• Nathan

Focus on Your Design: The Foundation

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

Last week I wrote about the dubious history of the enneagram and why I don’t use it. If you didn’t read it, it may give some context for this post.

The enneagram is useful as an indicator. It shows how fiercely people want to understand their design. The Bible can help with that.

Romans 12:4-8

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do

not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ,

and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ

according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them

accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service,

in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his

exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he

who shows mercy, with cheerfulness”.

The Bible explains that God gives each of us gifts and graces, which we are to exercise. They are, in order:

1. Prophet

2. Servant

3. Teacher

4. Exhorter (Encourager)

5. Giver

6. Ruler (Administrator) 7. Mercy

God gives each of us “free money”, embedded in our gifts. We all have

talents, interests, and inclinations that don’t require striving. We enjoy life

and receive life through those gifts. By unpacking those gifts, we can better

understand how God made us to know Him, know ourselves, and know

where we fit in life.

Unfortunately, we fall short because of our marred gifts and wounds. We bring our dysfunction to the body and it meets with the dysfunction of others. We operate below our designs. But that does not diminish the design. It is still divine.

Jesus is the example of a human living out His design through His relationship with the Father. It was not Jesus’ divinity that allowed him to do this. If it were, He wouldn’t expect us to be able to follow His lead. It is clear in the Bible that He emptied himself of His power, and relied completely upon the flow of life He received from the Father. Because He lived this way, we can be born again and live this way through the Holy Spirit in us.

That is the difference between self-improvement and salvation. In the enneagram or any form of human enlightenment, life flows from the ground up, aiming toward perfection. In salvation, life flows from the top down. It is a gift, not an achievement.

That doesn’t excuse us from effort. But the effort is to discover and unwrap the gifts.

It is a life unfolding in gratitude. At the end of our life we will stand before God and give an account of our stewardship. That is not a negative thing unless we squander our lives. As much as we have discovered and nurtured our gifts, we will enjoy fulfillment in life.

Over the next seven weeks we will look at each gift. We will talk about the motivations, birthrights, and battlefields for each gift. Let me clarify- this is not a personality test. The goal is not for each member of your team or family to better relate with one another, although it could be a benefit. The goal is not that you know yourself. The goal is that we know our God. Every good thing flows from Him.


This teaching on the redemptive gifts is in no way my own work. I rely heavily on the great work of Arthur Burk.

If you would like to dive deeper, this teaching series is a great place to start.

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