The Gospel According to an Enneagram Five

Luke 12:35-48

“To whom much is given, much will be required.” (v. 48)

This scripture, and its surrounding parable told by Jesus, has been preached, taught, and “caught” in so many ways, in so many contexts in my life, that it was one of the first parts of scripture that I ever memorized. This verse is also the saying about Jesus that hits me most. (You know, beyond John 3:16 and John 11’s “Jesus wept.”)

When Drew asked me to consider adding to a blog series of all nine Enneagram types, I was intrigued by the challenge, honored to serve, and immediately overwhelmed by the pressure and world-wide-webyness of whatever I would submit. Welcome to the world of the Five (The Thinker).

Fives are observant, curious, and insightful. We either fix problems or destroy them to make room for a refreshing solution. At our best, we’re the expert idea person who offers wise consultation or the powerhouse culture transformer with a public platform. At our worst, we’re the eccentric overthinker who isolates ourselves from the community and gets lost—even becoming harmful—in our very thoughts.

Enter the servant of the Luke 12:35-48 parable. Left in charge of the master’s house while he’s away for a wedding party, Jesus tells that “it will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching” (v. 37), “ready” (v. 38), and faithfully “doing” (v. 43) when the master finally returns. There are different types of servants represented within this parable: the ones who know and do the right thing; those who don’t know what is right to do; and the ones no one wants to be, who know what’s right and yet do wrong with abandon. In this story, each type of servant gets a different type of reward: more responsibility, light correction, or severe punishment and rejection.

On first sight, my (in)famous Five personality immediately zeroes in on verse 38, identifying issues and asking questions galore. First, there is the pressure of being given knowledge, instruction, gifts, opportunities, etc. How much do I—the servant, of course—really have or really know? Then, there’s the challenge of being enough. Do I, the servant, know what to do? Is what I know and what I do enough? Will it meet the Master’s (Jesus’) expectations? If it’s not enough, is there punishment coming? At the end of the story, the master wants to give the servant more to do? Seriously?

Looking into this parable from the servant’s space and the Five’s struggle, I see the potential to get distracted by the challenge to serve. It’s possible to be overwhelmed by the over-imagined expectations of the divine Master. If I’m too focused on the problems, I can get stuck feeling as if I’m not ever ready for the task ahead. Then I don’t do anything at all. Can you feel the weight of this analysis paralysis that comes from not feeling like I’m enough?

I know, I know. This is the gospel of the Enneagram series, so… where’s the good news?

Don’t miss the opening scene to this movie! Look again at the story of these servants. The good news is there. At the beginning we read, “the master [is] to return from the wedding party.” All the work of the servant is about being ready to welcome him back. Instead of focusing on the problems or potential problems, acknowledge them and remember that our service is really about the Solution who is coming back to your door. God the Creative Master, Jesus our Lord, and the Spirit (the gift of God’s presence and reminder of God’s truth) is coming to the door of our lives. Focus on the One who is good, who wants good for us, who made good in us and who is faithful to show up where we are. God is the solution and gift at the door!

Focusing on God as the solution and gift at the door can help us servants to not be distracted by the false expectations created in our thoughts—“the master is taking [too] long” (v. 45)—or the pressures presented from an American culture that tells us to be busy instead of “ready” (v. 38). Looking to the parable, the Master gives three expectations or jobs for his servants: watch out for God’s presence, be ready for God’s return, and serve faithfully in the waiting. Those aren’t unfair. They aren’t hard to do. That list is actually pretty simple, and so it’s freeing.

As long as you’re faithfully serving, thinking about our good God coming to see you, you’ll be found ready—and enough!—to gain the rewards God offers. In this parable, the Master being with the servants is the first and greatest gift of good news. We servants are not alone and don’t have to live isolated from our community. God is coming with a party on God’s mind. You are more than enough and welcome to join in the celebration.

To be a Fabulous Five, here are a few things I do to get and stay healthy:

The first thing I do in my day is…nothing. As a Five, my mind immediately wants to find a problem to fix or an activity to do, so I start the day by intentionally doing nothing. I get out of bed, brush my teeth, sit on my comfy couch, and I stop. The sofa is my “quiet place.” Being reminded to “be still and know” leads me to real quality time. This habit is a daily reminder of the gracious expectations in God’s word and it helps me have a healthier perspective on my day.
The YouTube Dance Party. It’s a practice of joy (read: self-care) to be and stay healthy. It’s also a chance to practice for the party to come! Jumping and dancing to music is great by oneself, but it’s even more fun with someone else. (My husband and I do this often. Our current favorite dance party video is “Level up” by Ciara.) If the Master is coming from a wedding party to my door, shouldn’t I get ready and practice partying too?
Go outside. Do something with somebody. Don’t get lost in analysis paralysis just thinking about doing something. You’ve thought enough; make it a point to regularly go outside of your comfort zone and do something new.

Rev. Robin Kay Monk Self is a grateful Black American introvert, woman, daughter, wife, missionary, preacher, teacher, counselor, ‘X-ennial’ and student of life who currently serves as Youth Pastor at Bates Memorial in Louisville, Kentucky and servant in the Lott Carey Missions Network. Her heart’s desire is that people meet, for themselves, the One who receives, loves, heals, and uses all types of folk to do great things. She never wants to gets in the way of that meeting.
Let’s connect: robinkaymonk @ gmail.com.

Find other posts in this series here.

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