PERSECUTED | 40 Days of Focus, Day 25


Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
(Matthew 5:10 | The Message)

Most of us have no idea what it really looks like to be persecuted. We’ve all experienced bullies and jerks. We’ve all face insults and passive aggressiveness. But real persecution is deeper than that. Persecution arises out of fear and a lack of understanding. We fear that which we don’t understand. We cannot love that which we fear.

One of the most misunderstood types on the Enneagram is Type 5 – the Observer or Investigator. Fives have a deep inner commitment to truth and knowledge. They would rather sit back and people watch than actually engage in social interactions. They read the Encyclopedia for fun as kids. They are typically the type of people who know a little bit about everything and everything about something. The pursuit of knowledge and insight takes a high priority in their lives, to the point that they can seem aloof or standoffish. They tend to act more introverted than most other Types.

As such, they can be hard to relate to. They may be able to talk your ear off about differentials or automatic transmissions, but might not be up to date on the latest Marvel movies.

They are passionate about getting things right and doing things right. When they gain interest in a subject, they tend to go all in. They can be some of the best researchers, scientists, and engineers. But they might not be the “best” spouse, friend, or coworker. This can lead to ostracism and misunderstanding.

And we fear that which we don’t understand. We cannot love that which we fear. We mistreat that which we do not love.

Fives can feel persecuted because of their beliefs, values, and hoard of knowledge. They can feel left out, excluded, and unwelcome. That is…if they ever admit to these feelings.

An example of a Five in Scripture facing some level of persecution is Nicodemus. He appears three times in John’s Gospel. First he has a nighttime conversation with Jesus in which Jesus challenged everything he thought he knew about God. The second time we see him, Nicodemus is standing up for Jesus, pointing out that their own law prohibits the leaders from arresting Jesus without cause. They all turn on him and begin to ridicule him – even though he was simply stating facts, using his knowledge of the law to defend Jesus.

People don’t really like know-it-alls. That’s the boat most Fives find themselves in more often than we realize.

It’s important for all of us to do a better job getting to know one another. You cannot love your neighbor if you are afraid of them. You cannot overcome your fear of them if you don’t take the time to know and understand them. That’s what we all want, really – to know and to be known; to love and to be loved. And that’s what the kingdom of heaven is all about.

Do you know any Fives in your life? How might their knowledge come into conflict with their relationships?

What is our typical response when someone else points out where we’ve gone wrong? Even though they’re right, why do we react negatively?

Is there a person or group of people you’re afraid to get to know? Why? What steps can you take this week to reach out to them?

PEACEMAKER | 40 Days of Focus, Day 24


Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
(Matthew 5:9 | The Message)

Everyone who would rather avoid conflict, let me know by making a passive aggressive comment under your breath!

There are very few people who appreciate conflict and arguments. Type Eights aside, most people would rather avoid those hard, painful conversations. But I think we are all aware that absence of conflict does not equal peace. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Whenever a family never fights or argues, it’s probably because nobody is talking to each other, they’re all just avoiding the tough topics that need to be addressed. Anger and resentment bubble and simmer just below the surface. From the outside everything might look ok. But unless there is some conflict, there can never be real growth or healing.

Some of the Beatitudes have a more obvious Enneagram connection than others. This is one of those. Enneagram Type Nines are commonly known as Peacemakers. When they are unhealthy, Nines tend to avoid all conflict and uncomfortable situations. They can physically leave or mentally check out – or worse, use numbing behaviors – in order to preserve their inward tranquility. But when Nines are healthy they can become expert negotiators, mediators, and peacemakers.

There is a difference between a peace-lover, a peace-keeper, and a peacemaker. Peacemaking is the hard work of entering into the conflict and the chaos in order to get both sides to agree to a ceasefire. Nines are especially equipped for this task because they can easily step into other people’s shoes. They have an easier time than most seeing the world from other people’s perspective. They can easily see both sides of a conflict and determine a middle-ground on which to compromise.

Healthy Nines make really good pastors, church elders, teachers, and even politicians.

I love how Eugene Peterson words this Beatitude in The Message. He describes these people as those who “can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.” Nines are not inherently competitive (for the most part). Nines just want everyone to have a good time playing the game. Unfortunately we live in a world full of competition. We compete for jobs, for online attention, for resources, for followers, for the promotion, for the corner office, for the spot in that graduate program. We’ve turned singing, dancing, modeling, and cupcake baking into major competition shows. Peacemakers are those who step in and remind us that not everything is a competition. Life is a team sport. Ministry is a team sport. Business and government and baking are team sports.

But Nines tend to struggle finding their place in life, or going through the process of individuation. They tend to define their identity based on their relationship to others. As kids, Nines picked up on the message that their own desires and ideas and opinions – even their presence – didn’t matter much. So they  defer to others who are more assertive and would often prefer to fade into the background. But when Nines step into their role as Peacemakers, then they can truly become who they were meant to be. Or as Peterson words it, “That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”

What’s the difference between peace-lovers, peace-keepers, and peacemakers?

If peace is not simply the absence of conflict, then what is it? How would you define it?

How is peacemaking connected to our identity as children of God? What does he expect from us? What is our place in the kingdom? In the world?

PURE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 23


Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
(Matthew 5:8 | The Message)

Pure in heart. Now that’s a phrase we don’t use a lot. We don’t tend to talk about purity that often. We want our water to be pure. We want essential oils to be a certain degree of purity. We like pure gold and Purity Milk. But our hearts? Is it even possible to be “pure in heart?”

When I think of this phrase I think of innocence. Deep down we all know that we adults are anything but pure and innocent. In fact, if we meet someone in their late teens or early twenties who actually is “pure,” we feel uncomfortable around them. We call them sheltered or socially awkward. There’s something unsettling about an adult who is “too” innocent or pure hearted. They’re just a little too childlike.

But isn’t that the point? Jesus said that we must become like little children if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus pointed out children as an example of the kind of faith it takes to follow him. Children who haven’t become jaded or cynical yet are refreshing and even inspiring. They don’t get the innuendoes. They don’t automatically distrust people. They don’t carry around emotional baggage. There is freedom that comes from purity.

Care-free. Joyful. Optimistic. Does this sound like a certain Enneagram type? If you know the Enneagram, I’m sure you’re thinking of Sevens, also known as Enthusiasts.

Sevens are fun to be around, because they’re always up for the next adventure. They bring joy and excitement to their work and whatever else they find to do. Healthy Sevens have an innocence about them that draws people in. Think Bob Goff or “Joy” from Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out.

Sevens are always concerned about what comes next. They want to see all the things. They want to do all the things. Most of the time the expectation of the thing is better than the thing itself. Planning the trip can be more fun than actually going on the trip. Ordering the new product is better than that product arriving. Mapping out the project is better than executing the project.

But what’s the best thing you can imagine? Can you imagine actually seeing God? Being in God’s presence? As exciting as it may be to anticipate that moment, it’s nothing compare to experiencing heaven.

Sevens can be some of the most hesitant Type to actually do the hard inner work required of them. They enjoy being themselves, why would they want to change?! But Enthusiasts must align their inner world with their outer world to become fully present in the moment. They’re always looking to the future, but God is always now.

Bring your inner and outer world into alignment. Pursue your dreams from a pure motivation. Become fully present in the moment. Then you will be able to take a look around and see God at work all around you.

What do purity, joy, and productivity have to do with each other?

What do you think it means to “see God?” What do you imagine that will be like?

What does it look like for an adult to be “pure in heart” or innocent without being completely awkward about it?

MERCIFUL | 40 Days of Focus, Day 22


Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
(Matthew 5:7 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
(Matthew 5:7 | The Message)

A word about mercy. The word is closely related to the concepts of justice and grace. Here’s an easy way to keep them all straight.

  • Justice: I get what I deserve (positive or negative)
  • Grace: I get what I don’t deserve (positive)
  • Mercy: I don’t get what I deserve (negative)
We want the world to be fair and just. We want everything to be boiled down to a simple ration where the guilty are punished and the “good guys” get rewarded. But that all breaks down the moment we understand that bad things happen to good people, and the “bad guy”sometimes gets away with it. We begin to believe that the world is chaotic, that it’s dog-eat-dog, and that only the strong survive. We can’t take anything for granted – even our personal safety and survival.
Some of us learn this lesson earlier in life than others. These people often become dominant Enneagram Type Eights, or Challengers. Eights value strength, action, power, and justice. Eights make good superheroes. Eights tend to be the most aggressive/assertive type on the Enneagram. They can come across as intense and intimidating, “larger than life.” They wear their anger on their sleeve, but keep their more tender/vulnerable emotions buried deep.
So why would we talk about Eights in relation to this Beatitude?
Eights are heavy on the side of justice. If someone wrongs them, they want to make sure that person is held accountable and pays for the transgression. They want life to be fair and right, like Ones, but Eights aren’t as perfectionistic in how they go about fighting for justice. Ones might fight in the courts. Eights will march in the streets.
When it comes to justice issues, Eights are almost always on the side of the underdog. They see a lot of themselves in those who are mistreated, bullied, or oppressed.
Eights have the justice thing down. It’s mercy they need to work on. Eights are good when it comes to “people get what they deserve.” Not so great with “people don’t get what they deserve.” Mercy can be viewed as weakness, which is what an Eight wants to avoid at all costs. Mercy is vulnerable, making it a double whammy.
But mercy is strength because it requires us to absorb the full cost of the transgression, to let it go, to defer “justice” in order to preserve relationships.
Someone cuts you off in traffic? You let it go.
Someone gives you a dirty look? Smile and shake it off.
Someone utters a passive-aggressive insult? Just roll with it and move on.
Someone says they’re sorry? You forgive and move forward.
Deep down Eights know they are the ones most in need of mercy and forgiveness. They are painfully aware of their own weaknesses, their own shortcomings, their own failures. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
(James 2:12-13)

When Eights move to a place of health and security, they can offer not just justice but also mercy and grace. In opening themselves up to the vulnerability of mercy, they will find themselves on the receiving end of all they ever wanted.


Why is mercy often thought of as a sign of weakness?

What does society tend to value more: justice, grace, or mercy?

What do you think about James’ statement that “mercy triumphs over judgment?” How can that make sense in the real world?

HUNGER | 40 Days of Focus, Day 21


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
(Matthew 5:6 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
(Matthew 5:6 | The Message)

What are you hungry for? What are you thirsty for? What sustains you? What keeps you feeling whole and satisfied?

For certain people among us, the answer is simple: perfection.

We all know those people who want everything to be done right, for everything to be as good as it could possibly be. We know those who chase perfection in all they do – how they raise their family, how they perform academically, how they clean their house, how they organize the files on their computer. There is a right way to do things, and a wrong way to do things. They have a very binary view of the world – right/wrong, black/white, good/evil, straight/crooked.

Good enough is not good enough.

We call these people “Perfectionists.” They find their home at the ONE spot on the Enneagram. Sometimes they are also called “Reformers” because they have a way of seeing what’s wrong with a system or organization and then acting to change it. This can be great for a business. It can be less great with relationships.

Ones have a tendency to “should” all over everyone and everything. You should do this. You should do that. You shouldn’t do that, ever. You should always do this. In their pursuit to make the world around them “perfect,” they are plagued by the phrase “good enough.” Think Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series.

The problem is that we live in an imperfect world. The solution is not to “should” all over everything until it becomes perfect. That’s never going to happen, and it will only lead to frustration, anger, and burnout. The solution for Ones is to love.

Jesus says at the end of Matthew 5,

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

But the context of perfection in this instance is Love – specifically love for one’s enemies. In other words, when we can simply love without agenda, without expecting anything in return, without exception people to change – then we can experience perfection as God defines it.

Ones put a lot of pressure on themselves to avoid mistakes and to do everything correctly. God is urging us to let go of those pressures and walk in love. Instead of chasing your own perfection, seek God’s righteousness (Mt. 6:33). When we seek God’s righteousness above all else, then we will be made full, complete, whole like we never could have known before.

Why do we feel the pressure to be “perfect?” Has social media use relieved those pressures or made it worse?

What’s the difference between human perfection and God’s righteousness?

How does love help combat the trap of perfectionism?

MEEK | 40 Days of Focus, Day 20


Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
(Matthew 5:5 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
(Matthew 5:5 | The Message)

Google defines the word “meek” as quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive. It’s closely related to humility. We have a hard time with those words in our society. It’s a shame that meek rhymes with weak – because that’s not what it means. It’s a shame that humble and humiliation share the same root. We associate humility and meekness with weakness and fragility.

A Clydesdale may be meek and submissive, but that in no way means he’s weak or fragile. To be meek is to harness your power, to control your strength, and not to impose your will on others by force.

Again, it’s closely tied to humility. To be humble is not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less.

I always find this line from the Book of Numbers amusing:

Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.
(Numbers 12:13)

Irony is bragging about how humble someone is. But we all know people like this. We all know people who would give you the shirt of their backs. They would open their home for a dinner party in a moment’s notice. They would drop everything they’re doing to help you out of a bad situation.

These people, in Enneagram language, are called The Helpers. They are Enneagram Type Twos. They are driven by a need to be needed. They want other people to call on them for help. They are gracious hosts, warm and inviting to strangers, and generally pleasant to be around.

But while they often put on a humble, meek exterior, an attitude of pride is lurking just below the surface. This pride leaks out when they feel unappreciated or taken for granted. They can become indignant when they help someone out and don’t get a Thank You in return. If their actions go unnoticed, it can drive a Two crazy to the point of burnout. Think back to the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 11. Martha is slaving away in the kitchen while her sister is sitting at Jesus’ feet with the other disciples. Martha gets angry and tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her.

Pride and humility are two sides of the same coin. Humility can be easy to fake, but when tested the pride will almost always reveal itself.

Ironically, for a Helper to become healthier they need to spend more time focusing on themselves. The pride that’s hidden below the meek facade is fed by praise, acknowledgement, and by being needed. Twos actually need to starve that pride by learning to say no to others and setting boundaries. When Twos are able to starve their pride and get free from the trappings of outward validation, then they can become truly healthy and happy Helpers, who serve not from a place of pride but from genuine humility.

Or as Peterson words it in The Message:

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.

When Twos are able to live out of a place of genuine humility, they find within themselves the love and acceptance they always craved from outside sources. They no longer need to be needed with no regard to their own needs. Rather, they can now find ways to fill their own cup so they have something more to pour into others.


Why do you think it’s so easy for pride to hide below the surface of humility?

What is the more genuine display of humility: refusing to ask for help or making your needs known? Or letting others know what you need and how they can help?

What do Twos (Helpers) gain by embracing true humility?

MOURN | 40 Days of Focus, Day 19


Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
(Matthew 5:4 | The Message)

Enneagram Type Fours are commonly known as Individualists or Romantics. They tend to be more creative types – painters, musicians, authors, poets, etc. They have a unique way of seeing the world, and they want to be seen by the world as unique. They are driven by a desire to be special, different, authentic, but most of all to be accepted for who they are. You may not know who they are from one week to the next as they try on different personas and styles.

But the thing that really sets Fours apart from most other types is their comfort with melancholy. Fours tend to be drawn to sad movies, heartfelt TV dramas, and emotional indie music. They embrace sorrow like it’s a close friend. It’s been said that Fours don’t have emotions, they are emotions.

This comfort with sorrow can likely be attributed to their own feelings of brokenness. Many Fours grew up feeling different from everyone else. It might be a physical abnormality – too tall, too short, glasses, freckles, curly hair, anything that can cause a child to feel self-conscious. Or it might be a different way of interacting with the world and their peers – they might be into different types of books, movies, tv shows, or cosplay than most other kids their age. But somewhere along they way they begin to believe that there is something wrong and different and bad about them. They feel like they don’t belong and they never will. It’s like there are key pieces missing in the puzzle of their lives.

Fours have a deep seated envy of others whom they perceive as “normal.” They want what other people have, they want to be accepted and find belonging, but they don’t want to conform or be thought of as “normal.” This tension can lead to a predisposition for anxiety and depression.

But I believe Fours, or “those who mourn,” can teach us a very valuable lesson. So many of us would rather reframe a bad situation, crack a joke to lighten the mood, or avoid the pain altogether. Fours teach us the value in sitting with our pain and our sorrow. They teach us to lean into our emotions, not away from them. Fours teach us the truth of Ecclesiastes 7:

It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
(Ecclesiastes 7:2-4)

We cannot find comfort if we never allow ourselves to truly feel, to mourn, to grieve. If we keep going through life with a forced smile on our face pretending that “everything is awesome,” then we’re not opening ourselves up to the possibility of true peace and comfort.

The LEGO Movie featured the popular song “Everything Is Awesome.” But the sequel that just came out (The LEGO Movie 2, the Second Part) features a different take on that song. Just look at these lyrics.

Everything’s not awesome
Things can’t be awesome all of the time
It’s not realistic expectation
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try
To make everything awesome
In a less like, unrealistic kind of way
We should maybe aim for not bad
‘Cause not bad, well that would be real great

Mourning is part of life. Things can’t be awesome all of the time. We should stop telling people to “cheer up” or to “get over it.” We should stop expecting people to grieve on our timeline and in our approved way. Jesus himself is referred to as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Jesus comes to us in our distress, in our grief, in our depression, and he doesn’t tell us to “turnt that frown upside down.” He sits with us. He weeps with us. He feels deep compassion and empathy for us.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18)


Why do you think so many people try to avoid sorrow and sadness in their lives? Can you see the benefit to embracing those emotions rather than pushing them aside?

When you are going through a hard time, would you prefer someone to tell you to cheer up? Or would you rather just have someone be present with you even if they didn’t say anything?

Why would a “house of mourning” be better than a “house of feasting?”

Salt, part 4

The hodgepodge crowds from around Galilee gathered together along the shoreline of the Sea. They anxiously waited to hear what this teacher would say. The rabbi stood atop the hill, looking down towards the crowds below, full of fishermen, bakers, farmers, and businessmen. A hush fell over the people, and the rabbi said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

And so begins the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins his most famous sermon with blessings. When Jesus blesses the poor in spirit, the meek, those in mourning, those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, people in the crowd new, “Hey, he’s talking about me.” These are the peasants, the outcasts, the beat-down, the lonely, the poor, the broken, and the have-nots. They were not among the spiritually elite. They were ordinary, helpless people who longed to hear some good news from God, because according to their preachers and rabbis, God blesses those who have it all together.

Not according to this rabbi. This rabbi says that God blesses those who are on the down and out. He comes down, meets them where they are, and blesses them.

After finishing the blessings, his next words are, “You are the salt of the earth.”

Who is the salt of the earth? My whole life I heard this verse in the context of Christianity. Those who have been saved by God, those set apart from this world, and those who are perfect example of following Christ — those people are the salt of the earth. Right?

But in context, Jesus is talking directly to these people who are spiritually starved. They are tired, run down, and tossed aside. They don’t have it all together, they don’t have all the answers, and they certainly don’t feel set apart for anything. Yet these people are the salt of the earth.

What are some of the qualities of salt? Most people know that salt is used to season food that is bland, and it can be used as a preservative, like for meats and such. But as we’ve seen over the last few posts, salt can be used to purify and cleanse. It has healing aspects to it. And salt was extremely valuable in ancient times.

So when Jesus says that these people are the salt of the earth, that term is loaded. They bring flavor to the complacent world around them. They are preserving the world from certain ruin. They purify and cleanse the sin that so easily infects mankind. And most of all, they are valuable. They have worth beyond imagine.

That’s good news! This is a blessing within itself.

So be salt for someone — offer healing and cleansing to those in need, and add some flavor to the complacency of life.

And know that you are salt — you have value and worth beyond compare, so let God use you.