How a Type 9 on the Enneagram experiences your church and how to connect them
If you have three children like I do, you have had the concern for the emotional landscape of your child in the middle. My so-called “middle child” is Kendra. She is now 24.
Kendra was wedged in the birth order between two big personalities. Her older brother Chase is a 7 wing 6 and can absorb most of the attention in any room he walks into with his ridiculous sense of humor. Her little sister Carly (who I wrote about in the post about Fives at your church) was determined to not be left out of anything her siblings where experiencing, especially if it involved her mother.
The pleasant surprise? Kendra never clamored for the attention that her baby sister required or that Chase seemed to attract. She was content being in the background and loved helping create structure for the other two as they “did their thang”.
Kendra grew up helping organize our family nights, going to chef school, and as an adult planning menus and cooking wonderful meals in our home. She loves creating moments and organizing trips for friends whether traveling abroad or over coffee. As an Art Education Major, she leads workshops on calligraphy and watercolor at wineries and boutiques. She continually suggests fun activities that could be on the calendar “once a month” or “annually”. She is kind, funny, loves to serve others, and is slow to advocate for herself or to say anything bad about someone else.
Oh, and about every four months, she reorganizes the garage and rearranges her room.
Why? Because Kendra is a 9 and I could not be more grateful.
How a Type Nine sees their world
A Nine (known as The Peacemaker), see the world as a potentially chaotic place where conflict can easily erupt between otherwise good people.
That’s why Nines are known to…
Wear a Cloak of invisibility. Harry Potter is not the only person who possess one. Nines come equipped with one and would prefer to wear it whenever there is conflict and wherever there is someone who enjoys taking the stage.
Take the other side. Nines are known as the “devil’s advocates”, largely due to their desire for people to live at peace with each other. If someone is angry with a particular person, they will instinctively find the upside of that person in an effort to smooth the tension. As you can imagine, that doesn’t always work.
Express their anger through stubbornness. You may remember from the chart on my post on Threes that Nines are surprisingly part of the Anger Triad of the enneagram. Where Eights will express their anger aggressively and Ones express it resentfully, Nines will express it passively through a stubbornness that is unparalleled in any other Type. While agreeing with your input to avoid conflict with you, they will inwardly dig in their heels and remain anchored in their position.
Be optimistic and trusting. In an effort to continually make peace, Nines see the silver lining in every cloud, the upside to every situation, and the best side of even the most negative person. They will explain away (or try to get your help in brainstorming) why and how a person could possibly do/say what they do. All this is an effort to understand them and potentially remove the barb of open conflict in the relationship.
Are out of touch with their emotions. Living outside of their emotions is what helps them keep a peaceful equilibrium both inside and outside themselves. As a result, Nines join Threes in being the last to know how they are doing emotionally. It doesn’t mean that they are flat or expressionless. They can be extremely excited, passionate, or indignant. Just not in ways that will risk dissolving peace between themselves and others.
Create order and contentment wherever they go. Nines have little to no tolerance for confusion or for a vacuum. They will fill the vacuum almost immediately by creating a plan, cleaning up a mess, or charting a new course. They enjoying meaningful routines and do not like changing their way of doing things. This makes them the Type most known for loving the outdoors-embracing the peace, order, consistency, beauty and focus it brings.
So how does all this make a Nine feel when they walk into your church this weekend?
How a Nine experiences your church
Nines see your church as an invitation. As people who are prone to the comfort of the back seat, they can be either touched by an invitation to sit in the front seat or intimidated. Nines are people who value their anonymity, but also hope for a comfortable and familiar connection when they experience a church. They inwardly hope to be included, but not in a way that risked upsetting anyones apple cart. They do not usually initiate their own inclusion but look for someone to invite them into community in a non public way.
Dos and Don’ts for for connecting a Type Nine
Do: Personally invite them.
Guests who are Nines have a positive reaction to most personal invitations. Whether through a note, a text or a voicemail, Nines are often touched by someone who reaches out to them individually.
Make these invitations count by being specific and strategic. Invite them to your one program for connecting guests and look for a way to seat them with someone they know to make things feel more familiar.
Don’t: Single them out.
Singling out a Nine in front of others is not an invitation. It’s intimidation. They do not like to be pointed out in front of a group.
This also impacts volunteer placement for Nines.
Kendra sings on our worship team and plays keys. Her biggest challenge can be visibly commanding the stage to lead others in worship when her comfort zone is focusing on the music she is creating. This is how Nines usually operate. Don’ts for volunteer placement include:
Asking them to lead. Peacemakers do not naturally like to take charge of other people as that means plenty of opportunities for conflict.
Asking them to spontaneously do something in front of other people. One of their joys in life comes from serving people through a job well done. For them, this comes through adequate and thoughtful preparation.
Leaving them alone to figure it out. Because clarity and order are part of how Peacemakers insure harmony, they can become paralyzed if you give them a mandate to figure out how they should do something in a new role for them. They want to please and do it well so give them a road map and they will be thrilled.
Onboarding them just before a major change. Wait till the new way of doing things has been determined or the new staff person in charge of the area is in place. It can be very frustrating to change-averse Nines to figure out what serves people well only to have it dismantled or to start from scratch with somebody new. Though they may have good input ahead of time, bring them in to serve once the road has been cleared, not before.
So what then is the “Superpower” of a Nine on a volunteer team?
The super power of a Nine on a volunteer team is their ability to create order and harmony. This makes them fantastic team members and assistants. They are effective admins extending their peace through order and process. They are at home with behind-the-scenes roles but can serve up front with adequate preparation. They are great "welcomers and hospitality people (think customer service here) and love to make a great impression on new people and the people who have been around a long time. They know how to do it too! They are faithful and will serve in the same role for a long time if they a watered a little with appreciation and feel they are part of a consistent team and task.
My observation is that Nines are attracted to the teaching profession . You can see how having your own class of students following the processes and order you have created would appeal to a Nine. The atmosphere of harmony and fun they create is attractive to students of all ages and super important for kids.
Kendra went to culinary school and excelled, even won awards. Then she went to work at a restaurant. That atmosphere surrounding kitchens is high stress and sometimes contentious. She dropped out of culinary school and pursued worship leading next. Her experience in dealing with musicians, her desire to create order for them and her aversion to conflict made the worship part, not the leading part her sweet spot.
Now she is pursuing a teaching degree to become an Art and English teacher for high school. She has an online business called The Fleur Wreath that has been quite successful as she leads calligraphy and water color workshops at boutiques, wineries, and her studio. She works with all ages, written a short book on how to learn calligraphy, and creates a great environment for budding artists.
Kendra has found her sweet spot professionally and in ministry at our church. Helping a Nine find his or her’s in your church will be well worth the effort.
As I wrap up this enneagram series, look in my upcoming posts in August for this:
5 practical things I learned to connect guest from a hike I went on.
9 ways to minimize attendance drops at your assimilation program if it has multiple sessions.
A cool enneagram resource for your marriage based on you and your spouse’s numbers.
A preview of a new resource I am releasing in the Fall that will include an test to determine the enneagram number of our church, its connect-ability factor to certain types, and a checklist for eliminating your church’s vulnerabilities in connecting with any number.
See you on the climb!
Do you have unmet needs for admin type or organization help during events, programs, or at your office? Do serving in these areas offer a relational environment for Nines to connect with others and feel a sense of belonging?
Having you ever put a super talented Nine in a leadership position? How did it go? What did you learn? What did they learn?
In what ways could you create more personal invitations to serve that a Nine might respond well to at your church?