Gospel For Enneagram

FIRST BOOK IN ENNEAGRAM SERIES

The Gospel For Achievers

A 40-Day Devotional for Driven, Successful Go-Getters (Enneagram Type 3)

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We’re excited to get a devotional into your hands soon! Subscribe to get updates before everyone else. We’re publishing a devotional for all 9 Enneagram types starting with the Achiever (Type 3) this August 2020 followed by the Peacemaker (Type 9) later this year.

Sample Devotions
from the Gospel For Achievers

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” – Genesis 1:3

“The only way to be productive is to realize that you don’t have to be productive.” – Matthew Perman

In Nine Lenses on the World: The Enneagram Perspective, Jerome Wagner humorously says that every Achiever secretly wants the following epitaph written on their tombstone: “She accomplished much in a short amount of time.” Achievers make it look easy, possessing an effortless hustle, a “power to produce,” that can amaze their friends, family, and co-workers. This God-given attribute is a reflection of the Divine’s own efficaciousness, the innate ability for God’s power to bring to pass whatever he desires.

This efficaciousness was on full display in the act of creation. With merely a word, light was spoken into existence, followed by the rest of creation—including human beings. The power of God’s word is a recurring theme in Scripture, such as when God told the prophet Isaiah: “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Achievers imitate God’s effectiveness in this way, often bringing about impressive results with seemingly very little effort. But this “power to produce” can easily turn self-centered. Like Adam and Eve, who took the fruit—hoping to achieve by their own effort what God was trying to offer freely—Achievers can use their gifts in order to draw attention to themselves: taking for themselves what has already been offered for the life of the world. The result is always disastrous.

When you buy into the Enemy’s lie that deferring to God will somehow rob you of the acceptance you seekthe boundaries of what is humanly possible get stretched and as a result you find yourself burnt out, lonely and eventually full of despair. Production for its own sake (or for your own sake) comes at a cost, one felt most keenly by those we love.

The Good News for Achievers is that God is not asking you to be like Him in this way. He’s not asking you to do everything, but to be a certain person in everything you do. He asks you to rest from labor—just as He did—and recognize that slow-burning values like honesty, commitment, and relationships are infinitely more important than anything that could be accomplished alone. The path of growth begins with admitting the difficult truth that you are neither indispensable nor untiring.

So carry on “getting stuff done” (and look good while doing it!), but refuse to listen to that inner voice pushing you to do more for acceptance. You are loved for who you are in Christ, not for what you do. Accept the gift of acceptance and use your gifts to produce—and then rest in the knowledge that God is still on the throne.

Pray: Father, forgive me for having an inflated view of myself. I erroneously believe that everything will fall apart if I stop moving, but You hold the world in the palm of your hand and only by your Holy Spirit are individual hearts and minds transformed. You can change the world without me but you’ve chosen to use me still. Enable me to restfully work today as I remember that my worth is found in Christ alone, not in what I produce.

Reflect:

  • What is fueling your desire to accomplish all that you want to get done today?
  • How does it feel to know that God won’t love you any more or less in regards to how much you accomplish today?
  • What do you want to be said about you on your tombstone?

Act: Write down a few personal goals that stretch beyond work.

“For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.” – Proverbs 24:16

“If the foundation is right, you can always rebuild.” – Myron Pierce

There is a word many Achievers have struck from their vocabularies: failure. As Beatrice Chestnut explains,

[Achievers] like to move fast, and can get bored or impatient if they can’t move on to the next thing. They avoid failure, can smell it a mile away and will change course if necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Yet failure does not have to be fatal—it can become a formative force in life. It doesn’t have to be the “end of you,” but the means to a better end. Rather than a detour, it is the very path to success, revealing the house of straw we might have built with untested, faulty beliefs and practices that won’t offer protection in difficult seasons. Failure can be a gift, showing us the mistakes and traps keeping us from moving forward.

Aside from recognizing it as a useful teacher, we must accept failure because it is inevitable. Almost every hero in Scripture failed miserably and often. Look no further than Moses—the Great Prophet and Bringer of the Law—who, in a fit of pique struck the rock, publicly dishonoring the command of God. Look to Peter—the Rock—who, when the chips were down denied even knowing Jesus. Look to the Apostle Paul who spent his early years zealously killing Christians. Look to David—the “man after God’s own heart”—who committed adultery, deception, and murder.

But none of these failures, abysmal as they were, ended up being the end of these people’s stories. All include opportunities for recognizing mistakes, seeking forgiveness, and moving forward as wiser people. Moses learns compassion for his people, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan and pours out his soul in Psalm 51, asking for a clean heart—giving generations of God-followers words of contrition and forgiveness. Peter and Paul both move forward as humbler and wiser servants, able to offer grace and forgiveness to others after having received it themselves. Importantly, these fresh starts don’t negate the consequences of their actions, but each “hero” is still able to change and continue following their paths of service for God.

Failure will feel like a fatal blow when our identity is wrapped up in performance. Our work and achievements are like limbs—they become part of us and we feel attacked when our beloved projects are critiqued and questioned, or simply don’t pan out. But when we find our identity in Christ, we can humbly allow his success to cover our faults and failures and be reminded that nothing has or could separate us from the loving acceptance of God.

The Good News for Achievers is that failure can become something different, changing from an attack on our identity into part of the process of sanctification. Rather than reframing failure to save face, we can add the word into our vocabulary, making us into more honest and transparent people. Richard Rohr insightfully points out that the Cross will always be a “symbol of failure” to the world: whereas our culture avoids failure at all costs, we have been called to take up our cross remembering that our greatest success came through one man’s apparent failure.

Pray: Father, I am more flawed than I ever imagined, but you are more loving than I ever dared hope. Accept me into your loving arms just as the father did with his prodigal son. Graciously remind me that there is no failure that is too big for the cross. Help me be honest about my shortcomings and help me to extend to others the same mercy you’ve give to me when they fail.

Reflect:

  • How have you reframed past failures as partial successes?
  • How does the gospel free you to be a less defensive person?
  • How might accepting your failure help in accepting others?

Act: Be bold enough to share one of your past failures with someone today.

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’”  Luke 10:40

“Loving people the way Jesus did is great theology.” – Bob Goff

Make no mistake: the world needs “taskers.” Families, companies, and churches need women and men who have checklists, plans, goals, and solutions; people who can stay focused and get things done quickly and with quality.

However, a problem arises when tasks are prioritized over people. Ian Cron points out that Achievers are often addicted to viewing life as a series of tasks to be completed, an approach that can then be turned onto those they love:

[Threes] can unconsciously view their partner or their relationship with them like an action item on their task-management list. Those people can become one of the many projects they’re working on at any given time. For instance, you might hear Threes talk about how they and their partner sit down once a year to set spiritual, financial, physical or social goals for their marriage or relationship or to discuss ways in which they can make the day-to-day management of the family more efficient or productive. Clearly being intentional about relationships is admirable, so long as they remain spiritual unions we cultivate, not business partnerships we manage.

How do you view or treat people when your Type-A, Tasker Beast Mode kicks into full gear? Do you really listen and receive input from others along the way towards a goal? Or do you even stay away from high maintenance people intentionally, avoid those who aren’t easily cowed by your management, or whose gifts and opinions you don’t esteem as highly? Marilyn Vancil insightfully adds that, while Achievers, “Genuinely care about people and enjoy many relationships but don’t often set aside time or energy to invest in those who aren’t in their immediate scope of action.”

Do you get so focused on your tasks that you forget people are the point? That the tasks we create are there to help us create meaningful “spiritual unions” rather than business partnerships? Too often, Achievers can use people to accomplish their lofty goals, leaving hurt and ignored people in their wake—people who feel that they themselves were merely a box for the Achiever to check. But a clean house, a new business venture, a successful book or brand, or killer event are impressive and can do good in the world, but they are’t the point: relationships are.

Martha, distracted with her tasks, is more concerned about impressing Jesus than being with him. But Jesus looked at her soul and saw someone “anxious” about her to-do list: someone who thought the way to the Divine heart was to impress Him with her titanic accomplishments in the face of adversity. So he interjects to say that her sister, Mary, has accomplished the most important task of the day—sitting at his feet. Did Martha ever get it? Was she able to move beyond her hurt feelings (or the shame of being called out) and learn to move slowly through a crowd, as her Lord did? Did she ever learn to choose what was truly necessary?

The Good News for Achievers is that Jesus never graded his followers on their accomplishments but on the way they pursued them. We can drop the striving and learn to stop and sit at our Maker’s feet. We don’t have to figure this out on our own: over and over again, Jesus focused on the how rather than the what, giving us a perfect example for how we ourselves can learn to lead. All we have to do is stop and listen long enough to hear our Lord’s voice in those we have the opportunity to work with.

Pray: Father, thank you for being a relational God who pursues me every day. I was created to know you deeply but I am distracted by many things. Help me to sit at the feet of Jesus today and enjoy your transforming presence. Holy Spirit, loosen my grip on my tasks and give me a greater love especially for those the world misses because Jesus, the truest success, was a man despised and rejected by the world. Help me to see and hear him in the meek and lowly. Amen.

Reflect:

  • Who or what is getting sacrificed right now for your tasks? (Jesus, marriage, kids, staff team, health, etc.)?
  • Why is it so hard to want to be around people who are poor, struggling, or on the bottom of the totem pole? Why did Jesus not find it hard to prioritize them?
  • How can I make more room for casual conversation during the day that does’t revolve around work but strengthens relationships?

Act: Plan 25% less work this week than you normally do to allow for more relational time as well as asking others how you can serve or support their work.

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Should Christians Use The Enneagram?

1) Does the Enneagram put too much focus on self?
2) Is the Enneagram a Christian-based tool?
3) Is the Enneagram dangerous as a spiritual tool?
4) Is the Enneagram redeemable? (if it has mixed sources?)
5) Does using personality categories do more harm than good?
6) Does the Enneagram help or hinder our evangelism?
7) Can the Enneagram itself save us?

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