The Enneagram is the most liberating tool I’ve ever encountered. It’s also the most painful. A double-edged sword, for sure. The Enneagram has a subtle way of by-passing the pleasantries and ego-stroking and telling you exactly why you suck.
I’ve returned to this powerful tool time and again over the past few years. When I feel stuck in my relationship with God, reach an impasse with my wife, Tiffani, or make a poor choice and want to learn from it, I go back to the Enneagram.
It’s not gospel, and it doesn’t replace Jesus. Don’t hear me say that. When the sun sets, the Enneagram is just a tool.
But, if you allow, this tool can reveal your blind spots and forge a path to transformation and healing.
I’ve written about the Enneagram types and wings and other such stuff in detail here and here. Oh, yeah, almost forgot…and here. If all this is brand new to you, maybe you should take a deep breath, then take another, then click the links above.
For a long while, I wasn’t sure of my number. I waffled between several. Depending on the day’s mood, I might think myself a Nine (Peacemaker), a Three (Achiever), a One (Reformer) or even a Six (Loyalist) or a Seven (Enthusiast). This uncertainty I hated.
I kept reading. Finally, I stumbled across The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. In addition to describing the nine types, includes a biblical character. Game changer. I stumbled across ol’ Jonah, an Enneagram Nine (Peacemaker). Reading his story sealed it. I was a Nine.
Whether you’re on the fence about the Enneagram in general or your type in particular, it helps to see ourselves in others’ stories. Fortunately, the Bible gives us characters of all shapes and sizes and Enneagram numbers.
I’m going to give you the Bible character who most closely embodies every number. As an added bonus, I’m throwing in a few famous people for each type (four actually: two real live people, two fictional characters).
Type One: Reformer or Idealist
Biblical figure: PAUL
Ones need everyone and everything “buttoned up.” They do things the right way. Because no one meets their astronomically high standards, Ones often fill up with anger that boils over in the form of resentment.
The Biblical character most associated with this type? Hello? Could this be any more obvious? The apostle Paul. A self-proclaimed lover of the Law and a Pharisee, enforcer of the “right way,” even to the point of murder. This, of course, describes Paul before the Damascus Road experience.
Once he started following Jesus, he gave up his murderous ways. He did not, however, abandon his passion for a just world. Paul is an excellent character study for Ones. You see clearly his dark, unhealthy side. You also see clearly how God redeems Paul’s core passion (justice, in particular) for his glory.
Other famous Eights: Jerry Seinfeld, Nelson Mandela, Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Batman
Type Two: Helper
Biblical figure: JOHN (the beloved disciple)
Twos are keenly aware of everyone’s needs, which is noble, except in doing so Twos ignore their own needs. Twos are natural givers, but they struggle to receive, either from a neighbor or from God.
The apostle John is a great example of a Two. John is the only apostle who remains with Jesus at the cross. John’s gospel (as well as his letters) focus on love. Richard Rohr points out that, although John emphasizes love, his love is exclusive, focusing on the “brothers.” John does not talk about loving enemies in any of his writings. So, you see the good and bad with a Two. They can give selflessly. But they can also be possessive and exclusive.
Other famous Twos: Princess Diana, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hagrid (Harry Potter), Princess Leia (Star Wars)
Type Three: Achiever
Biblical figure: JACOB
Threes are image conscious. They have an uncanny ability to appear successful and important, regardless of the crowd. They tend to forget their identity around their successes.
Richard Rohr says no character in the Bible embodies any Enneagram number more completely than Jacob embodies a Three. You remember his story, right? He fights with his brother, Esau, in the womb. He devises a plan with his mom Rebekah to steal the birthright (It belongs to his older brother Esau). As his father lays on death’s door, Jacob pretends to be Esau, receives his father’s blessing. After hearing this, Esau is furious, which forces Jacob to flee. On the journey, he has a dream that includes (wait for it) a ladder. Ascent and descent, climbing up and down ladders. Threes relate to these ideas well.
Other famous Threes: Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Scarlett O’Hara (Gone With the Wind), Ron Weasley (Harry Potter)
Type Four: Individualist
Biblical figure: JOSEPH
Fours are creative and sensitive types. They always feel like they’re missing something. Fours are fixated on being special, different, and authentic.
Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son, is a Four. Following the Four’s desire to be special and distinct, Joseph dreams on two separate occasions that his brothers will bow down to him. I don’t doubt the validity of Joseph’s dreams. But it takes a special kind of stupid to go off and explain such dreams to your older brothers. I’d probably have thrown Joseph in a pit too. After rising to second in command in Egypt, his brothers trek there hoping to find food. Joseph, rather than simply revealing his identity to his brothers, he instead tests them. After a lot of drama, he finally reveals himself. Why not just tell them who you from the get-go, Joseph? As a Nine, his whole “test” makes no sense. But this what you get from Fours, sensitivity and drama.
Other famous Fours: Thomas Merton, Edgar Allan Poe, Rey (Star Wars), Loki (Thor)
Type Five: Investigator
Biblical figure: THOMAS (the apostle, the doubter)
Fives are independent. They tend to observe the world rather than engage it, and they mostly observe a world of lack. This leads Fives to withhold love and affection, especially from those closest to them.
If you identify with Thomas the apostle, who refuses to believe in a risen Jesus unless he touches the nail-scarred hands, you might be a Five. Seeing is believing for Thomas.
Other famous Fives: Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter series), Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes)
Type Six: Loyalist
Biblical figure: PETER
Sixes are loyal, practical and witty. Sixes are worst-case scenario specialist. They’re always looking for some authority or leader to make them feel secure.
Peter, a fascinating character study, is a Six. Fiercely loyal to his master, Jesus, Peter was prepared to die with him. When the mob comes to arrest Jesus, Peter slices off a dude’s ear. But, in typical Six fashion, Peter also flees when things get tough. He famously denies association with Jesus, three times over. In the end, though, his loyalty to Jesus brings him back to the fold. The rest is…well, you know.
Other famous Sixes: Ellen DeGeneres, J. R. R. Tolkien, Frodo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings), Finn (Star Wars)
Type Seven: Enthusiast
Biblical figure: KING SOLOMON
Sevens are fun, spontaneous and adventurous. They tend to do everything “too much” in an attempt to avoid anything hard or painful. Sevens are fixated on immediate gratification, making them especially vulnerable to addiction.
Solomon became one of the wealthiest and most powerful kings in the history of Israel. He was also wise. But his undoing was his love for women. He slept with more than a few. Some of them were not Israelites, and they convinced Solomon to build a temple to their gods. He did. And at some point, he turned away from God to worship others those gods.
Other famous Sevens: Robin Williams, Benjamin Franklin, Peter Pan (Peter Pan), Poe Dameron (Star Wars)
Type Eight: Challenger
Biblical figure: SAMSON
Eights are commanding, intense and confrontational. Act now, apologize later is an Eight’s motto. They fight for justice and advocate for the powerless. But they also struggle to admit weakness. They can domineer over people. Their greatest fear is vulnerability.
Samson embodies the strong, commanding energy of an Eight, the idyllic image of a strong hero. Samson kills a lion…with his bare hands. He destroys a thousand Philistines…with the jaw bone of a jackass. Samson falls in love with Delilah and tells her the source of his strength, his flowing locks. The Philistines capture him and gouge his eyes out. Standing among thousands of Philistines, Samson asks God for strength one more time. He collapses the supporting pillars, killing everyone, including himself.
Other famous Eights: Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammed Ali, Darth Vader (Star Wars), Hans Solo (Star Wars)
Type Nine: Peacemaker
Biblical figure: JONAH
Nines are laid back and accommodating. “Meh” is a great motto for Nines, especially on the unhealthy side. They avoid conflict at all cost. Lacking focus and drive, Nines can go the entirety of their lives without a true identity or purpose.
Jonah, the reluctant prophet, is a Nine. Tasked by God to preach in Nineveh, Jonah runs the opposite way. He hops a ship, hoping to avoid the godless Ninevites. You can’t outrun God, though. After being thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish, Jonah begrudgingly agrees to preach to the Ninevites. Surprisingly, they listen and repent. This upsets Jonah. Not long after, he wants to kill himself (a recurring theme in this story). In Jonah’s story, you see the spiritual slothfulness that often defines a Nine. He’s unconcerned with the salvation of the Ninevites and unconcerned with his own life. Acedia on full display.
Other famous Nines: Abraham Lincoln, Dalai Lama, Harry Potter (Harry Potter), Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz)
Well, there you go. A Bible character for every Enneagram number. Which one of these characters resonated most with you? Leave a comment below and explain why.
Grace and peace, friends.