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Will the Enneagram test change how you see the world?

Are you a Type 2? Maybe you’re a Type 1, but how do you think you’d work with a Type 8? And don’t even ask about sixes and sevens.

The Enneagram of Personality Types has become more and more popular in Gainesville in recent years. According to the Enneagram Institute, it’s “a modern synthesis of a number of ancient wisdom traditions,” that was put together by Oscar Ichazo in the mid-1900s.

Think of it as a modern-day, and more accurate, astrological sign or an updated Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

The Enneagram is another personality test that poses questions the test-taker is supposed to be completely honest in answering. The test then assigns a number — one through nine — and that’s how they can identify their personality.

Each number is also assigned a title: The helper, the achiever, the loyalist, among other things to help identify each person’s personality and how they interact with the other types.

As the test has grown in popularity in general in recent years, it’s especially grown in churches and religious circles.

Reid Mason, 29, learned about it through his co-workers at Adventures in Missions, a Christian missions organization in Gainesville.

“Our big two tests are the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs,” said Mason, also a member of Sola City Church. “(Myers-Briggs) is kind of how you process information whereas the Enneagram is more about your soul, your motivations … I teach them together because they teach you different parts of who you are.”

Mason is an Enneagram nine, the peacemaker, also described as the easygoing, self-effacing type who is receptive, reassuring, agreeable and complacent, according to the Enneagram Institute. He said the results were spot-on, but they didn’t feel good.

“Whatever type most offends you, that’s probably your type,” Mason said. “As an Enneagram nine, I’m prone to apathy and passivity and I’m prone to sitting in a burning building and not doing anything. When I first read that, it hurt. But that’s how you know it’s right: It hurts you.”

But that’s the exact reason Rich Rogers, 55, editorial director and director of strategic outreach at Free Chapel, said he isn’t a fan of the test.

“What it does is it tells you all the good things,” Rogers said. “But then there’s all the pitfalls, the negatives … I just found some of these things to be almost demeaning.”

Some of the things he called “harsh” from the Enneagram two, the helper, result he received were descriptions like, “They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs.”

“I wouldn’t want to give that to somebody,” Rogers said. “Or they take the test and they have to read that.”

Mason said that’s the point, though. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. And he said the Enneagram “isn’t the ending place,” which is where he believes a lot of people go wrong when taking it.

They take the Enneagram test, hoping it will give them answers about who they should be, but Mason said it’s supposed to give you the tools to better understand yourself and others.

“This isn’t the ending place, this doesn’t describe me as a person,” Mason said. “But it gives me a framework, a language or context to give me some more clarity on what to go after and what to look for, what to be aware of.”

Rogers found that to be difficult as he took the test. He didn’t feel that his results lined up with how he saw himself, and on top of that — he felt it wasn’t reliable.

“It’s not that I’m opposed to it,” Rogers said. “I know there’s a lot of good buzz about it, but I’m saying when I took it four times, I came back a different type each time.”

He recommends people take it at different stages in their lives, as he did, to see their results.

“Maybe at a higher-level leadership, these are some discussions you’d like to have,” Rogers said. “But for the layperson or volunteer, I don’t know that I’d want to hand them something and say this is who you are.”

Mason said he can agree with some of the critics and skeptics of the test depending on how they’re using it.

But the test has helped him in his marriage. He understands why his wife makes different decisions and handles things differently than he does. He understands what his boss at work needs out of a project before he ever approaches him, too.

“Even if you don't know someone’s Enneagram number, just the very fact that you're aware that other people think differently than you opens up your level of freedom, your level of trust,” Mason said.

He said the Enneagram test creates vulnerability in people -- identifying their weaknesses and blind spots as well as their strengths. Through that vulnerability, Mason said each person can grow. Especially young people, many of whom are using the test now because of the changes in their churches.

“Our generation and the generation beneath us is the most anxious, stressed and ashamed generation there is,” Mason said. “Any kind of framework that lifts our eyes away from that and gives us some weapons of truth against that kind of thing is incredibly transformational for us.”

The nine types from The Enneagram Institute

Type 1, The reformer: The rational, idealistic type: Principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic

Type 2, The helper: The caring, interpersonal type: Demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing and possessive

Type 3, The achiever: The success-oriented, pragmatic type: Adaptive, excelling, driven and image-conscious

Type 4, The individualist: The sensitive, withdrawn type: Expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed and temperamental

Type 5, The investigator: The intense, cerebral type: Perceptive, innovative, secretive and isolated

Type 6, The loyalist: The committed, security-oriented type: Engaging, responsible, anxious and suspicious

Type 7, The enthusiast: The busy, fun-loving type: Spontaneous, versatile, distractible and scattered

Type 8, The challenger: The powerful, dominating type: Self-confident, decisive, willful and confrontational

Type 9, The peacemaker: The easygoing, self-effacing type: Receptive, reassuring, agreeable and complacent

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