The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system that has experienced a new wave of popularity the past few years and some have found to be a tool for personal, emotional, and spiritual growth.
The Enneagram has nine distinct personality types, each of which include maturity and development levels, core struggles and desires, mixtures with other types (“wings”), emotional centers, and how each number morphs because of stress or security.
Though there are many books that could speak to the nuances of each number, I chose a few Christian non-fiction titles that relate to core struggles, desires, and strengths of each number and share how each number can grow by reading each book.
Type 1: The Reformer*
The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
Ones, often called “The Perfectionist,” are constantly striving for perfection and holding themselves and others to a nearly-impossible standard. Sadly, they often end up feeling resentful, distracted, and disconnected. In Present Over Perfect, Shauna walks readers through her own journey of moving from frantic and tired to connected and free. This book can show Ones that it is actually things like connection and meaning that provide true peace and happiness, not busyness and the constant pursuit of perfection.
It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst
Because of their strong sense of right and wrong, Ones are easily discouraged and frustrated when people or things don’t meet their expectations. In It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa chronicles her journey of discovering that whether we’re dealing with daily disappointments or life-altering loss, we can find unexpected strength as we wrestle well between our faith and feelings. This book can help Ones stop being pulled into the anxiety of disappointment and the frustration they often experience, and discover how to better process their unmet expectations of life.
Type 2: The Helper
The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
Twos often get caught up in helping people, doing good, and taking care of others. But if they’re not careful, they exhaust themselves, and their well-intentioned acts of service become people pleasing and manipulative. Because Twos can likely relate more to Martha than Mary in the biblical story, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World helps Twos put aside their constant service to others and “need to be needed” and simply enjoy sitting at Jesus’ feet, blending their service to Him with intimacy with Him.
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Twos struggle to say “no” to helping people and have a tendency to become over-involved in the lives of others. The authors argue that boundaries actually bring new health to relationships, which can help Twos understand that it is possible to be loving and set healthy boundaries for themselves. Understanding this truth can set Twos free to walk as the loving, giving, fulfilled individuals God created them to be.
Type 3: The Achiever or Performer
The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard by Jennie Allen
Threes are highly driven for achievement and often find their self-worth in what they do, not in who they are. Nothing to Prove can help Threes find freedom from self-induced pressure by admitting that nothing they do or achieve will truly be enough—but Jesus is. Understanding that truth leads to true contentment and joy will satisfy more than the temporary joy from success and achievement.
Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg
Threes often get so caught up in completing their to-do lists and achieving whatever it is they believe will make them valuable that they become isolated and push down their feelings. Soul Keeping can help Threes reconnect with and care for their souls—the most important connection to God there is—and give attention to the part of themselves they most often neglect.
Type 4: The Individualist (or Romantic)
The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
Fours often feel they are defective, like they are missing some key to success that everyone else has. They struggle with self-image and become hyper focused on what they don’t have. One Thousand Gifts speaks directly to this core struggle by encouraging Fours to open their eyes to the many blessings around them and introduces a way of becoming present to God that brings deep and lasting joy.
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In maturity, Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved, but in their insecurities they withhold themselves from community because they feel defective. Life Together, Bonhoeffer’s classic work on the importance of spiritual community, can remind Fours of their need to fellowship with others and how that community can truly provide the nourishment and acceptance they seek.
Type 5: The Investigator
The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
As cerebrals, fives are always investigating, asking questions, and seeking knowledge. However, in their quest for understanding, they often ignore their emotional health and true feelings. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality outlines Scazzero’s journey to understanding the importance of emotional maturity in discipleship. This book can help Fives understand that they can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature and give them practical steps to understanding and caring for their emotions.
Fives have a great ability to focus and concentrate on dissecting complex ideas and skills, but in their intense concentration, can isolate themselves from others. Though the idea of inviting people in (both into their home and their inner self) may scare Fives, this book can help them pursue a Kingdom purpose by doing something they wouldn’t normally be comfortable with.
Type 6: The Loyalist
The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious
The core struggle of Sixes is fear, which is connected to their need for security. Afraid of All the Things speaks to all kinds of fears, from Scarlet’s “irrational ones” like sinkholes in the Target parking lot, to big ones, like losing those you love. This book can show Sixes how to hold the Gospel up to their fears and process them in a healthy (and sometimes humorous) way, so they don’t have to be afraid of all the things.
Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado
As Sixes are no stranger to fear and anxiety, Lucado’s study of Philippians 4:6-7 in Anxious For Nothing couldn’t be more relevant. Sixes can’t help but think about what could go wrong and are always imagining and planning for worst-case scenarios. Anxious for Nothing can help Sixes learn to view bad news through the lens of God’s sovereignty, to discern the lies of Satan, and tell themselves the truth.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper
Sevens are future-oriented and always on the hunt for happiness and joy, though sometimes their pursuit of pleasure can become obsessive. Piper’s thesis in Desiring God is that the pursuit of pleasure in God (“Christian hedonism”) is not only permissible, it’s essential. This is something that will resonate deeply with Sevens and help them realize they don’t have to choose between duty and delight in the Christian life.
Sevens constantly seek happiness, excitement, whimsy, and spontaneity wherever they can find it. In Love Does, Bob Goff (also a Seven) tells extravagant, random, sometimes hilarious, and meaningful stories of modeling Jesus’ love on a daily basis. Bob’s stories can show Sevens how to channel their near-endless energy and enthusiasm into meaningful connection and service to others.
Type 8: The Challenger
The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
Eights are strong-willed, self-confident, and assertive, yet often resist those that have control over them or are more powerful. The Holiness of God deals with the strength and power of God, with which Eights can identify, while also setting them into view of who they are in light of God’s power and holiness.
Humility: The Journey Towards Holiness by Andrew Murray
Humility is a hard characteristic for any Type to cultivate, but particularly for Eights, whose key motivation is to prove their strength, assert themselves, and dominate the challenges presented to them. Humility can give Eights a concrete, perfect example of humility to study—Jesus Himself— which will help them empty themselves and be filled with His grace.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent
Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable, but in their desire to keep the peace can become complacent and slothful. Nines aren’t always lazy, sometimes they just need an extra push to get started. Thus, Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life can offer Nines practical suggestions for beginning, cultivating, and maintaining important spiritual disciplines necessary for spiritual maturity.
Nines seek harmony and are usually willing to go along with others (even if they disagree) to keep the peace. Love Lives Here describes how Maria learned to thrive where God called her, and live with intentionality, purpose, and love, though it looks different for her than her husband Bob. Nines will identify with Maria’s acknowledgement that she doesn’t have the energy level or personality of her husband Bob. She shows g that love looks more like cultivating a peaceful home, loving her neighbors, and creating space for her family to thrive (not performing random, extravagant acts of kindness as Bob describes in Love Does).
*Descriptions for each number are taken from The Enneagram Institute and The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.