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Enneagram opens spiritual doors

Man walks toward doors

Assessment tools like Myers-Briggs and DiSC help people grow in self-understanding. Enneagram is an ancient process that opens spiritual doors and deepens faith.

Senior Content Editor, Michigan Conference

The Vision Statement of The Michigan Conference speaks to the need for “bold and effective leaders.” And there are two persons on the Conference staff whose role it is to nurture boldness and effectiveness among God’s people in the state.

The Rev. Jennie Browne serves as the Director of Clergy Excellence. Laura Witkowski works from the Office of Congregational Vibrancy as the Associate Director for Lay Leadership Development. Both are interested in helping clergy and laity claim and live out of the spiritual gifts God has given them.

That’s why this dynamic duo is partnering to offer The Enneagram Journey Class. This 12-session course is “designed to help church leaders, lay and clergy, grow in self-awareness, strengthen their gifts, and lead others with wisdom, patience, and tolerance.”

The Enneagram is described like this by the proponent and master Suzanne Stabile: “The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system that identifies Nine Personality Types that are expressed individually and in relationship to others. Unlike DiSC Assessment or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Enneagram acts as a unique tool for understanding and explaining human behavior, and the underlying motivations that drive behavior and the gifts we all have for the transformation of non-productive encounters with others.”

Laura first became acquainted with Enneagram through podcasts. “I heard Suzanne Stabile speaking on a podcast with a United Methodist pastor in California, who was on a journey of self-discovery,” Laura recalls. “Then I forgot about it, but Enneagram kept coming up. I thought, ‘This is what I need to be doing.’” Laura explored Enneagram in a workshop with other field staff and experienced an all-day encounter with Suzanne Stabile. Stabile is a United Methodists and her husband is a United Methodist pastor. “Her context is our context,” Laura notes.

Jennie, who until recently was in office space next to Laura, says, “I stood in Laura’s door and had her talk to me about Enneagram. I saw the book on her shelf, The Road Back to You, and asked her for podcast recommendations.” That set Jennie on the journey, but a personal experience showed her the value of Enneagram. Recently a family member asked, “I’m a 6, do you know what that means?” Jennie says, “That conversation that we then had was fantastic! We connected over Enneagram and shared about who we really are.”

To those who believe Enneagram is the latest new-age fad with no Christian roots, Laura remarks, “It is so ancient, they don’t really know where it came from.” She adds, “Just like other personality and strength finders, it is a tool that can be used in a Christian way.”

Jennie explains, “My whole life has been spent with Myers-Briggs and DiSC assessment. Those are very useful. But Enneagram hits a deeper place in my own soul, because its theory is that you use your personality to protect your soul.” She finds Enneagram to be helpful because “you can shed some of yourself in a healthy way in order to live out of your essence instead of your personality. That’s what makes it so spiritually relevant.” Both Jennie and Laura agree that Enneagram compared to other tools, “feels more elemental.”

Laura describes Myers-Briggs and DiSC as “more business-focused and aggressive.” While “they fit me to an extent, parts of them don’t apply to me at all. They just brought me to a certain point and left me there.” She calls Enneagram “more grounded and spiritual in a way that allows me to go deeper into who I am as a person of faith.”

The team of Witkowski and Browne cite two reasons they are working together on this invitation to the Enneagram Journey. First, Jennie says, “The two of us are both in charge of leadership development for The Michigan Conference.” Laura continues, “So we want to model a clergy-laity partnership by doing this as a team. That is important to both of us.” She observes, “Currently, people tend to think clergy should do it all. This experience shows we are all in this together.”

Next, recalling the 2019 Michigan Annual Conference, Jennie notes, “What came out of both of our sermons is that we believe that to know yourself is the first step to being a leader.” Enneagram helps with that. Laura concurs. “Enneagram takes you to that next step that you need in leadership. We hope to help more people in the conference become better leaders.” Laura continues, “So much of the leadership training I attend aims at teaching leadership skills to others. Enneagram starts with  the personal work that is so important to do.”

Jennie observes, “Many assume leaders all do it the same way. I like Enneagram because it says you can be a leader in a whole lot of different ways and all are valid.”

Jennie and Laura both believe the Enneagram journey is better done in a group setting. “There is a benefit in doing this in community,” Laura explains. “You can read it on your own, but I have found that I discover more when I am talking with others.” They share that it will not be until the third of the twelve sessions that persons “learn their number.” Community building and background information will nurture the group in the initial sessions. This relational, small group approach is why the class is being offered in-person rather than online.

Why sign on to the Enneagram Journey Class? Jennie Browne summarizes. “Myers-Briggs showed me that I prefer a plan and a list that I can check things off. But that doesn’t help me know when using a list is not helpful.” She learned from Enneagram, “When I need to challenge myself not to make a list.” She recommends the Enneagram experience as a way “to observe yourself and make things better for you and everybody else.” Perhaps most importantly, Jennie concludes, “I now can more clearly hear God say, ‘I love you, even when you are not being helpful.’”

Registration deadline extended until class is full.  There are still several “free” registrations available. The maximum size of the class is 20 participants.

Last Updated on November 1, 2023

The Michigan Conference