Enneagram 8: Challenging Self and Others During COVID-19

Enneagram 8’s Under Stress

Healthy Enneagram 8 (summarized from The Road Back to You by Suzanne Stabile): A friend and leader with stamina and an instinct for using power in the right way and at the right time.

Unhealthy Enneagram 8: Steamrolls others in an attempt to achieve an either/or outcome, often becoming impatient with others’ indecisiveness.

Healthy Stress Move to 5: In healthy stress, an Enneagram 8 can observe and patiently choose when to act on the stress she or he is experiencing. Staying in a healthy space may mean she chooses not to act at all.

Unhealthy Stress Move to 5: Unable to process the stress, an unhealthy move to the Enneagram 5 may look like near total withdrawal into their head, hyper-vigilant without taking action.

Enneagram 8’s and Grief: Grief is especially hard for 8’s because it requires being still with the vulnerability of knowing you can’t change all of the outcomes.

Enneagram 8 and Church Leadership

We need healthy 8’s right now. With everyone under a unique stress, we need men and women unafraid to ask hard questions and make tough decisions. When is it right to wait and see what comes of a post-COVID society? When is it right to act swiftly and decisively without running over and past others?

In a culture that has rewarded clergy for their healthy and unhealthy aggressiveness, the temptation for the organization is to anxiously look to their aggressive leader in hopes of maintaining a sense of normalcy and safety. Churches find themselves asking, “What do we do? What’s going to happen?”

A key example of this is the new kinds of stress created on church leadership through the rapid shift of in-person gatherings to virtual gatherings. The assumption by many churches has been that we must make our virtual weekly gathering feel familiar. From what place in the heart did that decision come? Have you been still enough to know the answer to that question?

On the other hand, new needs have suddenly appeared that need rapid responses. Widows living alone need consistent contact with the outside world; they may need to have food. Suddenly unemployed members need to know who they can go, in case their savings run out. These need thoughtfulness, but they do not need delay.

The sudden and dramatic changes to church culture brought on by COVID-19 may require action; they definitely require stillness. Here are a few questions for an Enneagram 8 to be still with during shelter-at-home.

Am I, in making quick decisions, preventing others from grieving in their own unique way? Are my actions preventing me from grieving as I need to?

Have I begun to withdraw rather than engage? Do I find myself with fewer people I trust right now? What might that suggest about the level of burnout I was experiencing before COVID-19?

What can I lead others to let go of during the COVID-19 pandemic? What do I need to let go of during the pandemic? What might need to die during this season rather than working furiously to keep it alive?

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