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Number Nine

September 22, 2020

“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:4-5

My DMin cohort is doing work with the Enneagram this week. So last night (not for the first time) I took an Enneagram test (specifically, the RHETI). With results that should be shocking to no one, I’m a 9 (9 w 1, for those who are curious). Anyway, this blog post is not going to be a deep dive into the Enneagram. It’s simply to say that my type fits me, so I know it’s right. I’m a peacemaker who wants everyone to love one another, and when that doesn’t happen, I wonder why it’s so hard. I’m also a perfectionist nagged by chronic self-doubt, but that’s just part of the fun of being me!

The peacemaker mindset fits Paul’s proclamation to the Philippians. In a call to harmony and mutual love, Paul makes a “why is it so difficult” argument: Stop looking out for yourselves and start looking out for each other. Things will take care of themselves once you care for one another.

Of course, the reason it’s so hard is sin. So, Paul reminds them they are not on their own or of their own. They have the mind of Christ at work in them now. What follows beginning in verse 6 is a Christ hymn that likely predates this epistle; it’s probably the earliest piece of written Christian scripture. What, according to this most ancient witness, did Jesus do? He emptied himself. Poured himself out for others. Be like him, Paul says.

Beyond simply getting along or avoiding conflict because it’s uncomfortable, this is the work of the gospel. It is the tremendously challenging yet easy-as-grace work to which God calls us. Love one another. Disagree within the context of mutual care. Ask what your neighbor needs before tending to yourself. Let the mind of Jesus be at work in you.

While the Enneagram and other personality assessments provide insight, we don’t need them to remind us of our Lord’s command: Love one another as Jesus has loved us.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Lord God, we praise you for Christ, who did not regard equality with you as something to be grasped but emptied himself on the cross for other. Let us, in our wonderful diversity and difference, live for one another. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: One of my favorite number nines, 2015 World Series champion Drew Butera (used with permission).

From → COVID-19

2 Comments
  1. Susan Messerli permalink

    This is the first time I have heard of the Enneagram. Is it a personality measurement like the old Kudor (sp?) Preference test?

    • Hi Susan! I don’t know the Kudor preference test, but yes, the Enneagram is personality typology tool. Like all such things, it has its limitations and its strengths.

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