Is The Enneagram Useful for Christians? Tyler Zach, Pastor, Author & Type 3 (Pt. 1)

Introduction

Today we are going to be talking to Tyler Zach, who I have become friends with through social media, and I am just so excited that you’re here. You have so many important things to share, and I want to make sure that we get into that, but first, what is your Enneagram type, and how do you most like to help people?

It’s great to be on your show, Kim, I have been big fan. So I am a three wing four, and in kindergarten I got “Entertainer of the Year” so I was a three from very early on! One of the things I love about being a three is that ability to read the room and know how people need to be encouraged in the moment. I also just love calling out greatness in people, and contextualizing the gospel; making it relevant for others. Those are just a couple of reasons why I love being a three.

Now, what do you do in your day to day? What pays your bills?

I am a pastor. I originally did campus ministry for about nine years with CRU Campus Crusade, and primarily worked with fraternity and sorority students. I then went down to K State for a couple of years and was the campus director there, and then got invited by my friend, Gavin, to be a church planter. So I just kind of moved into a pastoral position here in Omaha, Nebraska, and was on staff, growing that church, and then went on to plant a church in 2015, which is kind of a fun story!

In 2019 we actually merged with a multi-ethnic church, and so I actually co-lead the church with my friend Jameson, who’s a type eight. So we got a three and eight co-lead combination there. 

Assertive, sharing some traits, maybe not sharing some other traits; that, could be really interesting!

Well, thank you! Thank you for introducing yourself a little bit and helping us get to know you. 

Most EnneaMe Thing

One fun thing that we’ve started doing to also help us get to know our guests a little bit more is to share a Most EnneaMe Thing that’s happened to you. Some people choose something that’s recent, some people choose Most EnneaMe Thing of all time. So I’ll let that be your choice! What is the Most EnneaMe Thing for you? 

There’s multiple things I could pick, like the kindergarten story, but I think I’d go back to my fraternity days in college. You know how threes like to be chameleons and sort of shapeshift, and turn the color of whatever group they’re part of; and so when I joined my fraternity, I went all out: I wore the fraternity shirt all the time, ended up being the president of the fraternity, got my license plates that said SIG Up on it; everything was SIG Up. I became the poster child for SIG Up! I had the blonde frosted tips, the hoop earrings, the Pooka shell necklace, the visor…

My first semester in the fraternity, I took a leadership position as a treasurer and raised funds for our end-of-the-year formal. I didn’t know that they actually selected a fundraising amount that was much higher than usual, thinking that we weren’t going to attain it, but I thought, “I can’t fail! I need to raise up this amount of funds as the treasurer.”

As I was getting near the end of the semester, I was like, failure’s not an option; I need to raise the full amount. So I was going in and giving plasma to raise money to get to that goal so I would not fail! They were pretty impressed with me by the end of this semester, that I raised up all all the funds! And we had a great formal.

So, so literally like giving away part of your body to avoid failure. Wow. Okay. Yeah. I can see that as a Most EnneaMe Thing. Amazing, thank you so much for sharing.

I found that having a little bit of humor with it, laughing at ourselves, helps alleviate some of the difficulty of looking at our Enneagram type, and I think it has a lot of good things when we can have a little humor in how we view ourselves through the framework of the Enneagram. So thank you for helping us get to know you a little bit.

How Tyler Found the Enneagram

How did you find the Enneagram, and what was your first impression of it? What did you think about it?

I learned about the Enneagram from a friend when I was scrolling through a church booklet of his and saw the Enneagram in it. He kind of explained that the church was going through it with their leaders, and I decided I wanted to look into it.

I literally Googled “gospel Enneagram” on YouTube, because I was just wanting to know who was using it while also teaching it from a Christian perspective, and I came across John Fusha who was running Gospel Enneagram and has a company called People Launching. So I became friends with him, and he was my coach; I went through his certification track to get certified as an Enneagram coach, and so that’s just kind of a quick overview of how I got into it. 

Using the Enneagram as a Pastor

As a pastor, I imagine that you spend a good amount of your working time walking through hard moments with people, really meeting them where they’re at and showing love to them in a way that edifies and helps point them towards truth. How has the Enneagram helped you in your role as a pastor? 

There are several things:

  • I think it’s made me people-smart as a pastor; as a three, I’m good at getting stuff done, goal setting, and all that. We can inspire hope in people from stage, and inspire and align, but when it comes to the dark realities that people find themselves in, I would often sit across from somebody grieving or going through a hard situation and not know what to do. The Enneagram helped me to become people smart and has given me handles for knowing where and how to navigate people’s hearts, what they’re going through and how they’re processing.
  • It’s helped me help my other staff members in their personal lives. Pastor Elvin, who is a type seven, is on our staff too, and we share an office. He is one of the most humorous guys I know, and actually does stand up comedy on the side! Well, he has a type four teenager that he’s raising right now, and she processes the world very differently than he does: he is uber optimistic, sees the bright side of everything; and she is processing dark emotions and gets disillusioned with the church and what she’s going through as a teenager. So the Enneagram has helped me to walk him through where she’s coming from, and give him some ideas of how to help her as a dad.
  • The Enneagram also comes up on a daily basis, it seems like, in our office, helping each other navigate where we’re all coming from. I’m kind of the office mediator to help through conflict and struggles, because I know where people are coming from and oftentimes why they are feeling what they are feeling. It’s been a huge blessing just to help with team conflict and team dynamics. 
  • I’ve also used the Enneagram in premarital counseling. I just had a couple, just a few months ago, that turned out to be the same pairing as my wife and I, a three and a six! And so even in our first counseling session, I was able to help them in a very significant way just because I knew their Enneagram type.

You mentioned being people smart; I think type threes are often automatically people smart, but more about people’s expectations of them, being able to feel the room, know what’s going on and, and how they should “show up.” How would you define the difference between this kind of “people smart” and being able to authentically connect with others?  

As a three, I know I can feel and sense what people need or want to hear, and I can operate out of being the friendly pastor that knows exactly what people need to hear, versus the pastor who is people smart: understanding why they are feeling the way they do, or maybe some of their idols or defense mechanisms going on, and then having to speak truth into their life even if I know it’s going to cause them to be disappointed in me.

Oftentimes threes love through doing, so we see people and we can pick up on things they may need or want, and love by doing.

When I say people smart through the Enneagram, I mean being able to see them “in color”: see their problem or situation and navigate things differently than we would normally do. If threes don’t do the work of understanding their emotions, their competency and their capabilities will be years ahead of where they’re at emotionally.

Emotions are not aerodynamic; they slow us down. So threes oftentimes take our emotions and put them on a bookshelf and don’t come back to them, and therefore we are not emotionally mature unless we do the work.

As a pastor, yeah, you can see what people need and what they’re going through, but if you’re not emotionally mature, you’re not going to be able to understand or know how to help them navigate through their emotions. You might help them to have hope and look to God and sort of move on and have hope for the future, but you won’t be able to do that deep work that they need.  

I’m a pastor’s kid myself, so I’ve seen the deep importance of pastors seeing their own blind spots and shoring up support, not just in their personal lives, but in their professional lives and; making sure that they don’t remove who they are from the equation of pastoring and ministry. 

I’d love to know how that has helped you, being able to see your own blind spots, or being able to know what kind of support you might be avoiding or might need, especially because of the Enneagram. What has it been like for you as a type three, in seeking or understanding that need for support?

  • As a three wing four pastor, it’s really brought clarity on why I feel insecure and phony so much: My three makes me want to impress people and look like I have it all together on stage, but then my four wing, after I preach, will criticize me for not being authentic enough! My  4 wing beats me up because I can’t be fully authentic from stage; I try my best to be there with the people rather than a distant three pastor that they can’t relate to, but I oftentimes do feel that imposter syndrome, and one of my blind spots is that I tend to beat myself up quite a bit. If people criticize me as a pastor, I typically take that in and want to beat myself up before other people get the chance to beat me up.
  • There have been so many times that I have wanted to just throw in the towel in ministry and it has shown me that blind spot of wanting to beat myself up, and helped me to grow thicker skin, and find my identity not in what people say or think of me, but in God; to find my footing and foundation in Him.
  • I think another blind spot is that I just felt more humble than other people before the Enneagram. I think twos, threes and fours can fall into false humility because, you know, we aren’t like those “arrogant eights” or “overconfident sevens.” And, you know, twos and threes are so optimistic and faith-filled, unlike those “pessimistic sixes” or, you know, we aren’t as critical as those ones. And so it’s easy to have pride even if we’re not outwardly prideful! The Enneagram has led me on a path towards true humility.
  • I would also say it’s given me more empathy towards the people that I used to judge. For example, I don’t have that gut reaction anymore that I used to when I would misread an eight’s confidence as arrogance. I’m also not intimidated by strong eights anymore and their strong emotions or power. Now I so value eights!
  • Some pastors, unfortunately, have a reputation for putting ministry above family, and as a 3 wing 4, we can be one of the most workaholic combinations on the entire Enneagram! It’s helped me to see why I want to work so hard; why I want to look so good. It’s because my default is that I feel like I don’t have any value in and of myself. I don’t have overconfidence; I have a lack of confidence. Therefore, I have to work hard, have to strive in order to be a somebody; to prove myself; to hear those affirming words from people that I long to hear. So the Enneagram has showed me some of those inner motivations there.
  • The Enneagram has also helped me to be a better husband, by viewing my dear wife, Lindsay, not as a pessimist, but as a protector; the Enneagram has challenged me in how I view her. I honestly thought of myself as more spiritual than her because of the hope that I carried as a three, and when I saw her going through the worst case scenarios and all that, I just thought that was a lack of faith. I don’t see it that way anymore, so it’s changed my perspective of my wife, and helped change my marriage.

One of the themes other guests have brought up is this empathy that the Enneagram can bring, but it’s also this empathetic mirror to ourselves that that shows us where we might need some help.

I think you touched on that about yourself, as a pastor or just as a person, but also in your relationships; how you’re able to view the wholeness of other people and accept the wholeness of yourself and not give any justifications or excuses, but also not belittle others or yourself. That’s one of the themes I’ve seen from people who have done the Enneagram work and have really studied and learned about themselves and studied and learned about other people and how they view the world.

I just need to know, would you recommend the Enneagram as a tool to other pastors? 

Oh, for sure. I’m going to keep recommending it. We’ve just got to get over that hurdle of “the origins” and make sure that we can be confident in using it not even just for the congregations, not even for premarital counseling, but even for us as pastors. 

We know the Bible inside and out as pastors, but there are so many ministry leaders that lack self-awareness; we have so much God-awareness, Bible-awareness, but low self-awareness and that influences and permeates churches and church culture. I think, just in terms of the leaders, we would be a more healthy church if we utilized the insights of the Enneagram.


That is part one of my conversation with pastor Tyler Zack. He’ll be back on next week to continue our conversation and get deeper into some of his research: into the origins of the Enneagram, and his line of type-specific devotionals. We will see you then!

Tyler is currently writing 40-day Christian devotionals for every Enneagram type. Published books include Type 1, 3, 4, 6, and 9: Check them out on Amazon.

Tyler started an Instagram account @GospelForEnneagram which has grown to over 23,000 followers. You can get lots of free Enneagram faith-related content there. He’s also on Facebook @gospelforenneagram and Twitter @gospelforgram.

Because some Christians are skeptical of using the Enneagram, Tyler’s written a PDF resource called “Should Christians Use The Enneagram?” which you can download for free on his website www.gospelforenneagram.com

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Email Tyler- tyler@gospelforenneagram.com

Website- gospelforenneagram.com

Follow Tyler on Instagram || @gospelforenneagram

Follow Tyler on Facebook || @gospelforenneagram

Follow Tyler on Twitter || @gospelforgram

Follow Kim on Instagram || @christianenneagram.coach

Get the Book || Enneagram For Beginners

Learn On-Demand + Get Coaching || Enneagram 101 Course

Visit the Shop || Christian Enneagram Shop

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