning of taking the Enneagram, it shows you your personality style. The way that you perceive reality, process reality and how you present yourself to the world around you.

In light of that, here are some ways it is helping me as a leader:

Helping me to know the mask I wear. Most adults and leaders are not self aware. Most of the people I meet with do not know how they are wired, how that wiring works, what they are best suited to do or not do. Knowing this one thing helps to save you a lot of heartache when it comes to figuring out a job, where to serve in a church or what would make you excited in the morning.

Many people also don’t understand the mask that they wear. The Enneagram really helped me understand the mask I wear, not only to protect myself in relationships, but also to get ahead. It really does help you understand the sins and tendencies that will bring you down. Sadly, many people will take the Enneagram or any test and say, “Well I’m just this or that, so that’s all there is to it.” That isn’t it or the end, and that is a sad excuse to stay stuck.

Which leads to the next one…

Helps those closest to me challenge me and pray for me. I’m an 8 on the Enneagram, which means I bring a lot of energy and intensity to everything I do and every relationship I have. I often joke that if you want something done and don’t care how it gets done, send an 8. If you want it done a specific way, send a 1. If you want it done efficiently, send a 3.

Knowing how I’m wired not only helps me process what I’m feeling and thinking when things happen, but it helps those around me understand that as well. It helps them to give grace when needed, but also to push on me when needed. They can also point out my blindspots a lot faster than simply guessing if I am that way.

If you are a friend with someone who is a 7, they can very easily be the life of the party, but they can also be impulsive, all over the map and lean towards escapism in unhealthy places. Knowing this is incredibly helpful not only for the person but for those around them.

Helps me to appreciate others wiring and give grace to them. Most people know that everyone is not wired like they are, but we rarely live like that is true. The Enneagram has really helped me understand how others are created, how they process and see things and how they protect themselves. 1’s are incredibly hard on things, they love things to be done well and perfectly (to their standards). They are also 10 times harder on themselves than on those around them. Knowing this has allowed me to extend a lot of grace to 1’s and help me understand the frustration they experience.

If you are friends with a 2 on the Enneagram, they love to help people and are often right in the center of helping to make things happen. But they also struggle to know what they need in a situation because they are often so focused on helping others and meeting their needs. Knowing this is enormously helpful to know how someone needs to pace themselves and make sure they have strong boundaries for rest and rejuvenation.

This matters in relationships because many times we will look at how others see the world and dismiss it because it is different than our viewpoint, or we will see how someone struggles with something and if we don’t struggle with that, we can easily look down on them or wonder why that is such a stumbling block to them. I feel like understanding this has raised my ability to give grace in situations that in the past I would’ve given up on someone.

Helps those closest to me understand my reactions and how I process the world. While the Enneagram has been a help to me in relationships, it has been a help to those closest to me as well as we’ve discussed what we’re learning together. This one point was one of the biggest aha moments for Katie and me in our marriage.

If you’re married, do you know how your spouse processes the world? You might know their reactions to things because you are so used to it by now, but do you know why they react that way? Where that comes from?

Most people don’t, but that one piece of information is incredibly important and helpful. Your spouse might get angry easily, but do you know why? People get angry for different reasons. That is how they process the world. Your spouse might shut down emotionally, but do you know why? They might look at the world through lenses of fear, melancholy, co-dependence, or being focused on their image.

All of those things matter and are important. And knowing these helps with the next one.

Helps me to know if my reactions or processing are sins. Getting angry isn’t always a sin, but sometimes it is. Isolating isn’t always a sin, but it can be. Being incredibly helpful and others-focused is a great quality, but it can be a sin. Getting things done is incredibly important and will make you very successful, but it can be destructive.

It is understanding yourself in the light of the person God created and called you to be that you are able to understand if something is a sin.

Being able to articulate that this is my childhood wound, this is how that has affected my life, this is how I have found redemption from it, is crucial in our journey to being whole in Christ. Being able to know this is why I’m fearful, anxious, frugal, emotionally sensitive, and what parts of those feelings and actions are sins or not is really important. I think it gives a bigger picture of humanity.

It keeps you from imploding. The last thing the Enneagram has helped me with as a leader is protecting from implosion. Now, the reality is that all of us are a choice away from wrecking our lives, but the Enneagram has helped me know what can wreck my life, what struggle can bring me or another person down. And they are different.

Another important aspect has come out of talking to counselors who have been using the Enneagram, and it is this: What made you successful in your 20’s and 30’s can often be the thing that brings you down in your 40’s and 50’s.

We have all seen this. The hard driving 28 year old who starts a business and “makes it happen” quickly becomes the tyrant no one wants to work for when he’s 42.

The person who is always helping others early in life who becomes co-dependent in relationships, and now they don’t know who they are without people.

The person who is the life of the party and the one you always want to have around because of how spontaneous and fun they are, but in their 40’s they are irresponsible and too impulsive as they switch from job to job.

Knowing the resourceful and non-resourceful side of your personality is crucial to knowing what will bring you down and the road to health.

Links for Leaders 12/8/17

It’s the weekend…finally. The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Below, you’ll find some articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

Before diving into those, in case you missed them this week. Here are the top 3 posts from my blog this week that I hope you find helpful:

I’ve also begun a new hobby, a podcast with my good friend Casey Cease called Leadership ConversationsOur goal is to have the conversations leaders wish they could have or have in their heads so that they can win at leadership. I’d love for you to check it out.

Now, onto some of the posts I enjoyed this week:

Christmas is almost here, which means time for gifts and some time off. If you’re a leader, this is a great time to grab a great book. Here are 18 books Brian Dodd thinks every leader needs to read in 2018 (I’ve read some of these and he’s right).

Christmas is a challenging season for everyone, but for pastors it can be especially hard if they don’t plan well and think through it. Chuck Lawless shares 10 things for pastors to do differently this month that I found to be really helpful.

Sleep is a challenge for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, sleep is crucial not only to health and longevity, but effectiveness. In fact, as one blog put it, sleep is a gift.

This article by Brian Jones on Inside the mind of a disgruntled church member is a must read for any pastor or person who attends a church.

December is a busy month for everyone, but especially pastors. What can you do? Tyler Reagin has some great insights on how to lead and rest during the holiday season.

Links for Leaders 11/24/17 [Holiday Weekend Edition]

It’s the weekend…finally. The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Below, you’ll find some articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

Before diving into those, in case you missed them this week. Here are the top 3 posts from my blog this week that I hope you find helpful:

Now, onto the articles I came across that I hope will help you:

When we think of leaders, we often think of hard driving, goal oriented, take no prisoners, climb the hill kind of people. And that can be good in certain situations, but over the long haul, a leader must learn to be softer and gentler as they lead. Brian Dodd gives a helpful list of 17 Ways To Be A Kinder, Gentler Pastor And Leader.

As the year ends, many people will make resolutions and goals (which I love) but it is also helpful to review your year before you look forward. Here are 3 things I found helpful from Rusty George to do before the end of the year.

If you’re a leader, you know when you are hitting on all cylinders and when you aren’t. But it is easier to know what to do when things are going well. What I’ve found to be helpful is knowing indicators I’m heading for a crash (physically and emotionally) before I get there. Here are 3 helpful indicators for you.

My kids are on the verge of the teenage years (I know this because they tell me everyday) and with that is a lot of anxiety and excitement about this next stage. If that’s you, this podcast on parenting during the teen years is invaluable. I love the idea of coaching as a parent, such a helpful picture.

Many leaders will make goals for their personal lives at the end of the year, but it would also be helpful to make some goals as a church and one of those goals should be around relevance. What does that mean? Here are 5 ways to know if you’re church is becoming irrelevant.

How to Stay Passionate as a Leader

Starting something is easy. Getting married is easier than staying married. Starting a new company or church is often easier than maintaining one or turning one around.

Yes, it takes a lot of work and effort to get something off the ground, but the dreaming phase, the launching phase, is often incredibly fun and exhilarating.



Passion can take you incredibly far in life.

We don’t follow people who aren’t passionate, and often passion is what will keep you going when the road gets long and hard as a leader. Your passion to see a dream come true, a marriage survive, a child succeed. Our passion can carry us.

But no matter how passionate, energetic, or optimistic we are,

passion also drains and runs low.

There are times when we are simply showing up, going through the motions and trying to survive.

The passion that got it off the ground is hard to maintain.

Sadly, when this happens, many people quit. They give up. They throw in the towel, or they keep going through the motions, which kills them and sucks the life out of them.

Why stay?

One author said, “You will be most tempted to quit moments before the critical breakthrough.”

How do you raise your passion when it gets dry? Here are some ways:

1. Ask God. Our passion and calling come from God. He has wired us with it. When it is waning and not burning hot, ask God for the desire and original passion He gave you.

2. Go back to where you started. Place is important in our lives. For many of us, the dreams we have or the things we started began at a place. I can take you to the seat in an auditorium where God called me to plant a church when I was 21. I can take you to the banks of a lake where I knew at 18 I was supposed to be a pastor.

Many people have sat in conferences or gone on mission trips that have changed their lives and perspectives.

Go back to those places. Sometimes the return to a place ignites a passion in us.

3. Look for small wins and celebrations. Too often the reason our passion is waning is because it isn’t as big or as great as we imagined. It also goes slower than we expected. Most successful people have walked a long winding road to their success.

Look for the small ways you’ve moved ahead. Celebrate the little things that have happened.

4. Get around passionate people. You and I both know passionate, optimistic people. When your passion is waning, get around them. Ask them what they’re dreaming about. This is a great opportunity to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone.

5. Be honest. This might feel like a downer when talking about passion, but a lack of passion might be the end of your time somewhere. All things come to an end, and that is okay. The reality is that it is possible that when our passion wanes in a job, it is a sign of the end, and that is okay. God will often speak through passion or lack thereof.

This is why it is crucial to have a team or friends who can help you and talk with you about your passion level, where it went, why it is down and how to raise it back up.

If you’re a leader, this matters. Not only for your sanity but for those around you.

If you’re a pastor, your church will feed off your passion, whatever level it is.

How to Make the Most of Your Morning

If you have kids (even if you don’t), the morning can be crazy. You stayed up too late watching that last episode on Netflix or the game, you hit the snooze button too much, and now you are racing out the door. Throwing lunches together, stuffing breakfast into your mouth.

There is a lot at stake in what we do with our mornings. In fact, the most productive people maximize their mornings.

Here’s the reality, though: If you don’t make the most of your morning, you will feel behind all day.

If your day is determined by your morning, how do you make the most of it?

Here are six ideas:

1. Get up before everyone. If you want to make the most of your morning, whether you are single, married or have kids, you have to get up before everyone else. You must be up before people start sending you texts and emails.

There is something that happens in the quietness of a morning, when it is still dark out.

I know, you are exhausted and not a morning person. I get it.

When we started our church I would work late into the night because I hated the mornings, but the reality is that most people do their best work and best thinking in the morning.

There is a definite difference to my day when I am up before everyone else and when I am not.

Parents know this truth because they feel behind if they wake up when their kids do.

2. Pick a spot. Place is important to many people, but particularly when it comes to focus for your heart. Choosing a spot that you return to each morning to recharge, focus and pray is incredibly important.

This might be a porch, a spot in your room or a favorite chair.

Wherever it is, don’t simply make this haphazard. Choose a spot that will help to quiet you and focus your heart.

The consistency of a spot and place will also start to create in your mind a signal that it is time to relax, think, and connect with Jesus. This becomes a very powerful part of maximizing your time.

3. Read/Journal. Focusing for your day will often come through feeding your soul first.

For me, it is spending time reading my Bible. Being able to have space to read, process, write down what God is doing in your heart and mind is incredibly important.

What things stand out to you while reading your Bible? Write them down.

Many people find a lot of relief from getting their thoughts and feelings out of their minds and onto paper. This is often a great stress reliever but also a place to leave something behind. You can also keep track of things you are praying for and when those prayers are answered.

4. Pray/Think. In the busyness of life, especially with kids, if you want to have time to pray and think in silence, you will have to carve it out. This is why you need to get up before everyone else. If you want quiet, you have to make it happen. Quiet does not magically find you.

If you are a leader, this is very important.

Part of your job as a leader is thinking and praying through what is next for your organization, your church and your family. As a parent, you must spend time thinking and praying about what is next for your marriage and your kids.

Recently, an older leader challenged me on this and said, “Josh, if you don’t spend time thinking and praying about what is next for your church, who do you think is?”

5. Tackle your hardest task first. If you’ve noticed, you haven’t done any work yet. For many people, you might be wondering when you start being productive.

But I would say that all of the above will bring greater levels of productivity and success.

As you think through your day, do what takes the most mental energy, the hardest task, the thing that will move the ball the furthest in your life and career, first.

For me and many pastors, this is sermon prep, not a meeting or a counseling session. Tackle the tasks that are not only hard but move the ball furthest in your life or work.

6. Turn on electronics. Notice, this is last and depending on how long everything else took you, it might be until lunch time before you check email, Facebook or Instagram. That isn’t a bad thing (unless your boss would be mad at you about checking your email that late, which is a different topic). Side note, if your boss doesn’t like that, have a conversation about how you can be more productive if you don’t check your email first thing in the morning.

Why does that help?

Email has a way of hijacking your day and brain. It sidetracks you. On sermon prep mornings, I don’t check my email until I am done. It keeps my head clear.

The reality is, no one else is responsible to make you successful, effective or productive. You are. If you aren’t, as much as we don’t want to admit it, that is often on us.

Take control of what you can control.

Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture

The church that I lead is working on building a stronger leadership culture. In some parts of our church, like most, this is hitting on all cylinders. In other parts, it is lagging behind.

Recently, I read Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture by Mark Miller where he lays out a five step process for building a leadership culture in your church or organization that I thought was helpful:

1. Define it. Forge a consensus regarding your church’s working definition of leadership. How do you define leadership in your church? Many people have a definition of leadership or what makes a leader, but few teams have a consistent definition of leadership.

You’ll want to be able to answer these questions: What makes someone a leader in general? What makes someone a leader at your church? What are the attributes of a leader versus a doer or a follower?

2. Teach it. Ensure everyone knows your leadership point of view and leaders have the skills required to succeed.

There are so many ideas and resources out there to train leaders. What will you use? How will you help your volunteers and staff members grow as leaders?

Each staff member or team lead must think through how they will teach leadership to their teams on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. This doesn’t have to a big event, but it can be. Simple nuggets, simple teachings and reminders often go the furthest over time, if shared consistently.

3. Practice it. Create opportunities for leaders and emerging leaders to lead; stretch assignments prove and improve leaders.

Pastors hate giving things away. I have guesses as to why, but that’s for another post. The reality is that people become leaders by leading. By hHaving a chance to risk something, to succeed or fall flat on their faces. Young preachers need to stand in front of groups and preach (this doesn’t have to be, and probably shouldn’t be, the main worship service at the beginning).

4. Measure it. Track the progress for our leadership development efforts, adjusting strategies and tactics accordingly.

Pastors are notorious (and I do this more than I like to admit) for starting something and not creating any way to measure and track it.

How will you know if you are developing more leaders this month, this year than last? It needs to be more than, “we have more volunteers than last year.” That isn’t always a sign that you have built leaders or a leadership culture.

5. Model it. Walk the talk and lead by example – people always watch the leader.

Sadly in most churches and organizations, the higher you go up the ladder, the less likely those leaders are to create and develop leaders. For some it is an inability to do it, not being sure how to do it, but for many, it is a fear of being replaced by someone younger or better. If you don’t develop leaders though, your church stops when you do.

For me, discipleship and leadership development are two sides of the same coin. Thinking about it this way has been incredibly helpful when it comes to developing leaders. People want to follow people who are growing. If you are building spiritually mature leaders in your church, you will be helping them to grow as disciples and leaders.

7 Quotes on Change from Carey Nieuwhof

If you are leading change in your church, here are some great quotes from Carey Nieuwhof in his book Leading Change Without Losing It: Five Strategies That Can Revolutionize How You Lead Change When Facing Opposition:

The loudest people affected by a proposed change are those who are most opposed. The more opposed people are, the louder they tend to become.

When you focus on complaints, you lose sight of the plan.

Will you focus on the people you want to reach, or the people you want to keep?

There is no way I know to engineer significant change and keep everyone you’ve currently got.

Everyone in your church likes your church the way it is; otherwise, they wouldn’t be there. It’s just that the rest of your community may not. Otherwise, they might be there.

When you consider the 10 or 100 who might leave your church if you change, just pause to remember the almost 10,000 who aren’t coming because, so far, you have failed to change. Maybe as leaders we need to start fearing that.

Here are 5 questions designed to help you discern whether a person is indeed the kind of person you can build the future of the church on:
  1. Is their vision primarily based on the past or on the future?
  2. Do they have a spirit of humility? Are they open or closed to the counsel of other people?
  3. Who is following them, and is this the kind of group that you would want around your senior leadership table?
  4. Are they focused on themselves or the people you are trying to reach?
  5. Do they offer positive alternatives that will help build a better future than your current vision for change?

12 Quotes from “The Pastor: A Memoir”

Over the summer, one of the books I worked through was The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson. I’m not normally a memoir fan, but this one grabbed me and I got so much out of it. It was like sitting across from him and gleaning so many nuggets of wisdom.

Here are some things that stood out to me:

The pervasive element in our two-thousand-year pastoral tradition is not someone who “get things done” but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to “what is going on right now” between men and women, with one another and with God – this kingdom of God that is primarily local, relentlessly personal, and prayerful “without ceasing.”

Congregation is composed of people, who, upon entering a church, leave behind what people on the street name or call them. A church can never be reduced to a place where goods and services are exchanged. It must never be a place where a person is labeled. It can never be a place where gossip is perpetuated. Before anything else, it is a place where a person is named and greeted, whether implicitly or explicitly, in Jesus’ name. A place where dignity is conferred.

My “work” assignment was to pay more attention to what God does than what I do, and then to find, and guide others to find, the daily, weekly, yearly rhythms that would get this awareness into our bones.

Preaching is proclamation, God’s word revealed in Jesus, but only what it gets embedded in conversation, in a listening ear and responding tongue, does it become gospel.

We get serious about the Christian life, we eventually end up in a place and among people decidedly uncongenial to what we expected.

The Holy Spirit forms church to be a colony of heaven in the country of death.

Congregation is a company of people who are defined by their creation in the image of God, living souls, whether they know it or not. They are not problems to be fixed, but mysteries to be honored and revered.

My work is not to fix people. It is to lead people in the worship of God and to lead them in living a holy life.

The only way the Christian life is brought to maturity is through intimacy, renunciation, and personal deepening.

You are at your pastoral best when you are not noticed. To keep this vocation healthy requires constant self-negation, getting out of the way. A certain blessed anonymity is inherent in pastoral work. For pastors, being noticed easily develops into wanting to be noticed. Many years earlier a pastor friend told me that the pastoral ego ‘has the reek of disease about it, the relentless smell of the self.’

A clamoring ego needs to be purged from the pastor’s soul.

We had simplified our defining of Sabbath-keeping to three words: pray and play. On Sabbath we would do nothing that was necessary, obligatory, “useful.” We would set the day apart for the unfettered, the free, the unearned. Pray and play.

There were so many more, but you get the idea. Such a helpful book for me.

My Notes from Sam Adeyemi on “Redefining Success” @ the Leadership Summit

I’m at the leadership summit with the team from Revolution Church. This is by far the best leadership conference of the year. This is my 14th summit and every year, God stretches me and challenges me. So much wisdom and inspiration wrapped up into two days. I always blog my notes, so if you can’t attend or missed something, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some takeaways from session 6 with Sam Adeyemi:

  • You don’t attract who you want, you attract who you are.
  • There needs to be alignment between the identity of the leader and the followers.
  • We can make champions out of ordinary people.
  • The transformation that happens in people’s lives is the ability of your leadership.
  • Real and sustainable change in people’s lives begins with a change in their sense of identity.
  • We must help people see a new identity.
  • What we believe is what we become.
  • Changing how people see themselves is the hard work of leadership.

4 steps to change what people see and hear:

  • Describe your vision over and over. 
  • There is power in vision.
  • The people you lead should be able to see themselves in your vision.
  • A vision is not just a present self, but a future self.
  • People don’t follow you because you are special, you lead because they are special.
  • Great leaders change what people think about themselves.
  • Set up a structured training system. 
  • Is your training capable of producing the ideal staff and members of your vision?
  • You must model the transformation you are talking about. 
  • Those you lead need to see you transformed.
  • Reinvent yourself over and over. 
  • Constantly ask what the next level of success looks like.
  • To grow, you must let go of who you have been.
  • Many leaders are stuck because they no longer take risks because of fear of losing their success.

My Notes from Marcus Buckingham on “Building Great Teams” @ the Leadership Summit

I’m at the leadership summit with the team from Revolution Church. This is by far the best leadership conference of the year. This is my 14th summit and every year, God stretches me and challenges me. So much wisdom and inspiration wrapped up into two days. I always blog my notes, so if you can’t attend or missed something, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some takeaways from session 5 with Marcus Buckingham:

  • You have to study excellence to learn excellence.
  • Most work happens in informal team.
  • The job of a leader is to build great teams.
  • You can’t learn how to build a great team by looking at dysfunctional teams.

8 conditions of high performing teams:

  • I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  • At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
  • I have a chance to use my strengths everyday at work.
  • In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
  • I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
  • My teammates have my back.
  • In my work, I am always challenged to grow.
  • I have great confidence in my company’s future.
  • Great teams have a purpose, pursue excellence, support each other and have a clear picture of the future.
  • People want to feel part of something bigger than them and make them feel special.
  • The way we rate people reflects us, not the people we rate.
  • 61-62% of how we rate people is a reflection of ourselves.
  • We do not rate other people very well.
  • Ask yourself these questions about each team member: Do I turn to my team when I want extraordinary results? Do I choose to work with you as much as I can?
  • The most important way to get great work is to make sure people know what is expected of them and if they use their strengths.
  • Check in frequently about strength-based about near-term future work.
  • Ask: What are your priorities this week? Next week? How can I help?
  • We don’t want feedback, we want attention.