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Mission Monday: Enneagram on Mission


In today’s post, current lay missioner Nate Mortenson reflects on the rich personal insights he gained from the Enneagram and how it relates to his spirituality while on mission.

For those of you who know Mary well, you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that on our very first date she hashed out The Wisdom of the Enneagram with me and helped me discover what number most represents my personality. She had guessed already and she was right. I’m a 9, also called “The Peacemaker”.

The great thing about this personality exploration is that it helps you understand the positive and negative sides of your whole person. It helps you understand what your most basic desires tend to be and how to free yourself from being confined to such specific basic motivations in life.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types  by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Just as the Enneagram has been super important for my relationship with Mary, it’s also been enlightening on mission. All the FMS and Maryknoll missioners here have done it at some point while on mission or during formation like we did back at Casa San Salvador. Tonight during our Monday night FMS meeting, Jeff and Mary are planning a few activities and discussions based on the personality types of the Enneagram that I know will be really helpful in understanding one another and strengthening the bonds within our community.

Looking back at the chapters about my personality in the book Mary has, Wisdom of the Enneagram, often helps me understand why I’m reacting the way I am to things I experience in a new culture and a new community. A perfect example of this was when our housemates Val and Hady and Mary and I went out to buy a new couch. After looking all day and finally making the decision to buy a couch set, I announced that I suddenly had to go grocery shopping for some things for dinner.

Shocked, they all told me I couldn’t leave now, just as we finally were ready to make a decision on which sofa we all like. Later that week Hady and I had a good laugh as she recounted that night, knowing that in general big community decisions in most cases are things I try to avoid – being a peacemaker it often feels easier to not make a big deal out of anything.

The Enneagram highlights nine different personality types. Learn more about them here!

Those are little things we notice living in community and it’s always helpful to understand each other better. So this is my plug for the Enneagram. There are several books published about understanding your personality type that also cover a variety of themes in life. For example

Richard Rohr has a book about spirituality and prayer with the Enneagram.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson have an all encompassing book about understanding the Enneagram.

The Enneagram Made Easy helps look further into understanding relationships with the Enneagram and it also covers chapters such as how to understand personalities in work relationships.

Check out one of these books at your local public library and you’ll find yourself applying the wisdom of the Enneagram to your life too!

Mary and Nate recently returned from two years of mission at the rural Carmen Pampa University in Bolivia.

Nate, the youngest son of nine, hails from La Cross, Wisconsin. Mary grew up picking strawberries in small-town Minnesota. The couple met at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, where Mary studied sociology and outdoor leadership and Nate studied Spanish and geology. They share a passion for food and bicycling, and a desire to set their marriage on a foundation of service, simplicity, and a deeper global understanding.