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Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Matthew 10

During the week that I spent in Denver, I had lunch with a clergy colleague that was doing her sabbatical on something called the Enneagram. For those who don’t know, the Enneagram is a system that identified nine basic personality types. I suppose you could think of it as a cousin of sorts of the Myers-Briggs Personality test.

After talking with her about her studies, I was motivated to go back to the motel we were staying and take an online version of the test to see what personality type I was. The test revealed that I was a 2 – a typed called among other things “The Helper”.

There is a lot that I could say about traits of my personality type. The easiest way to characterize the type, however, is to say that Helpers are people who put the wants and needs of others before their own. Their goal in life is to give – and receive – unconditional love.

That part sounds great, doesn’t it?!

The only problem with 2’s is that by always putting other people’s wants and needs before their own, people such as myself become out of touch with their own wants and needs. If they ignore those wants and needs too long, 2’s can become unhealthy and find themselves expecting other people to read their minds, anticipate their wants and needs, and then meet those wants and needs. When others can’t read their minds, 2’s can often respond by becoming controlling or manipulative in their desperate attempts to have their wants and needs met.

As I read a few books about the nine personality types in general (and my type in particular), I walked away from my vacation experience committed to doing something I have rarely done in my life: getting in touch with my wants and needs, and then taking the risk and actually asking to have those wants and needs met.

I received unexpected encouragement on my path when I read today’s passage from Matthew. In that passage, Jesus is quoted as saying: “We are intimately linked in this harvest work… Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger.” And then there was the sentence that hit me like a ton of bricks. “Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help.”

The notion of accepting someone’s help being as important as actually extending help is a new concept for me. I would much rather focus on the other person and their wants or needs than admit I have wants and needs myself. If I took time and actually examined my wants and needs, I suppose I would have to face the truth I spend lots of time trying to avoid: I’m not a perfect, self-contained unit. I need help – from God and from others!

So where are you with the notion of accepting help from others? Do you find it easy to do, or is it something that challenges your basic ways of being? If you don’t have an answer to that right away, watch yourself through the course of the day and observe how you deal with your own wants and needs as they emerge.

Til next time…

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Hello! Just found your blog, very intersting. I teach at a small Catholic school in MA. (but was theologically trained at ANTS) We used the enneagram as part of a faculty/staff retreat. I already knew I was a 6. I also have a blog here on "blogger" and a few weeks ago talked about how being a 6 has affected my other passion- learning Russian. Nice to meet you, I look forward to reading future posts!