We are all ever so much more than what we do.

Enneagram Three: You Are More than What You Can Do

Oblivious to the hum of classroom activity, I turned page after page as silent reading time flew by. In the fifth grade, I was riveted to the story arc of Helen Keller’s life. Only just barely old enough to fathom the complexity of getting an education without sight or hearing, my laser focus had found a heroine in this woman who overcame adversity to graduate at the top of her class and then go on to college.

“I want to do that,” I thought to myself.
So I did.
And that goal-setting, accomplishment-oriented part of me still wakes up every single morning with a plan in place.

The Challenges and Joys of Enneagram Three

Enneagram Threes are the achievers, the performers, the image-conscious do-ers who are driven and defined by our lists and our need to appear successful. “Threes are shape shifters who can switch personas to match the environment,” say Cron and Stabile. On my first reading of the characteristics of all nine Enneagram types, my initial response to each was, “Yes, I am that way… sometimes.”  In unhealthy space, this can lead to the behavior of a social chameleon, inauthentic and empty. Healthy Threes, though, employ this sensitivity to understand and to advance the goals and pursuits of others.

What’s the Enneagram?

I googled the term the first time I heard it, not even sure how to pronounce it.

Enneagram:  “Any – a – gram”

Named for a nine-sided polygon, the Enneagram distinguishes and describes nine facets of the human personality, nine different ways of being, nine unique manifestations of the image of God on this planet.

I am a Three, which comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a simple visual representation to get you started if this is a new concept to you:


Join me today over at Mary Geisen’s place for #TellHisStory where it’s my turn to tell about life inside the Enneagram Three’s world. I’ve been brutally honest, but am also holding out the hope that all nine spaces on the Enneagram need to hear:

The worst part of us can also become the best part of us as we grow into gospel truth that, yes, indeed, it is true: we have not done enough.
And we never will.
But we are more than the sum of our successes.
We are loved by the God who made us and who knows the person behind the image, the heart behind the goals, and who gave his life to communicate the healing message that we are ever so much more than what we do.

Still under construction,

michele signature[1]

Have you identified your Enneagram number? If not, you’ll be helped by the series of posts written from inside the skin of all nine numbers. Click here for the overview, and here for Mary’s post on life as a Two. Posts will continue weekly until we’ve covered all nine personality types, and Mary has gathered an inspiring tribe of writers and thinkers to guide you on this Enneagram journey. Whether you’re still pondering, or if you’ve identified your number and are looking for ways to move toward health within it, you’ll find plenty of help with this series.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

26 thoughts on “Enneagram Three: You Are More than What You Can Do”

  1. I was in my 40s when I discovered Dr. Dawna Markova’s book – Art of the Possible – and found my ‘learning’ descriptor as a KVA – kinesthetic, visual, auditory. Then, in my 60s I took the Briggs Meyer test and found I am an INTJ – one of the rare combinations. I wasn’t shocked, I’ve always been an outlier. So many things suddenly made sense though. So, at your suggestion I looked into the Enneagram and discovered that I am a 4.5. Somewhere in the middle between a 4 and a 5. Not shocked, once again. LOL! I am not able to do or be ‘normal’ I guess.

    Thing is, God made us who and how we are, all we have to do is step up to be used as He appoints. I love that we are uniquely made even as we are definable. When I found out I was INTJ I was glad to know it’a not a common combination but also relieved to know I do belonged somewhere, somehow. 🙂


    1. I’ve taken the MB test a couple of times and once I came out as an ENTJ and the second time as an INTJ (I can’t figure out how I feel about people, I guess!), so we’re probably a bit alike. That is also no surprise to me. What would be interesting to know at some point is whether you are a 4 with a 5 wing or a 5 with a 4 wing.
      No question, thought, that you were designed, in love, by an Expert!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How interesting to read this, Michele… I learn more about you as I read what you write. Thanks for being a friend to me when times have been tough… you definitely are a 3 who has learned the grace of love for others in such beautiful measure.


    1. One of my favorite features of the Enneagram is the compassionate stance it encourages me to take–with myself and others.
      And I consider our “friendship” across the miles to be one of God’s gifts, meant to stretch both of us in our understanding that there are SO many ways to image forth the glory of God as a believing woman.
      Grateful for you.


  3. I recently watched a Doreen Virtue video and she has a clip of Claudio Naranjo saying in an interview that he got the wording of the 9 types he used to explain the enneagram from automatic writing.

    Marcia Montenegro has also done a lot of research into where the enneagram came from and has several articles and video interviews about this. Christian Answers for the New Age has a great article on it.

    Richard Rohr has heretical views of Christ. Gurdjieff influenced New Age teachings. The enneagram has no basis in psychological studies or research. It is entirely subjective and arbitrary.

    The enneagram is part of Sacred Geometry, which is very similar to occultic divination, which the Bible tells us to stay away from. I hope you take time to read and listen to what people who have come out of the New Age mvmt have to say about relying on the enneagram.

    The danger? People see themselves through the lens of the enneagram instead of through the Holy Spirit’s leading while studying the Bible. I hope you prayerfully ask God to lead you to the truth.

    I hope I don’t sound harsh, because I’m writing this with compassion. We bought several enneagram books, too. But after hearing Doreen’s interview, seeing the Naranjo clip, and reading many articles about the other teachings of the writers of these books, we threw them away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear, I appreciate your posting this. It is a sobering reminder that no matter how spiritually mature we believe ourselves to be, we are still vulnerable to being duped and sucked into diversions that seem, on the surface, harmless. Satan is desperate, having pulled out all stops, questing for ways to fray us, to pull out threads to weaken the fabric of our faith.

      I’ve been here before more than once and I am ashamed to say that I wasn’t as brave to call out the heresy for fear of seeming harsh and offending those I care about. I reasoned that it was no big deal that loved ones found inspiration in the wrong place.

      But I am here to say, it does matter and those of us who claim to belong to the Body of Christ, are responsible and accountable to and for each other.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Janine, you don’t sound harsh, and I appreciate your concern. I would agree with you that “relying on” the Ennegram or any other manmade construct is a path away from truth. Sadly, our prone-to-wander hearts have a way of taking ANY of God’s good gifts and turning them into an ultimate thing–something God never designed them to be.
      So, it’s no surprise to me to learn that folks have done the same with a personality inventory. So very sad.
      Thank you for bring this to my attention. I hope readers will take it under advisement as a cautionary measure.


  4. More than the sum of my successes….it took me many years to realize this. It is true for all of us! Being present, a good person, and so many other qualities is enough. I think our society conditions us to “need” more. Thank you for linking up.


  5. I am not familiar with Enneagrams, but I’m intrigued. I’m going to read further as you suggested. I do like the reminder that we are more than our successes or what we can do. I have always been very goal oriented and love checking things off the to-do list, but I’ve been on a journey of late to be more present in the moment and appreciate life’s little pleasures. Good luck on your journey of discovery!


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