The Helpful Enneagram

A Tool for Personal, Family, Spiritual, and Leadership Development

I’m always looking for ways to understand why and how I think, feel, and behave as I do throughout life, in all areas. Typically, it’s because I’m trying to understand how I can think more clearly, feel more clearly and fully, and behave more consistently and productively. I also seek knowing how to have fuller and more loving and/or productive relationships, depending on whether we’re talking about the context of work, family, God, or friends. I read and pray over the words and stories in the Bible daily (my ideal), or at least regularly, for these reasons and I’ve also used several kinds of personality tests/indicators with these ends in mind. I’ve taken the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, as well as others, several times over the decades. They’re all useful for what they are. They all have their limitations and their helpfulness.

Because I’m a member of the Redbud Writers Guild (power on, sistas), I’m on InterVarsity Press’s “advanced copy” list for several genres of books, all nonfiction and mainly biblically- and theologically- oriented (as opposed to, for example, philosophy, poetry, Bible study (per se), inspirational, spiritual formation, etc.). But recently, I was surprised to receive a Christian self-help book (i.e. spiritual formation) called The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile.

I recall some twenty years ago picking up a book on the enneagram and wondering, simultaneously, “What in the world? Where has this been all my life? This [one of the numbers/categories] describes me to a ‘t’!” and “Is this satanic and/or new age?” At the time, I can’t say I was an extraordinarily discerning or critically-thinking reader. I stayed within what I thought/perceived was an acceptable safety zone of reading for Christians. After reading significant portions of the book and even after being bowled over by the depth and accuracy of the various personality descriptions and how they interact with self, life, others, and God, I felt ambiguous about the content. Partly out of ingnorance-based fearfulness and partly out of simple ministry-activity overwhelm during that period of my life, I lost track of the book and its content. But I never forgot about it.

Fast forward twenty years, an advance reader copy of Cron and Stabile’s book appears in my mailbox during a time of deep discernment in my life and that of my life in partnership with my husband, David. This summer, we celebrated fourteen years of marriage. I think he’d agree with me if I said the first ten were the most difficult, compared to the last four.

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Going with the Flow, Part 1: Sentence Flow Diagramming

Assuming you’ve done your work with the <<preliminaries>>, here’s the next step to putting your Bible study on steroids: doing a sentence flow diagram. I know, I know: totally unsexy. But, seriously, this is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE tool for studying the Bible(lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!) because everyone who has a basic knowledge of English grammar truly can get a much clearer picture of a scripture passage with some very simple diagramming.

Most translations are written, intentionally, in paragraph and verse form. By diagramming sentences according to grammar rules, you get to see how words, phrases, sentences, and even whole sections relate to each other. You see comparisons and contrasts at a glance. You see cause and effect in a second.


This post is part of the following (still-being-written) series:

Supercharge Your Bible Study Series: Simple (But F’Real, Bona Fide) Bible Interpretation for Newbies

Interpretation Preliminaries:

  1. Reading the Passage (in one sitting)

Going with the Flow, Part 2 – Putting the Horse in front of the Cart: Basic Grammar Rules (or, “Ninth Grade English, Revisited”)

Going with the Flow, Part 3 – A New Artistry: Sketching a Sentence Flow