As I was reading Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage, I was reminded of a sales call many years ago when I tried to control the conversation and talk “over” the prospect. I mean, I had to tell him about our product, didn’t I, or how would he ever consider it?

Seeing I wasn’t getting through, I recognized his personality type — a man who needed control himself. As soon as I let go and allowed him to dictate the meeting, good things happened. Shortly after, the prospect was a client.

Now comes a much more personal and spiritual application of understanding personality types. Authors Beth and Jeff McCord (she an Enneagram coach and he a pastor and mediator) have been married 24 years and, like most couples, have had their bumps along the way. Beth notes, for example, that early on in her marriage she was so desperate to make others happy, especially Jeff, she lost focus on her own happiness. “Losing myself wasn’t the right answer.” The couple needed help – they needed to better understand each other and how they related to each other.

By using the Enneagram personality type indicator and overlaying it in a solid foundation and belief in the Gospel, they not only have helped themselves but thousands and thousands of others to identify their unique personality types and apply them to their own relationships.

A UNIQUE TAKE ON A POPULAR PERSONALITY TEST

That’s what Becoming Us (Morgan James Publishing) is all about. It describes the story of Beth and Jeff, talks about the Enneagram and learning to discover your type, shows how to use it in identifying your own tendencies in concert with others, and acknowledges a devotion to the Gospel at the root of all harmony. Part 2 of the book is a detailed Enneagram Roadmap that goes into specifics about each of the nine primary personality types — how to identify them, what they mean, how they interact with others, and how they align with the Gospel.

In his foreword, Scott Sauls, pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN, refers to the “sandpaper effect” in marriages, which start with some rough edges but often have a way of smoothing out. “As we all know,” he writes, “the ‘sandpaper effect’ can also backfire, especially for couples lacking in compassion and empathy toward one another’s weaknesses.”

Writes Beth, “While personality tests are fun and informative, and offer some value, most of them focus on external behaviors. Where they fall short is that they don’t give you the tools to transform yourself from the inside out to become the friend, spouse and follower of Christ you long to be.”

The Enneagram, she says, works differently by revealing not what we do but why we do it. If you think of it as seeing the world through colored lenses, “It’s hard to remember that other people aren’t seeing the world through the same colored lenses as you are.”

She continues, “We may think we understand ourselves well … but most people struggle to know or understand why they do what they do. That’s why the Enneagram has been so profound for Jeff and me and impacted us so deeply.”

THE NINE PERSONALITY TYPES

The Enneagram is described as “a nonjudgmental friend who names and addresses the core dynamics of your heart. It invites you on a path of discovery and growth.” Here are the nine primary Enneagram types (understanding that there are no black and whites, and plenty of shades in between):

  • Type 1: The Moral Perfectionist is conscientious, orderly, appropriate, ethical and judgmental.
  • Type 2: The Supportive Advisor is thoughtful, generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing and possessive.
  • Type 3: The Successful Achiever is efficient, accomplished, motivated, driven and image-conscious.
  • Type 4: The Romantic Individualist is authentic, creative, expressive, deep and temperamental.
  • Type 5: The Investigative Thinker is perceptive, insightful, intelligent, detached and isolated.
  • Type 6: The Loyal Guardian is committed, responsible, faithful, suspicious and anxious.
  • Type 7: The Entertaining Optimist is playful, excitable, versatile, scattered and escapist.
  • Type 8: The Protective Challenger is assertive, self-confident, intense, big-hearted and confrontational.
  • Type 9: The Peaceful Mediator is thoughtful, reassuring, respective, accommodating and resigned.

That’s it in the most general sense. You could write a separate book on each.

If you are trying to form a snap opinion on which type fits you, keep in mind it took Jeff five years to make that determination for himself!

Becoming Us is about learning to better communicate with one another. The Enneagram, the authors write, “has been an amazing resource and tool to illuminate our hearts to see if they’re aligned with the Gospel, misaligned to some degree, or out of alignment entirely.”

There will be moments, they hope, when you’ll stop and say to yourself, “Oh, that’s why he (or she) always does that!”

This is a book full of advice and potential for any reader willing to embrace the concepts and let new thinking enter his or her realm. The highly credentialed authors are chock full of information and inspiration, but it is up to the reader to make use of it.

As both Beth and Jeff acknowledge, “‘Becoming us’ hasn’t been easy.”

Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage is now available for purchase. Learn more about Jeff and Beth McCord on their BookTrib author page.

Beth McCord is the founder and lead content creator of Your Enneagram Coach, a certified Enneagram coach, and has been using the Enneagram in ministry since 2002.

Jeff McCord is Executive Director of Your Enneagram Coach, a certified Enneagram coach, a certified conciliator with the Institute of Christian Conciliation, and a practicing Family Mediator. He also has served as pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America congregation for 20 years.

The McCords live in Franklin, TN.