Young Life Leaders and the Enneagram

Colin Roth November 6, 2019

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This semester on
Tuesdays we’ve been taking a deep dive into Young Life team dynamicsIf
you missed the past posts, check them out here:

Intro To Team Dynamics

How To Handle Team Conflict

More Than Ministry Partners

Setting Clear Expectations 

Dating Among Teammates


Healthy Team Cultural Intelligence

Beyond the College Days

How to
Onboard New Teammates

This final post in the
series was written by Colin Roth.

For the past year, one
of the hot topics of conversation in the Western Christian church has been the

As Ian Morgan Cron
says,“The Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box, so much as it tells you about the
box you’re already in…and how to get out.” 

I was first introduced
to the Enneagram a little over a year ago through a podcast by The
. At first, I wasn’t impressed, but then I started learning more
and found it to be an incredibly life-transforming tool.

If you’re unfamiliar
with the Enneagram, it’s an ancient personality test divided into nine types.
Unlike other personality identification systems, the Enneagram is not so much
interested in telling you what you are as it is in telling you why you do the things
you do. 

Here are the nine

1 – The Perfectionist

2 – The Helper

3 – The Achiever

4 – The Individualist

5 – The Observer

6 – The Loyalist 

7 – The Enthusiast

8 – The Challenger

9 – The Peacemaker

The Enneagram is much
more complex than the nine types. If you start learning about it you’ll hear
words like “wings, subtypes, triads, and where you go in health and stress.”
It’s much deeper than just telling you what your type is and then moving on. And
while I would love to talk about the Enneagram exhaustively, that’s not what
this post is for. Yes, the Enneagram is an interesting conversation to have and
it can be really fun to find out what types your friends are, but the Enneagram
is meant to be a tool to help you discover why you do the things you do and why
others do the things that they do.

If you’re a Young Life
leader, you’re likely on a team with people with different personalities,
different Enneagram numbers, different interests, different triggers to make
them happy or upset, different ideas, different motivations, and different

Cron explains that the
Enneagram is a “low-resolution” picture of people. If you’re a Type 1, The
Perfectionist, that does not mean that every single thing about the “1” is
going to be true of who you are, but, understanding the Enneagram and
discovering why you do what you do and why your co-leaders do what they do can
be an incredibly helpful tool for leading together.

I type as a 5,
“The Observer,” and I am on a team with a 2, 6, and 9. I love
studying and learning. This is what makes 5’s tick. I know my team pretty well,
but I’ve learned a lot about my team by studying their types and trying to
better understand why they do what they do. Again, these numbers aren’t
picture-perfect representations of the people on my team, but I want to know
the people on my team better- and as a result, love them better.

When I know that my
friend and teammate, Clay, identifies as a type 2, it helps me better
understand how to love and encourage him. It also helps me extend grace when I
understand his weaknesses, just as I long for him to show me that same patience
when he understands my sin patterns.

My encouragement is
this- use the Enneagram as a tool to better understand your teammates. In
addition to being a lot of fun, it might just help you all work better together
and model for the kids a picture of the family of God.

Helpful resources

Written by Colin Roth. 

Colin is a Young Life Leader in Northern Kentucky. He has been
leading Young Life at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky for more
than 4 years. 

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