How a Type 2 on the Enneagram experiences your church and how to connect them

Nathan was a high schooler when I first met him in Next Steps. He was such a great guy, easy to talk with and helpful beyond belief. I began to think that his helpfulness came from the fact that he grew up as the oldest of 8 children. I was wrong.

Nathan was a Helper because he was a 2.

Nathan and I at a Compassion event at “The Farm” in Anaheim.

Nathan and I at a Compassion event at “The Farm” in Anaheim.

I have known many a firstborn without that helpful spirit. Nathan outshines them all in the help department. As a high school graduate at 18 years of age, he become my youngest Table Host at our assimilation events, volunteering for the job so that he could include other teens and young adults in our connection environment. He wanted to see all of them get plugged into a small group and a ministry team. He knew what happened in his own life when he was allowed to serve in the ministry (I can’t even say invited….it was his idea) and he wanted all his friends to have that same opportunity.

There was no task too small for Nathan. If it would help you or help the ministry to get something done, he was your man. Half the time you didn’t even need to ask-he just did it and was happy to. Nathan easily became a go to person for our Jr High and Kidside ministries. He even learned how to play the guitar and lead worship when we were short on worship leaders in Jr high for a time. You could not pay me to learn an instrument and stand on stage in front of everyone and sing to fill a need like that.

Nathan didn’t need to be paid. It energized him just to help.

How do these awesome people see the world?

Twos on the Enneagram see their environments as a potentially fearful unloving place, fraught with the possibility of relational loss or emotional chaos. Twos see themselves as the Helper, the ones who can create relational stability, emotional equilibrium, and order where they may be a sense of chaos.

Helpers like these are highly motivated to change the spiritual and relational temperature of any room they find themselves in by serving others, making other people feel noticed and secure. They look into your eyes to discern if you are “OK” and if your not, they make it their personal mission to make sure you will be. At least they want you to feel that way.

What Twos inwardly struggle with is the desire for someone to do that for them. They secretly want others to love them in the same way they are showing love to others. When that doesn’t happen, they may get withdrawn, introspective, or pull away. They could also get demanding and a little vindictive. It just isn’t right in the mind of a Two to give so wholeheartedly and have it continually go unreturned, taken for granted, or to be taken advantage of by self absorbed people.

This is just a thumbnail sketch of a Two. By this description, many of you reading may emotionally relate to the Helper profile or see your own commitment to serving and helping others and say to yourself, “Hey, I’m a Two!”. But don’t be so fast. Twos are the number one false diagnosis among Christians, particularly women when it comes to the Enneagram and for obvious reasons: Christians and woman are trained by most churches and our culture at large to be servants and to be helpful. That doesn’t mean you are a Two. A Two’s knee jerk response to life is to help. It is their default, not just a habit or expectation.

That’s why Twos experience your church as a “Partner”.

How Two’s see your church

As Twos, Helpers see a community of Christ followers as potential partners in the task of helping. In other words, they see someone with a need (physical, emotional or spiritual) and the church is their para-helper (think the role of the Holy Spirit) to meet those needs. They are happy to do all they can, run point, ask and network but the church becomes a resource or environment where needs get met and help gets received. A church without a heart to help is no church for them or for their friends. A church that has the heart to help? A Two will invite someone every weekend to that place.

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Do’s and Don’ts for connecting a Type Two

Do: Wow their guest.

A guest who is a Two rarely comes alone. They bring with them people who need God in their lives, help or hope of some kind. When they do, they need to know that those guest will be overwhelmed by the helpful heart of your church. Twos need to know that your church doesn’t just see them, but they see any person they would bring through its doors. When that happens, your church is fertile ground to connect not just a Two, but their entire relational network of people they want to help.

Don’t: Take advantage of them

Since Twos are Helpers, they could be taken advantage of by unhealthy or clueless ministry leaders or even just needy “church folk”. The most horrible thing you can do to a Two is not value them for who they are by seeing them merely as a means to an end. When that happens, a Two will lose respect for you and possibly your entire church and you will not be able to connect them at all. Their difficulty in saying no to anyone can make them easy prey for the selfish or narcissistic. A church culture with too many “takers” can burn a Two out quickly and lose their trust. You then ultimately lose them.

All of this points to their Superpower…

What is the “Superpower” of a Two on a volunteer team?

Their superpower as a volunteer is tirelessness. I have rarely seen the end of a Twos rope when it comes to their willingness to help someone. This means their place in your church’s ministry is on a team that helps people in some way, even if the help is directed at a ministry leader they respect enough to want to set up chairs for or stuff bulletins for, and the like. It just has to make someone happy in a way they can see and feel appreciated for. When that happens Twos will…

  • show up anywhere

  • stay long afterward

  • tackle even the most menial or daunting task

  • fill in any gaps

  • thank you for the opportunity!

Their tirelessness will add drive, energy and consistency to your ministry if you are able to deliver on the “do” listed above and appreciate them along the way.

Bottom Line: Twos are worth the investment. They always yield a return. So if you need to figure out how to help people in financial need through a simple form and an easily identified contact person, do it. You will become the perfect partner for a Helper.

Nathan and Olivia….engaged!

Nathan and Olivia….engaged!

If you need to grant health and support to your Recovery Ministry so that a Two knows where to take their friends in need of sobriety and freedom, then do it. Twos will meet them at the door and attend with them whether they themselves need recovery or not.

If you need to do a series on marriage or offer small groups on relationships to help people in marital difficulty, do it! Twos will invite every maritally challenged person they know and may even start a small group to better include them in your study.

Nathan grew up and later became my son’s roommate, an extended member of my family, and a Kidside staff member at our LaHabra campus. I also had the privilege of marrying he and his wife Olivia-a Biola graduate, also a staff member at our LaHabra campus, and a member of the focus group that provided research for this Enneagram Series (she is a Six). They are an awesome couple and they certainly take their place in the Pantheon of couples who keep the influence of Jesus spreading in their generation.

Why? Arguably because Nathan is a Two and he came from a mailer to visit our church one Sunday. So partner with the Nathans visiting your church right now. Help and wow the people they love with the Spirit of Jesus in you. You’ll be glad you did.

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  • Is there a Two on your team? If not, bring one in and have them share what they love about your church and what their greatest concern about it is right now. It will be a clinic for learning the emotional landscape of any Twos visiting your church right now.

  • Name the place in your church a Two could take a friend who is:

    • Struggling with addiction

    • Needing financial help or temporary housing

    • Experiencing a marital crisis

    • Losing a loved one to a health issue

    • Needs a new circle of friends.

  • What are three ways that you can show appreciation to volunteers with a Two bent? What is a “tripwire” that would tell you if you crossed into the place where you would be taking advantage of someone with the Helper profile on the Enneagram?

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