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.”
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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?

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)

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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?”

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.