Knowing vs. Doing: You know what to do. So do it!

The great Yogi Berra once said, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice – in practice, there is.”

The great Jesus Christ once said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I say?”

James, the brother of Jesus, would put it this way: “Be doers of the word, not just hearers.”

I think deep down we all know the things we SHOULD be doing.

If we follow Christ we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Practice humility. Give to the poor. Study God’s word. Pray without ceasing. Turn the other cheek. All that stuff.

Continue reading → Knowing vs. Doing: You know what to do. So do it!

Biblical Enneagram Types: NINES

The Peacemaker


Enneagram Type Nines are typically known as the Peacemakers. Nines have the uncanny ability to see everyone’s point of view at once and can join in either side of a debate. However, they usually choose to withdraw from the debate altogether because they want to avoid conflict and anything that might upset their calm.

Nines sit atop the Enneagram for a reason. It’s not unusual for a Nine to have difficulty finding their type since they can relate to so many other numbers. They can understand the drive of the Three, the desire to be helpful of a Two, the skepticism of a Six, and the protectiveness of an Eight all at once.

This can be a good thing or a very bad thing. Healthy Nines make excellent mediators, able to bring two conflicting sides to the table and find common ground between them. Unhealthy Nines, however, can be crippled by the conflicting viewpoints and simply shut down, withdrawing into themselves and their own little world. If a Nine doesn’t want to be moved, then they can become the most stubborn Type on the Enneagram. But if a Nine truly doesn’t have strong opinions, then they are usually happy to go with the flow.

They can be peacemakers or conflict-avoiders. They can be laid back and easy-going, or they can be an immovable stick in the mud. They can be assertive and fight for a just cause, or they can be masters of sarcasm and passive aggressiveness. They can be aloof or welcoming.

Nines often defer decisions to the group or to the one in authority. As kids, Nines picked up on the message that their presence doesn’t matter very much, so they learned to fade into the background and keep their anger in check lest they rock the boat. Nines come into their own when they learn to pair their ability to see all points of view with an assertiveness to act on what they know to be right.

Healthy Nines can be a blessing to everyone around them.

FATHER ABRAHAM HAD MANY SONS…

Funny how we never talk about Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (Genesis 26:1). But whatever.

I believe that the “Father of the Faith” was a Nine: Abraham.

God called Abraham (then known as Abram) to leave the place of his fathers and travel to a distant land. God promised that he would bless Abram with offspring too numerable to count. It’s a beautiful promise, really.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:1-3)

I don’t know how well any other Enneagram type would handle a promise like this. A Three would let that go directly to his head as his ego inflated to the size of a hot air balloon. A Four would probably try to hide from the responsibility – You’ve got the wrong guy, God. A Seven would be almost TOO eager for the task. A One would likely get caught up in all the details of exactly how and when God’s plan would come about. But Abram simply trusted and went.

The very next story in Genesis 12 is about Abram traveling to Egypt. While there, he fears that Pharaoh would have him killed in order to take his wife, Sarai. So in order to avoid that conflict Abram told the Egyptians that Sarai was his sister. They still took her, but they let him live. God had to step in and punish Pharaoh and his court because of Abram’s lie. A very similar thing happened in Genesis 20. Nines often think they are doing what’s best if they avoid conflict, but that often only makes the situation worse.

Then there’s the time when Abram’s and Lot’s (his nephew) herds and flocks were getting too big. They knew they couldn’t stay together, so they decided to part ways. Abram would go one direction, Lot the other. Abram let Lot have the first pick. Nines share some commonalities with Twos, for instance putting other people’s needs and desires above their own.

When Sarai grew tired of waiting for God to act on his promise of a son, she urged Abram to take her handmaid, Hagar, and use her as a surrogate. This is yet another instance when Abram avoided a potential conflict and everyone was worse off because of it. Hagar bore a son named Ishmael, and Sarai grew jealous and eventually sent them both away to make it on their own in the wilderness. Abram just let it happen.

God changed Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah. Soon after that God sent his angels to investigate the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah – where Lot and his family settled down. The report was NOT good, to say the least. God sent word to Abraham that he planned to destroy the cities and the inhabitants. But Abraham took on the role of mediator and began to bargain and negotiate with God on behalf of the cities. The cities were full of evil, but Abraham still saw something worth saving in them.

Finally, Abraham and Sarah were blessed with a son of their own – Isaac. God fulfilled the promise he made to them so long ago. I think only a Nine could have been as patient as Abraham. But then…God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac upon an altar. Some theologians and rabbis over the years have insisted that Abraham should have argued with God on behalf of Isaac like he did on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah. I’m not sure. Maybe this is another instance of Abraham simply going along in order to avoid one more conflict. Or maybe Abraham had learned by this point to fully trust that God was in control of the situation. He sounds confident when he tells his men, “We will go up and worship, and then we will come back down.”

Abraham ended up outliving Sarah. One of the most amazing little lines jumps out to me every time I read about Abraham’s death.

Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah.
(Genesis 26:8-10)

Nines have a way of bringing people together. Even in his death Abraham was able to bring Isaac and Ishmael together again. I don’t know that they ever settled their differences, but they were together for a time because of their father. I think that’s a very touching detail that we often overlook.

Abraham was compliant and stubborn. Abraham was a pushover and he stood up for his beliefs. Abraham shied away from conflicts and he got into arguments with God Almighty. Abraham acted in his own self-interest and he became the one through whom all nations would be blessed. Abraham was self-absorbed and concerned about making everyone else happy.

Nines often live in the tension between action and inaction. When pressed with a choice, they choose not to choose – which is still a choice! Nines must learn to move, to act, to decide, to fight. Deciding not to choose is almost never the right decision.

Nines, we see you, we love you, we need you. God created you with a gift to see everyone’s perspective. But don’t lose your own perspective while looking at everyone else’s. God created you to live your life. God has blessed you so that you can be a blessing to all people.