Patrick Miller 01:01
Last spring, we had Jackie Hill Perry on the podcast to talk about a number of subjects. But Keith asked her about her views on the Enneagram. If you don't know Jackie Hill, Perry has some strong feelings about the Enneagram being demonic and keep wanting to hear more about that. Now, I don't know if he's a big fan of the Enneagram because I don't think he pushed back quite hard enough. And so I wanted to have a chance to discuss the Enneagram with my friend Jesse Eubanks, he wrote a fantastic book called How we relate and of course it is about the Enneagram. Speaking personally, I found the Enneagram to be a very helpful tool in my life. So I would call myself a fan even if I'm not the biggest evangelist out there. But rather than just talking through all the different Enneagram types and trying to explain what it is I wanted to take a different tack on this episode. Instead, I wanted to ask Jesse the questions that skeptics are asking about the Enneagram from Jackie Hill Perry's accusation that it's demonic all the way to accusations that it's unscientific, or that it's just part and parcel of our self expressive moment, it's no surprise that Jessie had some great responses. He's been a lifelong leader founding Love thy neighborhood, a fantastic organization that brings together young people to work and serve for the common good. It's kind of a crazy thing. I mean, they take vows of poverty, and they commit to living life together. And by crazy, I mean really beautiful. And so I respect Jesse a lot, and I'm excited for you to hear more from him. Jesse Eubanks, thanks so much for being on the show with us today.
Jesse Eubanks 02:32
Yeah. Hey, Patrick. It's good to be with you guys.
Patrick Miller 02:34
Yeah, I'm excited. Before we recorded this, I was telling Jesse he was gracious enough to spend some time with me to help me work on a new book. And the entire time I had COVID brain but didn't realize it. And so I took notes during that meeting. And I don't think my notes accurately represented what you wrote because it looked like the scribblings of a madman. So hopefully we can get there this time. It's
Jesse Eubanks 02:54
also very possible that I actually said a bunch of insane things, and that you wrote down everything with accuracy.
Patrick Miller 03:01
We'll find out today because I'm going to ask some of the same question. Compare notes, we'll find out are you as crazy as me believed? Possible? Today, we're going to be talking a lot about the Enneagram, you've written a fantastic book on the Enneagram, how we relate, which I would encourage anybody to pick up I've actually read through it several times. And I found it personally helpful. But today, I want to do something a little different. I want this to be a skeptics guide to the Enneagram. Because there are plenty of people who are not familiar with the Enneagram, and maybe aren't interested because there's a lot of critiques about the Enneagram out there. And rather than hopping straight into those critiques, I would love to start with just you and your personal story. How did you first become interested in the Enneagram
Jesse Eubanks 03:45
I was on staff at a homeless shelter. And we were a Christian ministry, we would spend all day long taking care of our city's most vulnerable citizens folks that were living really traumatic hard lives, and looking for all the ways we can to love these folks in word and deed. And as part of that, you know, of course, like we are verbally sharing the gospel with people that come through our doors, doing Bible studies, you know, we're doing these gospel messages. And we're telling people over and again, like, come be a part of God's loving family. All the while behind the scenes, we as a staff were super dysfunctional, and actually did not know how to get along very well. So there was a sense, like, I felt like we were airplane salesmen that were hoping you didn't ask us if we actually knew how to fly. Oh, yeah. And so we're fighting all the time. And we don't actually know how to do relational intimacy with each other. So it was around that time that some guys were brought in, who are two retired pastors, and they started doing some work with us. And as part of that work, they did this thing called the Enneagram, which looks like the pentagram looks really weird. Yes. And when I got my results, and then I began to also hear about my co workers. I mean, it was so profound, the level of accuracy And it gave language to why we were having such conflict. We literally moved in this world in such different ways we saw differently. We were motivated by different things. We had different core drives as people. And so yes, it came in during a season where it was direly needed. And so that was my first introduction.
Patrick Miller 05:21
And in your book, you talk about how it also had a pretty big impact on your marriage. Would you share a bit more about that? Yeah,
Jesse Eubanks 05:27
yeah. You know, other people have marriage problems, I'd never have a marital struggles. But once upon a time I did. And so yeah, you know, there was a season my wife and I were kind of in that eight, nine year mark of marriage where, I don't know, man, we were just struggling, we were talking past each other. And, you know, my wife had a lot of anxiety, I was working too much, I was kind of always tinkering with too many things. I was kind of lost in dreams, you know, and not grounded in a way that she needed me to be. She so we started going to counseling, and the guy that wanted to go see him was one of the guys that had introduced this Enneagram thing to me. And he sat down with us and said, Okay, here's the differences in euros types. And it was really incredible, because I moved from a posture of feeling like, oh, my gosh, my wife's doing these things just to drive me nuts. And my wife says all the time, she took everything I did is personal. He's not thinking about this, because XYZ, he doesn't care about me, because XYZ, it allowed us suddenly to realize there's so much more going on under the surface. And so it gives us a lot of compassion for each other.
Patrick Miller 06:34
I think that's one of the most interesting uses of the Enneagram. It's easy to become fixated on your own personality typing. And so I'm just studying my particular number on the Enneagram and learning everything I can about myself. But personally, I found it far more useful in my understanding of other people, like you just said, I might be in conflict with someone and I'm making a lot of assumptions about what's motivating them about what they're seeing, not seeing doing not doing. And the reality is if I understood their personality, I would come to realize that no, at what I've actually done is I've assumed they're just like me, and if I was doing the things that they were doing, this is why I would be doing those things. But they're not just like me, and they're doing those things for very different reasons, which, like you said, produces a lot of compassion and empathy. And it's one of the reasons why I am personally a fan of the Enneagram.
Jesse Eubanks 07:19
Yeah, it allows us to become curious about people instead of just prescribing their motives to them and saying, Well, this is why you're doing this. And that's especially easy for us to do as Christians, right? Because we do have a sense of calling to evaluate people's behavior and evaluate what's going on in our hearts. But we as Christians can take that way too far. And make all these assumptions like Jesus had this incredible gift of like, people come to him and counter him. And he could see into the hearts of people. We as Christians often think we have that same gift. And the truth is we do not. And so there's just a lot of times, we need to slow our roll. And the Enneagram just helps us to kind of pull back and be curious. First,
Patrick Miller 08:00
I do you think evangelicalism in general has a curiosity problem, we tend to come at things as though every issue is black and white, there aren't Shades of Grey. And we're not curious about the other. Why do you do what you do and think what you think it's one thing I appreciate about your podcast so much is that you do a fantastic job of just being a curious Christian asking questions before you draw conclusions. And I liked that idea of the anagram, saying, hey, this helps us become more curious in lieu of the fact that we can't read people's minds see their hearts. But like I said earlier, I kind of wanted to make this a skeptics guide to the Enneagram. And that's what we'll spend the first part of this podcast doing is just asking all the hard questions that many people have asked with regards to the Enneagram to get your thoughts on, you might say that's a great critique. And I have no response. But my guess is you've thought through these things, and you will have some interesting feedback. I want to start here. We had Jackie Hill Perry on our podcast and my co host, Keith Simon interviewed her. And he talked to them for about five minutes about the Enneagram because she's rather famously been against it. And so I wanted to continue in the heart of curiosity, not for tea, but I wanted to continue the dialogue that we've already had on the podcast, and get your feedback. We'll play a clip here of some of what Jackie Hill Perry has said on Instagram and in our podcast, and then I'll go ahead and let you respond.
Keith Simon 08:00
You blew up Instagram the other day when you started talking about the Enneagram
Jackie Hill Perry 08:36
Keith Simon 08:38
So let's don't go too much into it. Because I don't have any desire to argue with about it or agree with you. I don't know what I think about the Enneagram I'm not super into that kind of stuff just by personality. It interests me all that much. But what I want to get is below a little bit and to it seems like you're studying spiritual warfare or something. There seems to be more to it than just the Enneagram
Jackie Hill Perry 09:37
Keith Simon 09:38
What are you concerned about? What are you learning that's causing you to just be wary of lots of stuff, or reexamined stuff?
Jackie Hill Perry 09:45
There seems to be this, the very low key obsession with witchcraft, particularly with young people and women. You know, so kind of the crystals are the worshipping of The ancestors or spirit guides, and I think all of that kind of serves self, and also is a consequence of trying to make sense of suffering. And so I've just been spending a lot of time with digging into these things. And because I think Colossians two warns us to not be taken captive by philosophies by MTDC, according to the elemental spirits of the age, and I think Christians have to be talking about this stuff, because the enemy is very crafty,
Jesse Eubanks 10:39
I understand what the evidence that Jackie put forward, how easy it would be to come to that conclusion. Because it is alarming. I mean, the first time I think any Christian that has been utilizing the Enneagram, and all of a sudden you hear one of the architects of the Enneagram, using words like automatic writing, and then you hear these notions of Metatron. And you know, then this symbol is appears to come out of sort of a cultic stuff. I mean, that composite is very troubling. And I think it is something that Christians need to be wise and thoughtful about. And in fact, I would say this, if you're not discerning, like you come across those things, and you just brush it off. Like it's nothing, you know, I don't think that's the right posture either. And so I mean, I can go point by point on the reasons why these conclusions ultimately are faulty. So I have two podcasts, I host one called the INIA casts where we explore the Enneagram from a gospel perspective. And then I host another one called the love that neighborhood podcast, which we say if you baptized NPR, you would get our show,
Patrick Miller 11:39
which is great, because you sound so much like Ira Glass, perfect, that
Jesse Eubanks 11:43
would be fine with me, I will sleep well at night. And on that show, we decided to do an episode called The Truth About the Enneagram. And we follow the story of somebody who was a huge Enneagram enthusiast, she was kind of the Enneagram evangelist among her friends. And then she discovered the exact same things that Jackie Hill Perry did, and made a decision like I have to do something about this. At the same time, this guy named Tyler Salk comes across that same information, but he decides I'm going to go really far in depth. So He traces the whole history. I mean, he goes 1000s of years, he's looking for every shred of evidence that he can. And ultimately, what he discovers is that a lot of the ingredients come out of ancient Christianity. But ultimately, now the Enneagram is not Christian, it did not come from some ancient Christian tradition. And there is a truth to the church has been sold a lie. The reason the Enneagram is as popular as it is in the church, is because of the convenience story that it came from ancient Christians. And it did not. So Jackie Hill, Perry is right in terms of the main architects of this thing. None of them are Christians. They were New Age, folks. And so then we as Christians have to decide, is that alone, enough of a reason to say something is not true. And then you get into, you know, this reality I come from, and I suspect you come from the camp of all truth is God's truth. Other people come from a background where they say, Now, origins matter. And even if something is factually true, if it came from that tainted origin, we as Christians should reject it. And I'm more in the redemptive category. As far as I'm concerned, these New Age guys, we're just borrowing truth from the Lord. And we have an opportunity to utilize it in ways that are good.
Patrick Miller 13:32
Do you think that Christians should be de facto skeptical frameworks that come to us from, you know, idolatrous religious contexts?
Jesse Eubanks 13:39
I don't know. Do you use the alphabet? There's so many things in our world, right, that we utilize all the time that don't come from Christian sources. Truth is truth is truth is truth. Lies are lies, are lies are lies. And I think that thing that most Christians are scared of that's hard, is the gray of we know like, this is murder. And this is not murder. That's good. That's bad. But it's this big space in the middle. And again, a lot of us as Christians go, like why even mess with it, like I have everything that I need. But the truth is that we're very selective with how we apply that all of us say like, all I need is the Bible until you need an open heart surgery. All of us say all I need is the Bible, you know, until you need marriage counseling, like there are realities that the Bible is the ultimate source of truth. But it is definitely not the only things that are true in the world. The Lord has given us common grace, and he shows up in lots and lots of ways. The carburetor, my car works. And there's truth to the functions of how that works. At the end of the day, whether it's Christians or not, some guys looked at patterns in the ways that people relate and they categorize it in the same way that we get diagnosed with things all the time. Those are categorically here, all the symptoms, we put them together and we give it a name. And that's all the and Graham is attempting to do is there's chaos. Let's actually organize some of this. Look at it others patterns, let's give it some names.
Patrick Miller 15:06
I think the pushback might be something like this. Sure, when you're talking about heart surgery or carbon panics or, you know, very physical, natural realities, we should expect people to research and look into God's creation and understanding discern truths. Now, you can find Christians, by the way, he would strongly disagree with that. They'd say, No, you shouldn't take any modern medicine, we need to reject modern medicine for the reasons that you've laid out. So there are Christians that are trying to be consistent in that fashion. They would draw a distinction with soul care, they'd say, hey, but when we're getting into people's personalities, their hearts, their motives, that is a region that the Bible does seem to speak very specifically to, you know, the Bible won't give you a guide on how to fix your f150. But it does say a lot about the human heart. And so it seems to me like the critique might be the Enneagram is infringing on the Bible's proprietary space. And that's my main concern with so how would you respond to that critique? Yeah, I
Jesse Eubanks 15:56
would say that that is ringing a standard that the Bible itself does not hold up to inherently like the Bible itself. You know, there are passages where it is assumed the research shows that are pagan writings, and then the Israelites get their hands on it, and they re appropriated for worship of Yahweh. There are all sorts of conversations around the nature of the flood, and the fact that it's showing up in all of these other writings as well. You've got the apostles in the New Testament, engaging secular culture, quoting the poet's and not saying it, surely those idiots sort of way. But going, these thinkers are reaching for something that they don't fully understand, here's the greater truth that they're actually reaching for. So I always say like, the Enneagram is not complete, like it's not without Jesus. And frankly, at the end of the day, I don't particularly care if you use the Enneagram or not. I do care about who do you believe Jesus to be? Who is he to you and your life? But just because those are the ultimate questions doesn't mean we can't ask any other questions, just because those are issues of salvation, does not mean no other issues matter. And there's this binary approach, I think that is faulty and doesn't serve us well. Yeah.
Patrick Miller 17:13
I mean, as you're talking, I'm thinking specifically about the book of Proverbs, I believe there's an entire chapter in the book of Proverbs, that every evangelical Bible believing scholar says, These are not, you know, biblical critics who are trying to, you know, tear apart the text. And they all say, look, these Proverbs, these wisdom sayings, they're clearly drawn from Egyptian Proverbs, and they've just been brought into the Bible's Wisdom literature. And it's to your point, saying, Hey, we actually have examples in the Bible have to use a metaphor from the exodus of the Israelites pillaging the Egyptians taking their best in terms of their wisdom literature, their best aphorisms, and saying, Hey, these things actually are true. And we can affirm them, and build them into our own system of wisdom, which is not identical to the Egyptian system, but certainly does have overlap. And I like the idea of subversive fulfillment, saying, hey, there's something that's true here. And we have to subvert part of it, because it's not totally true. But we also need to show how the Bible is a stronger, fuller fulfillment of the thing that is true in this thing. And so that's one of the questions I find myself asking, which is, you know, how do we eat the meat and spit out the bones? You know, how do we take what's good, and get rid of what's bad? And when it comes to the INIA gram, what warnings would you get? I mean, say, Hey, here's the bonus, here's the stuff that I think you really need to have caution in, if you want it to help you in your walk with God in your life with others. I mean,
Jesse Eubanks 18:27
at the end of the day, the Enneagram cannot save you the end of the day, the Enneagram cannot show you moment by moment, what it means to love God and to love other people. It's a framework that gives us insight, it shows us where to fish, you know where to be curious about who we are and who other people are. But there's no volume of content that could be produced within the Enneagram. That is fully explanatory. And that's really I mean, some of the architects of the NGO, that's what they were after, they were after a key to unlocking all truth. And sadly, I would say they looked in the wrong, not the wrong area, they stopped short, you know, they stopped short of understanding the necessity of a Trinitarian. God, the necessity of Christ, the necessity of the Holy Spirit. So yeah, in terms of areas that I would caution, I don't know, man, it's sort of like whatever you get into something like we all get, like a little too excited about some things, whatever, whether it's like NASCAR racing, you know, or whether it's like, whatever your new hobby or some book theory, like we all have this tendency to latch on to things and to give them more power than they are capable of handling. And I think that the Enneagram is frequently given more explanatory power than it actually contains. But I think the faults on the other side is therefore it has no explanatory power. Well, no, like that's not how it works.
Patrick Miller 19:54
I want to move to a different critique. You can call this the enlightenment and critique or the scientific critique And it came from a friend of mine who by the way has changed his tune. But this was years ago, we were going on a trip together. And he told me I don't like the Enneagram. I don't like any Personality Typing. It wasn't just the Enneagram because they're not research based. And he called them I will never forget this. He called them personality, astrology. That's how we viewed it. And so if you've got Jackie Hill Perry, on the one side, saying the Enneagram is spiritually unsound. My friend was saying that it's scientifically unsound. And so I'm just going to read to you a little quote from a national institute of health because they were doing a large study of various studies done on the Enneagram. And it turns out, my friend has both kind of right and wrong. This is what they discovered. They said, after reviewing 104 independent samples, we found mixed evidence of reliability and validity. In terms of strength. Some factor, analytical work has shown partial alignment with prior theorizing, and subclasses. Show theory consistent relationships with other constructs, such as the Big Five, they're saying, hey, there is something true about some of these personality types, at least in terms of the large numbers, but they go on, they said also, several studies found the Enneagram was helpful for personal slash spiritual growth. However, factor analytic work has typically found fewer than nine factors. And no work has used clustering techniques to derive the nine types. Also, there's a little research supporting secondary aspects of Enneagram theory such as wings and intertype movement. So Jessie, how would you respond to the scientific research based critique is this just personality astrology?
Jesse Eubanks 21:26
First, if that's what you're reading, in your spare time, I want to have an intervention with you that was dreadfully dreadfully.
Patrick Miller 21:34
What you're not going to factor, sometimes. clustering techniques,
Jesse Eubanks 21:39
listen, there's a few layers to it. First off, I don't want to attempt to posture myself as somebody that's more knowledgeable than I am. The truth is that the Enneagram is something that I have observed as true on a repeated basis since I discovered it, and that I find in its application, for it to be profoundly accurate. That being said, I think, around Enneagram tests, I think that there's a lot to be desired. Because tests have 1000 factors in them. Tests are self verifying tests are, it only knows what you tell it? How many points of data did the test take from you before it spit out a result. So I always say tests can tell you where to be curious. But they're never going to actually tell you the full picture, the Enneagram as a whole, there are plenty of psychologists that do endorse it, Dan Siegel, Dan allander. And folks that get behind it and say, Hey, there's a lot of truth here. But of course, there are other folks that do not one thing that's sort of interesting for me, and it kills me, because I cannot get him to go on record with his research is I have a close friend, who's a very well respected psychologists who oversees a large department. And his whole career is about research and data. When I first brought up the Enneagram, his response was very similar to your friends, he basically sort of very politely sort of said, Oh, you're like your pop psychology is so cute. And he then made a decision, he and another psychologist said, Let's go study the Enneagram. Let's figure out if there's any validity to that. One of the main reasons I wrote my book is because that friend came back to me later, after a year of research and said, It sound, it's solid, the evidence is there. And so I said, Would you please publish it? So I can get these people to stop asking me these questions. And he said, No, Enneagram people are fine, anti Enneagram, people are really weird. And I don't want to deal with all that. And so he actually came to me and really encouraged me to write the book. And it was because he said, the research actually is much more sound than he believed it to be. That's
Patrick Miller 23:47
really interesting. And I think there's a validity to saying whether or not this is, you know, drawn from or rooted in research. There is a fallacy that unless something is quote, unquote, scientific, and I've done all my statistical studies and methods, then it doesn't count. And I like what you said, well, but at the end of the day, this has been helpful. Like, if the goal is to have a helpful tool, then the question isn't doesn't match up with the best research out there. It does seem to me at least to be does the tool work? Does it accomplish the job? And if it's to help people relate well, and it's helping people relate? Well? Well, gosh, the tool is working. And it's helping and that's valuable. And I mean, in this study, they did say that they found that it's helpful for personal and spiritual growth. So clearly, there's something about it that works.
Jesse Eubanks 24:28
Yeah. Because there's also studies out there that show that the Enneagram does meet the threshold for predictability for and I wish I had the language in front of me, but it meets the threshold for predictability in terms of personality inventories. Now the deal is this. There are also some Christians out there that deny the concept of personality. There are some Christians that are out there that they don't like personality assessments as a whole. That's a separate conversation. Like if you're categorically that's where you are. The rejection that you gave up byproduct of a larger worldview that you have. And so I'm gonna affirm the Big Five, I'm gonna affirm attachment theory. I'm gonna introverts and extroverts like I'm gonna affirm those things. So the Enneagram fits for me within that framework for those other folks not so much.
Patrick Miller 25:15
Well, and that's a good point. If you're issues with personality types, in general, the anagram isn't alone going to convince you. Along those lines, I want to get into the main question that I have. So I've dealt with Jackie Hills question I've dealt with my friends question in terms of personality, astrology, and I want to get into the one that I'm wrestling with, as a fan of the Enneagram. And I'm sorry, it's gonna take a little bit of setup. But I really want your take here, you're almost done walking through fire, we'll move on here in a second. So this critique might be a bit more philosophical or even theological, we undeniably, I think, live in the age of therapeutic self expressive individualism. And that's a really big term, maybe it's not as bad as clustering techniques. But it's big. And so I want to explain that for a second. All you really need to do though, to understand this idea is watch any Disney movie, at all the basic ideas down, here are some of the fundamental beliefs. One, your true self is the self that's on the inside. Number two, the world around you wants to cage you by telling you who you are. Number three, you need to discover the true self inside yourself, affirm that true self and authentically express that true self, externally. And number four, the highest virtue in life is authentic self expression of that internal self. Now, we have to admit the fact that this is quite different from how humans have thought about the self for most of history, for most of history that self was understood is existing in a web of interdependent relationships. You are a mother or a father or a son or a daughter, a person or a deacon, a peasant, a lord, a town's blacksmith, a baker, candlestick maker, we get the idea. In other words, while people understood that other people were different, they weren't individualistic, about the identity of the self, you are who you are primarily in relationships, and being true to your true identity as a father would mean probably suppressing something that you might feel on the inside. And so we could maybe call that something like self giving communitarianism over self expressive individualism. And so this is the nub of my critique or question, really, because I'm wrestling with it. In the ancient world, I don't think you found yourself, you might push back by looking on the inside, it seems like you found yourself by looking around you and looking up at God. And our culture tells us to look on the inside. And I think this creates a terrible weight of anxiety, because that means that I'm ultimately responsible for finding and defining and expressing myself. And so I fear this is part of why personality types have become such a rage. It's because they're a covert way to let something external, a personality test define something that's internal, you know, myself, my personality, they kind of alleviate the weight of individual identity formation by reinforcing it. Yes, you are, you are on the inside. And this test can quantify and tell you exactly who that person is externally. That said, it's very different than looking around you. And I feel that sometimes that we're so shaped by our environment, that we start to live in the typology like, I'm a three or I'm a two, or I'm an eighth that we believe to be true of us when when we should be maybe focused on looking externally at other people, in our vocations and in our lives. So do you fear that personality testing can reinforce this kind of self expressive look on the inside, express yourself individualism,
Jesse Eubanks 28:19
I think that those tendencies already existed, and that the tests are just revealing that tendency. So I think at the same kind of people that are wired in such a way that they sort of do sort of navel gazing, and they do, sort of no one gets to decide who I am, except me. I'm going to declare myself full throttle, all of that stuff that has nothing to do with the Enneagram. We see that the scriptures testifying to that notion, that notion of the desire for each of us as people to be self made, to decide for ourselves who we are, to cut ourselves off from the community to get one up on everybody at whatever it is. So I think that every age has its issues that it is working through. An example would be this 125 years ago, arranged marriages were the way to go. Because it was your family deciding what was best for you. And then we move forward in time, and now we say no, dating is the way to go. In fact, we've gone further than that. Now it's hookup culture, because the self defines Well, are we really saying that arranged marriages are the exclusive way that Christians should go? Well, are we really saying that only dating like, there's some mysterious mixture between the self and the community and we see that like, I am not totally my community, I am not totally myself. I am somehow both myself and a part of others. Honestly, not unlike the Trinity. There's that sense in which each of the Godhead is its own person, and yet somehow is one so when we come to this notion, enough like, isn't the Enneagram just sort of another way of feeding this sort of therapeutic self obsession, and therefore should we throw it out as kind of look back at him like, nothing has ever been abused more than the Bible, nothing. If we go off the litmus test of well isn't just going to be abused to the wrong ends, throw the Bible out first. But we wouldn't do that, because it's also the source of truth. So I think in this age in which we do have a tendency to be very self obsessed, the Enneagram can definitely be gasoline on that fire. I don't think it started to fire. And I think that anyone who's doing their legitimate work with the Enneagram, and they're really doing the work on themselves would get to a place where they would go, Holy crap, I'm really kind of messed up here. And I need other people. I mean, the whole thing is kind of negative man, like, yeah, a lot of the early students at the INIA, gram reported having lots of depression, and lots of deep emotional struggles, because it was so negative, it was this thing that was showing them, here's all the ways you're broken, anybody who's died doing their real work with the Enneagram. Like, I don't know, man, your self esteem is going to be kept in check, you're not gonna really walk away going, like, I'm amazing, you're gonna walk away going like, I'm kind of awesome and a hot mess simultaneously.
I've always joked that the best way to tell which Enneagram number you are, is by figuring out which one you want to be the least, that's probably the one because it's the one that taps into your worst problems. And so you just don't want it to be true. If you like, I'll take anyone else's problems, but not mine, because they're hurt too much. They're too painful and too real, which I think you're getting at it is very dark and negative.
Jesse Eubanks 31:42
Yeah. I mean, if we're talking about the Enneagram, when we get to the one where you start to feel embarrassed, we're on to something, as I talked
Patrick Miller 31:47
to people who've taken it, that's something that you find to be the case, that feeling of like you said, it's like walking around naked, like, whoa, people are seeing things they're not supposed to see right now. And I'm not comfortable with that. I want to go back to something you said earlier about the Trinity, because I thought that was really fascinating. And an interesting thing to consider just as you're processing. This is the guy who's writing about the Enneagram. Do you think of identity as something that's primarily internal? Or as something that's external and given to us? Or both? I mean, how do you navigate that? Identity
Jesse Eubanks 32:16
is bestowed. And when we do not receive our identity from God, we have no choice but to go out and attempt to craft. And we do live in an age in which we can be driven to try, okay, I've got this part of me that feels I don't know who I am. And I feel a lot of shame around that I need to go craft that. And then I want everybody to be worshipping of how awesome I am and all of that stuff. We have to receive our identity from some place by which it can never be taken from us. Because the truth is that, you know, somebody could discover a tweet that I wrote 10 years ago, and my whole world could fall apart. And the question is, is like, did I just lose my identity? Well, no, not if my identity was given to me by somebody that has a permanent standing who doesn't shift all the time, all that to say is that there's a sense in which identity is bestowed. But in the mystery, of participating in life with God in Christ, he somehow allows us to be co authors as well. And it is this strange mystery of sovereignty and agency that somehow coexist. God is the author of life. And yet God also says, come and participate in this life making with me. So yeah, there's a sense in which I've made choices through my life that shaped who I am. But if you take all of that away, the things that I pride myself on, am I still in me? Am I still a person? Am I still somebody? And there's a reality that okay, well, now we're talking about identity as soul making like, is my soul, that most pure representation of my identity, the part of me that will live on forever? And I think we, as Christians would testify to Yeah, like, that's what we're getting at. But somehow, whatever is loosed on Earth is loosed in heaven bound on Earth. There's something there's a relationship between here and now and what is to come, where our souls being shaped and formed, and therefore our identity is also being shaped and formed. So there's the permanence of I'm a son of God, I'm the beloved of Christ. And also, I'm of these other things that are also in process. There's
Patrick Miller 34:26
a lot of secular scholars who credit the Apostle Paul with the creation of the self, and with the creation of a notion of psychology. In other words, the idea that there's some sort of internal person that is me and uniquely me. And I have a hard time arguing with that, actually, because it's clear that I mean, Paul talks about all sorts of internal battles, struggles, motivations, and he's navigating those in his letters and helping others do likewise. I think what I wrestle with, like what you were talking about, okay, can I affirm like this is the part Have me that exists forever. There's part of me that wanted to say yeah, I think so. But then there was also this primary said, No, I think I disagree. It's something I do a totally weird illustration here. Yeah. Do you remember the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks? Yeah. Okay, so for our younger listeners, it's this movie about a guy. He's super successful, and he's ruining his life. And it's all going down, you know the crapper, and he's losing his marriage, and he's losing everything that actually matters. But he's, you know, rich and successful. And he's on an airplane, and it crashes. And he's the sole survivor. And he ends up spending years on a island by himself. And it kind of proposes this question like, am I by myself a person. And I mean, it's almost what he's wrestling with, you know, he literally has to find a volleyball and paint a face on it with his own blood, because he needs a person to exist. Like, if there is no other out there. I am not me. And of course, he's learning on the island that he gave up all the important things and needs to go back and try to make things right and all the classic lessons. But that's the one thing that I wrestle with is saying, Am I by myself really a person? Or am I who I am in relationship to others? Like, which one of those is more fundamental? I don't know if you have the answer to my question, but this is something I've wrestled a lot with.
Jesse Eubanks 36:07
But I think it's a both and I mean, if you look at the patterns of Jesus, throughout the Gospels, it's a life of engagement and a life of retreat. And a lot of us prefer this sort of very engaged lifestyle, and we actually resist retreat, and others really love retreat and resist engagement. But what Jesus does show us in those moments is this pattern of he is who he is, on his own with the Lord. He also is who he is in response to the community around him. And the truth is, he's wildly unpredictable throughout the Gospels, because he's customizing every expression of who he is, to the person that he's relating to. There are 50 versions of me, depending on the room that I'm in the context that I'm in the way that I'm communicating, like, you know, the way I'm talking right now is probably not the way I'm going to talk to my kids later, you know, and those are both equally true of who I am. That just the you know, Patrick to go back to like your idea of this sort of obsession with identity. I do think there's a sense in which people are like, there's a me and it's always me, and I'm expressing me in every context. And I'm like, not really, I mean, that's not really true. There's lots of versions of who we are. But we do have to have this ability to be alone with the Lord and disability to be in relationship with all these other people. But I do agree with you, 100%. And that movie, the notion is Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks would go crazy. Do you? Could you imagine Tom Cruise on that island? That would have been a different movie, you would have been up and down on some couches? Yeah, right, right. But Tom Hanks, he had to have somebody else. There's all this evidence that shows we get really sick. I mean, that's one of the biggest things that threatens elderly people is that when a spouse dies, and their adult children get busy, and grandchildren get busy, the more that a person isolates, the faster we deteriorate, we're made for community.
Patrick Miller 37:59
So the way some people, you can say you're being a different person in different contexts, and of course, there is that kind of thing where like, I'm faking, or I'm lying, or I'm trying to deceive people be something that I'm not, and I think we can identify that. But there's also a more fundamental reality that actually, in each of those contexts, I am who I am more so because of the relationship. So I think the practice example is like, when I'm talking to my daughter, I have to probably suppress some of my natural introvert tendencies, you know, I want to go be by myself, or maybe I want to talk about myself. And there's all kinds of things that I want to do. And I think, you know, an expressive individuals would say, Well, you're not being authentic with your daughter, if you're not telling her what you really think you're not expressing what you really feel. Whereas I would say, No, I am crucifying those desires, so that I can be present with my daughter and care about her. And in that relationship, I am being truer to who I am by being a father and not just a self expressor. That's the real meat, but that real meat cannot exist outside of that relationship with my daughter. It's something unique that I have with her. And so I hear what you're saying and saying, Hey, we've got to have a big both. And here there is something that's uniquely you, but that uniquely, you think, really can't exist outside of relationships. It's incomprehensible outside of relationships.
Jesse Eubanks 39:10
And the whole thing is this. I mean, the Enneagram reveals, like, it's kind of an insane thought that I should expect everyone around me to change to suit me. That's kind of part of what the Enneagram is getting at is this a certain degree of narcissism that sets in with all nine of the personality types, that fundamentally requests that the world change, to suit my preferences and meet my needs. That's not how things work. The truth is, I have to do the work, I can either ask the whole world to change, which is not possible, or I can do my work, and I can change. Do you
Patrick Miller 39:45
think along the lines of what we were discussing earlier, which is the tendency, I mean, you said identity is most fundamentally given? Do you think there's a risk of people using the Enneagram in a way that allows it to give you your identity and you begin to live into your Enneagram number? As opposed to using it as a tool to well, like you just said, lay down my life love others relate to others? Well,
Jesse Eubanks 40:05
sure, but I mean, that's what we all do with everything. Like, you know, if I'm a musician, I am a musician, if I'm a business person, I am a business person. If I'm a loving mother, I am the most loving, like, all of us do that all of us kind of find a thing. And then we ask it to do something it's not capable of doing we over identify, even with our strengths. In fact, that's our biggest tendency, you know, is to not just ignore our weaknesses, but to over identify with our strengths. So when we talk about this idea of Don't you think it's a risk? The answer is yes. But I don't think it's an inherent thing. I think that's a human heart thing. That's a Lord, I need you because I am insecure about who I am. I feel scared, I feel guilty, I feel ashamed. And I'm grabbing all these things to try to fix this issue. I need you to fix this for me, and I need you to show up through the people in my life. It's a both and it's not just sort of like, God, I need you. And like, you know, I'm going to go to this island, and I'm going to sit there and then you're gonna show up one on one maybe, but probably not like the Lord is going to show you the people in our life. Yeah, and I want to say this respectfully, but like there's a laziness to that line of arguments, like, you know, this idea of, well, the Enneagram is just sort of exaggerating people's search for identity. Oxygen does that, like everything that we do, from hobbies, to family relationships to careers to you got a plus in a class in high school, like whatever it is, it's just a human heart issue.
I think it's probably especially characteristic of our moment, because we've dismantled many of the things that historically gave people a sense of identity. And now we're all flailing to some degree or another, trying to someone, please tell me who I am. Someone, please explain it. And it goes back fundamentally to what you said earlier, which is, yeah, you do have a need to receive your name to receive your sense of self. But that's something that ultimately, only Jesus can provide. And, you know, I often think about people like to ask me what happens after I die. And I'm a weirdo, because I don't think the Bible says much except for resurrection. And so I'm like, Hey, you'll be resurrected. That's what I know, like, know what happens in my soul and all that stuff. I've kind of landed on this funny answer, where I'll say, you know, I don't know what happens between your death and your resurrection. What's clear, is that Jesus is with you, and Jesus is protecting you, and Jesus is securing you. And so what fundamentally last into eternity is a relationship like you are who you are in relationship with him. And that relationship is the thing he secures and protects and brings to bear in the resurrection that will define you know, that resurrected life. And that is a total reframing of the least for me, it reframes my own desire to flail around and have someone tell me who I am and allows me to use tools like the Enneagram, because I'm not looking for them to have more leverage more power than they actually do. It's just like, hey, here's a helpful tool, it's gonna help me understand how to relate to others, and maybe confess some sins and grow spiritually, which, you know, seems like a pretty healthy
Jesse Eubanks 43:03
place to be. Yeah, I mean, yesterday, I had a staff member come to me to address some issues that they were having in my leadership style, and some of the ways in which I had accidentally hurt them, and really made them feel shamed. But here's the thing, it was hard to hear, because I hate that I did that. It was not shocking, because they were saying things that the Enneagram had already allowed me to begin to name over the last decade. And so it put me in a situation where I didn't go once you're just making things up, it put me in a situation where I was able to go, you know, I'm sorry, that happened. It does not surprise me at all. It can happen when I get into these places in these situations. It allowed me to take a deeper ownership. Patrick, one of the things that he talked about, that I thought was worth commenting on is in this era, this age of identity. And you talked about this idea of like people trying to find things to kind of fix that. And I remember years ago, hearing Scotch Itani talk about this idea that research shows that the more fundamental the questions are that we ask young adults to ask themselves, the more complicated those become, and the more big boulder size they become, the more emotionally distressing it is. So example would be, if it used to be, who am I to this community? Or the question might have been like, am I a man or am I a woman only in terms of coming of age? When am I a man, when am I a woman? And so there were these rites of passage and you go through them and you go, click Done. I'm a man, I'm a woman. And then it became questions of who am I in relationship with this community? And now we're in a space where it's like, am I even the gender that corresponds with my sex? What's happening is we're seeing an increasingly distressed state of our young adults because they're being told they should be asking these very fundamental questions that are hard wired actually into who they are. But there's incongruency. And where Christians can look and go like, Hey, listen, none of us feel at home in our bodies, we're all struggling with these issues. All of us struggle with what it means to be a man be a woman. Yes, the church has screwed. I mean, we could say all these things. But ultimately, we come back to this place where our identity comes to rest in Christ. And we don't have to ask as many of these fundamental questions, it just drew to mind that notion of the disservice we're doing to a lot of young adults by saying, you should ask yourself all these questions that once upon a time were baked into who you are, you know, by biology.
Patrick Miller 45:35
I mean, it's interesting historically, because I think some people are going to hear this and think I want to go back and live in the eight hundreds. And that's my ideal world. That's not the point. Not saying that. But if I imagine, you know, a young man born to the town blacksmith, who spends his entire life, you know, in a 10 mile radius, mostly around people he's known since he was born, living in an intergenerational household with a family name and learning the trait of his father. Think about the number of questions he never had to ask, well, you just named one like, am I a man? Well, yeah. Let's move on. Like, who am I? Well, you're a part of this family. And what am I here for? Well, you make stuff out of iron. Like, that's what you do. It's what your family has done for generations? What kind of question is that? There's all of these Givens that I receive. And so I don't have to even ask some of the fundamental questions that we're asking today. We hear that and we can hear all the problems with it, we can say, well, what if he doesn't want to be a blacksmith? And what if he's, you know, terrible at metallurgy, and in one of his family is just a total wreck. And he's just gonna, you know, replicate the sins of others, like, we could see all the problems, but there is a grace in the givenness of identity. And so I mean, to your point, now that we're living in a time where literally, everything's up for grabs, and nothing is clear, and everything about yourself is malleable and liquid. How do we as Christians, you know, give people a clear sense of identity. So I believe we're moving away from the anagram for a second, but I am just curious. I mean, how do you think Christians who step into this? I mean, does the Enneagram even have a role to play in how we are helping millennials? Gen Z? I mean, really, every age group has we're all wrestling with these questions.
Jesse Eubanks 47:08
I mean, for certain, there's a lot of cultural trends that go on that are representative of very specific aspects of the Enneagram. You know, I'll give this as an example. All of the crowd that was the most concerned with government overstep concerning masks. Those are body triad people explain what that means. In Enneagram theory, there are three triads, one is emotionally driven, one's thinking driven, one's action driven, like that's kind of how it works. But those folks that are the three personality types that are in what's called the body triad, their primary concern in life is autonomy and freedom. That is what drives them as people. That's what compels them as people, it's what motivates them. It's the filter they make decisions through. So then all of a sudden, here comes the government, a government is saying, You can't do this, you can't do this, you can't do this, you can't do this, and taking away their autonomy, that's going to activate people very significantly. In the same way in this sort of era, where there's a whole lot of identity question stuff, that's actually hard triad question like, who am I? That's types 234. Like that's their fundamental question is, do I have the identity I need? So it's real fascinating, like in young adults, right? Now, you got a lot of identity stuff going on. And you have a whole lot of body triad stuff going on? And there's like, I don't know, not as much energy going on in the head triad as maybe historically true. What would
Patrick Miller 48:32
motivate that try? So if you have one today, I'm motivated by autonomy, I want freedom them and saying, hey, you know, they're answering this heart base. I'm either 3443. So it's no shocker. I'm like, fixated on the Who am I question? And I've thought a lot about this. Like, oh, yeah, that makes sense. It kind of fits with my temperament. But what motivates that head triad? Yeah,
Jesse Eubanks 48:48
they're searching for security? You know, hold on, let me back up. I overstated. So let me correct myself. Here's the way we are actually seeing it show up and young adults. Now a lot of that security piece, Gen Z has watched the generation before them being wild student loan debt, they've watched their parents go through multiple recessions, in some cases losing their homes altogether. One of the terms that surrounds Gen Z is this idea that they are very ambitious. And as part of that ambition, they are not willing to take on the risks that the generations before them were willing to. That's actually very much that's that triad kind of stuff. So it's an interesting dichotomy. Like, if you begin to look at these pieces, then when I sit down with a person and I'm having a conversation, and they're expressing everything from they shouldn't be taking away our autonomy because of mass all the way to the other side, which is as a white male, you're an oppressor if I'm having those conversations. The Enneagram gives me language to be curious about let's trace this back. What's the real motivation that's driving this person? So that can kind of get out of the like, sort of obtuse, nebulous, malformed philosophy, and I'm Getting actually, ultimately back into life story. The reason that this person is angry is because if I trace it back, I can start to kind of see what makes them tick as a person. And then actually, we can probably talk about, what are you really upset about? What are you really scared about? And the same thing goes for I mean, probably a lot of your listeners, folks that listen to our show as well, folks that are very concerned about the trajectory of our culture as a whole. Well, let's actually get into specifics on that. Let's trace that back. And the truth is, you have a specific thing that's activating you. And it's slightly different than your neighbors. So yeah, we might have this big broad concern, but I don't know the Enneagram gives his language to go more specific.
Patrick Miller 50:37
I think that's helpful. Because when we have debates over topics, especially when you're having those debates, either in media or on social media, or in any sort of public forum, we tend to debate about the ideas. And by the way, I think there is a place to debate about ideas about the topics themselves. But if you talk to a pastor, or just an everyday person who's facing something similar, but in an interpersonal relationship, so it's not happening in public, it's, you know, me talking to my brother or me talking to my spouse, or my friend, we don't we do handle these things, or we should, I think, handle them differently, and often goes to where you're going. It's like help me understand your motivations, right? Like, Oh, you don't want to wear a mask, because you're worried about someone taking away your freedom and autonomy. By the way, that's a way more interesting conversation, at least in my mind, it is. And the other time that you want to wear a mask, because you really value security and safety, and you don't want people to be harmed. Okay, that's really interesting. Like, there's actually beautiful things about both of those, right? God calls us to love our neighbor. And so we should care about the security, not us, of ourselves, but others. By the way, God has given us freedom and autonomy and creativity. And there is something wrong about curtailing that freedom, because he gave it to us, and we have a responsibilities. So I think that's a fascinating way. Do you have any other examples that come to mind culture, like, oh, yeah, this issue is being driven by this triad or this group of people in the Enneagram. Here's
Jesse Eubanks 51:49
another example would be a lot of the protests that took place, especially for the last four or five years. Again, that's a lot of body triad energy, because they're justice oriented folks, the way that they're wired is they're struggling, this issue of guilt versus innocence. And they're very oriented around fixing what is wrong. And so a lot of times, when you see folks that are out, and they're protesting, it's a lot of body triad energy man. Because again, like, you might get some head triad folks that are out there and doing some of that protesting, but those folks are more likely to be blogging about it, or more likely to be dialoguing about it, or more likely to be reading about it early. But body trap folks tend to actually they're going out because they're action people, they're going to go out and they're actually going to take action. So you get into the heart triad stuff. And there is an obsession, everything from I mean, good grief, social media is like unhealthy three energy all day long. Because everybody's cultivating, I'm putting out there an image that I want you to admire. But a lot of this sort of no one can even declare my gender. Like, I mean, that's some for business all day long as well, like this idea of I have a psychological need to just be my own person. And I say that as a four, like we are driven to be unlike I don't want to make it more simple. All I'm saying is, it's an ingredient, it is one of the activating ingredients is the need for authenticity. And again, all this conversation is about something good taken too far, you know, to use Keller's language, you know, we take good things, and we make them ultimate, that the Enneagram the Enneagram is an exploration of what good thing and I made ultimate, and that if I don't have it, it sends me into an existential crisis. Yeah,
it's really interesting that a social media example sticks out to me, from a three or four, it feels like it depends on the day how I wake up. But you know, as I've thought about social media, I have, I'm beginning to realize focus more on these heart who am I issues by which I mean, my major critique of social media is often hey, here's a platform where your main goal is to project an image of yourself for the dopamine hit of accolades coming in from others to build an audience to have a profile, which is like a very three ish type thing to want to do. And so like, of course, hey, I've got an insight into that, because I'm battling it, you know, that's right there in my own heart. And a lot of times, you know, I'll get critiques of the pieces that I write, you know, critiquing why I'm saying people are motivated on social media and be like, No, you're wrong. Why social media is so great is because it's a democratizing platform. Everybody has an equal voice here. Everybody can talk, everybody can share their opinions. And this has allowed us to elevate the voices of people who have historically been ignored. And so you think it's out here about cultivating a following, but that's not what I'm doing. What I'm doing out here is trying to speak up for truth and justice. And as I'm saying that I'm realizing, huh, I tend to write that off and say, Yeah, that's really cute. Like that sounds really virtuous on the surface, and that's why you're saying it, but you're just like everybody else. And now I'm kind of wondering huh Maybe there's actually an honest statement from those people, maybe they're actually saying this is what motivates me on social media and their set of risks, both totally different than the set of risks that I'm rather attuned to. Mm hmm.
Jesse Eubanks 55:12
Yes. Yeah, that's good man. So in even thinking about how can we utilize the Enneagram. When we think about culture, and we think about cultural engagement, here's a simple one that most of us do almost every day, we get online. And when we get online, everything from family members to sort of old acquaintances to platform people that we follow to brands, there are different motives at play, you know, so if I come across somebody that's posting content, and I begin to see themes to some of their work, it starts to clue me in to maybe these are some of the things that are motivating them. You know, if I read something from Ann Voskamp, I know that I'm probably going to encounter a well of depth that she's going to take her time with her language, and she's going to help me really see the beauty of God, you know, if I read something from Philip Yancey, I know that I'm going to come across a guy that is really, you know, tuned into questions, and he wants to know more, and he's pulling things out. And he's doing these interesting observations. And like, these are giving me a sense of how these people tick. But conversely, if I begin to see online behavior, that's troubling to me. Like maybe there's people that I love, I love their message, I might love their platform, their podcasts, or books or conferences, whatever. But online, I begin to see a part of them that is not as restrained. It's not edited in the ways that there are other continents that are doing their thing sort of out of a more quick reaction space. It can show me another side of people's personalities, it can also put me on who's probably going to be capable of doing a genuine interaction online. Hey, I got a question about this. Or maybe there's another way to think about this. And folks that are probably not going to receive that well. And the best thing is, let them do their thing. And go over here and do something different. I've
Patrick Miller 57:04
had to learn that lesson myself. That's actually a two way lesson in the sense of becoming more self aware, like I talked about earlier of how my own motives are shaping and directing my behaviors online. But then almost having more empathy and compassion with people who are maybe doing things that I might honestly say, I think that's immoral, or despicable, or it might have strong words for the behavior itself. But I've grown to have more compassion, because I've realized what's motivating, that is often a mixed bag, like it might be some really sincere things like I care about people, and I want to protect people. And I want what's just and I want what's good, mixed with all kinds of other ulterior motives. But if I can see the goodness in what they're doing, even if I dislike it, I can find a sense of compassion and empathy. And personally, I'm less driven to feel like I need to respond, which is actually like a really stupid statement. No one ever needs to respond to anything ever. But it helps tremendously. And so I mean, I think there's a book to be written, there are like a little EBO, social media Enneagram personality.
Jesse Eubanks 58:05
My friend told me that I should write a book called on social media, and just about how it's destroying all our relationships. But that sounds pretty negative. I don't know how to do that. But I think
Patrick Miller 58:13
it might be a helpful book for people though. That's creative. Well, Jesse, thank you so much for being on the show with us today. It's been fantastic talking about the Enneagram letting me come at it as a skeptic, even though I'm not a super skeptic, myself. But these are questions I've asked and wondered. And it's fun to discuss them and explore them together. If people want to follow you and your work, where can they find you.
Jesse Eubanks 58:36
So there's basically two realms of work that I do. The first one is lead an organization called Love that neighborhood, we are like the Peace Corps with Bibles. So we recruit young adults from all over the world, they take a vow of poverty and live in community together. And then they serve with ministries here in our city. So you can learn more about that at Love thy neighborhood.org. And then also our corresponding podcast, which is called Love by neighborhood. The second round of work I do is for relate better, which is all about how do we build better relationships with God others in ourselves, we have a podcast called The INIA caste. And you can learn more about that at relate better.com We have a bunch of free giveaways as well that you can get there, but especially related to this topic today, make sure to check out our episode, the truth about the Enneagram. And you can see where you land. And then of course, you can also pick up my book, how we relate understanding God, yourself and others through the Enneagram. And you can pick that up wherever it is you get good books.
Patrick Miller 59:27
That's great. Well, we'll link to that episode in the show notes as well as some of the other projects that you mentioned. Like I said, it's been great having you on the show. Would you mind just closing us with a word of prayer?
Jesse Eubanks 59:36
Yeah, I'd love to. Father give us discernment. Give us wisdom, God we will always forever be limited in our ability to see the God we are neither blind nor all seeing Atler we are forever dependent. Help us to rely on you to depend on you. And Lord, help us to use whatever good and true tools you have made available to us that ultimately A our people would come to know you didn't Christ name, amen.
Patrick Miller 1:00:03
Hey man, thanks for being with us today.
Jesse Eubanks 1:00:05
Yeah, glad to be here.