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Thursday, January 15, 2009
On one of my recent course weekends we were asked to complete a personality profile test called an Enneagram. I hoped that it would identify my natural characteristics and enable me to connect my personality with my current spiritual behaviour. One of the things I continually beat myself up about is that I don't always find private prayer easy to relax into. Knowing more about my personality could help to develop my spirituality, once I knew what kinds of prayer suited my type. Learning about myself and the personality types of others would also enable me to be watchful of my reactions towards others spiritually, pastorally and socially.
The sessions explained that we have one, over-riding energy which determines our behaviour. This can be our greatest attribute and our biggest failing. It affects our outlook, prayer life, preferences and relationships. As a Type Two(helper), I learned that the need to be needed could be both positive and negative. When a ‘helper’ is at a healthy level then words such as ‘compassionate’, ‘generous’ and ‘loving’ are used. These are all qualities I would like to have and would want to see in any Christian. However; ‘manipulative’, ‘domineering’ and ‘belittling’ are used as unhealthy characteristics; disastrous qualities for an ordained minister to exhibit! Sadly, I know that all of these behaviours are possibilities for me. Therefore the Enneagram has acted as a warning as well as an encouragement.
The session relating personality types to prayer gave me a deeper insight into my own struggles and came as a bit of a relief. Because 'Helpers' are naturally busy people who enjoy being with others. I am also an extrovert which increases this need. They gain energy from interaction and so sitting quietly just resting in God can seem very unnatural. It can be done however, if we understand how our personality can be encouraged to be more reflective. Using visual aids to focus upon and let go of the worls around can be the key for my personality type. Over the past year I have tried using candles and other visuals to concentrate my mind and have begun to find just existing in God’s presence beneficial and uplifting.
The sessions helped me to be aware that I need times of silence as repose from the busyness of life and to connect the two, listening for God’s voice in response to my worries, fears and problems.