University Congregational Church
Aug. 12, 2018
I John 4:16, 18-19
We’re going to take a short break from the festivities of Sports Sunday to continue our discussion of the spiritual tool called the Enneagram. All summer, we have been discovering what the enneagram has to teach us about ourselves. This is an ancient personality typing system that helps us understand our fears, growth areas, our motivations, and how we are led to or blocked from God. There are nine personality types and so far we have covered five of them.
Today, we’re looking at type #6. Experts say that Six is the most commonly found personality type. It has been called the “loyalist”, the “Devil’s Advocate”, the “Questioner”, and the “Skeptic”.
People who belong to type Six have tremendous gifts – they are cooperative, team players, reliable. In relationships, one can count on their fidelity. Their friendships are marked by warm-hearted and deep feelings. They are often highly original and witty and sometimes they have a grotesque sense of humor. They do their utmost- body and soul – for the people they love.
Sixes easily succumb to self-doubt. That makes them look ahead, fearful and mistrustful. They continually sense danger. Some Sixes report that they couldn’t develop deep trust because they had uncontrolled, unpredictable, violent or cold parents. As kids they either had to look for a protector to trust or learn to detect very slight signs of possible danger so they could be prepared should something happen.
Many Sixes have a hard time accepting praise. They suspect that there is something underneath the praise which will actually be detrimental to them. This is because Sixes constantly envision what could go wrong. They question almost everything and plan for the worst-case scenario. They can be overly focused on authority, which often leads them to a focus on education, government, law enforcement, and social service organizations.
In 1999, a book was published called the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook. It provided humorous instructions about what to do in unusual but dire circumstances. There were chapters on:
• How to perform a tracheotomy
• How to identify a bomb
• How to land a plane
• How to survive if your parachute doesn’t open
• How to deal with a charging bull
• How to escape from killer bees!
It sold 10 million copies – mostly to type Sixes on the enneagram!
That’s because Sixes see a dangerous world in which disaster can strike at any moment. Appearances are deceiving. People have hidden agendas. In order to maintain a sense of safety, control and certainty, Sixes plan for the worst.
They are also the most faithful, dependable people on the enneagram. They are the glue that holds the world together. They are reliable, warm, funny, and self-sacrificing people who make up more than half the world’s population. Sixes need to feel secure and appreciate order, plans, and rules. They like the comfort and predictability that clear laws and guidelines offer.
It may take time, but one a Six trusts you, they’re with you for life. They have a remarkable ability to bond people together because they believe in family, home, raising responsible children, and marriage. They are sharp, analytically minded troubleshooters. They could be called Loyal Skeptics.
A Six often rides in the car when I’m driving. He reminds me not to follow people who have a load of things on the back – because those things are often not properly tied down. He talks to the drivers ahead of us if they move a little out of their lane – because they are obviously drunk or texting. He has a GPS in the car – not so much for directions – but because they always show the speed limit and the rate of speed one is driving. He will go a long way out of his way to avoid dirt roads or hazardous conditions.
This same Six still possesses a small booklet in which he recorded every payment he made to his parents for a car loan… in 1978! His parents have been dead more than a decade.
Because Sixes are conscientious, they tend to take on too much work, which leaves them stressed out, resentful, and pessimistic. And because they over-analyze things for too long without taking action, they can suffer from analysis paralysis. To them, thinking and doing are the same thing. If you ask them what they’ve done they may not be able to show a single physical thing – but they’ve been working on it in their minds.
Sixes are symbolized by the loyal, obedient German shepherd. The symbolic color of Sixes is beige. It doesn’t strike the eye or shine on its own. It fits in with the environment, but protects from danger.
The spiritual work for a Six is learning to break free from external direction and take responsibility for their lives and their feelings. Most of all, they have to look fear in the eye and call it by name. This reminds me of a very important Biblical text which reminds us that fear and love cannot co-exist.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because God first loved us. I John 4:16, 18-19
Can you think of the last time you were afraid? Were you in an accident? Did you worry that you had lost your child/ grandchild? Did you see a huge spider or worry about being out of breath? Did you hear a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one? Did you read the news? Sometimes fear is momentary and fleeting – other times it is all too real and lasting.
In her book Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes a letter to fear. Here it is slightly edited:
Love and I are about to go on a road trip. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do. But I will also be doing my job, which is to work hard, stay focused, and build relationships. Love will be doing its job, which is to grow and connect and ground individuals, families, churches, communities.
There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, but understand this: Love and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. You’re not allowed to suggest detours. You’re not allowed to hold the maps or fiddle with the temperature. You’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, you, fear, are absolutely forbidden to drive.
Cron, Ian Morgan and Stabile, Suzanne. “The Road Back to You; An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery.” InterVarsity Press. 2016.
Heuertz, Christopher L. “The Sacred Enneagram; Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth.” Zondervan. 2017
Rohr, Richard. “Discovering the Enneagram; An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey.” Crossroad. 1992.
www.kirkofbonniebrae.org. “Fearfully Loyal. #6 on the Enneagram”. August 13, 2017