Last Sunday, after worship, the children at Dunham Road presented me with a medal for my smile. I cannot begin to tell you how deeply moved I was by this or how grateful I was to receive it. It blew me away to be honest.
I go about my life in an enthusiastic manner and I try to give off a positive attitude. My work as a minister is challenging, but I do love it. It means an awful lot to me that others recognise this, especially the children. They cannot be fooled.
By nature I am an optimist an enthusiast. I get excited by new things in life, this is my natural state. I will never forget the first time I flew. As I approached the plane I was visibly shaking, my whole body was exploding with excitement. I remember that my mum was also shaking and I asked her about it. The difference was that she was shaking with fear, where as with me it was purely about the thrill of what I was about to engage with. I was overcome with excitement.
As a student minister I spent an awful long time exploring how people think and learn and the many varieties of personality types that we are likely to come across in ministry. People are oh so different and as a minister it is vital that I understand this. We were also encouraged to take different personality tests to see which type we were. Of all the different ones that we explored it was the Enneagram that interested me the most.
The Enneagram uncovers nine different personality types, these being the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger and the peacemaker. It has its roots in eastern mysticism and was popularised in the west by George Gudjeff. He believed that everyone has three personal centres, these being located in the head, the heart and the belly. The nine points of the Enneagram are split into this triad. Gudjeff taught that we had to discover how our personalities block us from our true essence.
According to the test I took I am a “Seven”, the “Enthusiast”. “Sevens” are found in the thinking triad. They are constantly planning new adventures and looking out for possible dangers. They are winged by the entertainer and the realist. At their worst, when moving towards their “disintegration” “Sevens” take on the negative characteristics of the perfectionists. However at their best when moving towards their “integration” they become fascinated by the joy and wonder of life, like a healthy “investigator”. “Seven's” yearn for freedom, excitement, enthusiasm and escapism. They do not appear afraid, are talkative, engaging and like to play. Richard Rohr claims that “Seven's” have often experienced trauma in childhood and are ruled by the fear of this pain. In order to cope with this they have evolved a double strategy of repression of negativity and planning of excitement. At their bests the “Sevens” enthusiasm can become infectious and motivates others into action. At their worst sevens are prone to addiction, appear infantile and become depraved, erratic, moody, manic and depressive.
I am definitely a “Seven”. I carried the pain of traumatic events with me for many years and wasted so much of my life trying to avoid these memories and ensuring that nothing similar could happen again. I lived with a heightened sense of danger, while paradoxically being a thrill seeker. Normality never satisfied me. I have struggled with commitment and boredom for most of my life. That said I have often brought out the best in other people and always been engaging and interesting company, full of ideas and information. I have enjoyed some incredible highs in my life and achieved a great deal. I have also over indulged, I became an addict. This led to total collapse a few years ago.
Through Alcoholics Anonymous I have come to terms with the problems within my character, I have overcome my addictive nature and attained sobriety. I have moved towards the best aspects of the “Seven” personality. I have become what Richard Rohr describes as a redeemed “Seven”. I experience sober joy in the simple gifts of life. That said I do know that I have to be aware of the extreme elements of my personality. I have to be particularly vigilant with regards to my tendency to gloss over the darker elements of reality, while still experiencing the joy of living.
Check out the Enneagram you may find the results interesting, You can find a free test here: http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/Tests_Battery.asp
I know the link to this video is tenuous. I included just because it's a great song...enjoy...