I am excited to introduce you to my sons, Nick and Daniel, today. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that they are both Enneagram Fours – The Individualist. It sure would have been helpful to know what I know now about fours as I was trying to figure out how to parent them. Daniel takes the lead on this post and you’ll hear from Nick at the end. Thank you for joining us today.
Had someone said to me, “Hey there’s this new personality test called the Enneagram and you should take it,” I probably would have nodded, said it sounded cool and promptly ignored the suggestion. That is not how it went for me, thankfully. When my wife and I served alongside the pastoral staff of a church in Cincinnati, we learned of the Enneagram as a way to grow as self-aware people who follow Jesus. This appealed to me greatly because I live with the conviction that we can all benefit from having some self-awareness. The funny part is, as a Four, that self-awareness is the lifeblood flowing through my veins. That desire for self-awareness and living in light of it leads to a hunger for authenticity both within myself and certainly within others. Let me paint the canvas of a Four with more clarity.
Who is the Individualist?
In some literature, a Four is called the Individualist, while other times they can be identified as the Romantic. One time, I had even heard Fours named the Bohemian, which I find hilarious, but fitting in its own way.
We Fours love to be different, sometimes eccentric. We often are the creative types in the room. There is a longing for others to see us as humans who have something unique to contribute to a project or to a community. We can even come off as melancholy here and there. Why? Because many times, we are leading with our emotions (all of them) and we empathize as best we can with the pains and the joys of the world around us. Our best work arises from those places where we have felt the hurt of sin and suffering in the world as well as the joyous celebration that comes from the Holy Spirit.
Fours are not their Emotions
One of the things I am learning over and over in my quest for authenticity and individuality is that “I am not my emotions.” My wife will even remind me of this from time to time and she’s absolutely right. As a Four, I can sometimes only see through the lens of my emotions in that moment. It’s so challenging to imagine that I’m not seeing the complete picture. Honestly, that can be a scary place. I’m learning that the truth is broader than my sight in those moments. When I want to go inwards and rely solely on my emotions, I’m not getting the best interpretation of my situation. When I choose to submit to the wisdom of others and value what they are actually telling me, I get a much clearer sense of what is happening around me.
Today, there’s a fine balance I’m trying to find between hearing my emotions and heeding the wisdom of others. Admittedly, it can take me a few times to really hear my loved ones because I can also be stubborn. Nevertheless, there’s another part of the equation that I hope is speaking louder than my emotions. It also coincides with the guidance of my closest people- PRAYER.
The Gift of Prayer
It seems obvious that Christians should pray, but it doesn’t come naturally to many of us, especially me. It’s a language, if you will, that constantly beckons us to achieve fluency. It’s a beautiful and diverse language and it’s mysterious. Having known that I’m an Enneagram Four a few years now, I crave prayer now more than ever. I discovered that I not only want to pray, but I want to do so whole-heartedly. I often compare this to a story in the Gospels where a Pharisee and a tax collector both go to the Temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee gives this self-justifying prayer about how righteous he is and he ends by thanking God he is not like other sinners. The tax collector, on the other hand, immediately postures himself in the wrong and cries out with his need for God to do something miraculous within him.
Do you see where someone craving authenticity and transparency can only say, “YES” in response to the tax collector? As a Four, I love this story and it provides an example that authentic, non-hurried prayer is a healthy way for me to navigate my emotions. Let me remind you that in this current digital age that is filled with distraction and supposed urgency that genuine, slow-paced prayer is something I both crave and sense that we all need. For those of you who know someone with a personality similar to a Four, guide them towards prayer as a means of being rejuvenated and filled with clarity. Not only this but be an example to those people in your life. The more a Four can witness your prayer life, the more likely they will be to adopt that practice for themselves.
In closing, I wanted to leave you all with some other ideas for interacting with Enneagram Fours in your life. Rather than giving you my exclusive take on it, I defer to another Four who also happens to be my brother Nick.
Enneagram Fours long to be authentic and to ask them to be anything less than real is crushing. #newpost #EnneaWhat #Enneagramseries #Enneagramfour #TellHisStory #linkup @dgalmighty @nickgeisen Click To Tweet
“The challenge of being a Four and feeling like you are your emotions is brought into the spotlight when someone tells you to “stop being sad/ angry/ frustrated/ anxious” or “suck it up.” What that really feels like to the Four is someone telling you to not be yourself… to fake it. The Four longs to be authentic and to ask them to be anything less than real is crushing. Instead of telling the Four to essentially be inauthentic, give them space to feel their emotions. If you want to help them, walk through the emotions together, lend a listening ear, or maybe shed some tears alongside them.”
If I could sum up what gives life to a Four beyond authenticity, I would offer you the word Presence. Don’t just do or tell– Be present. This will vastly improve your relationships with Fours and perhaps give you a chance to receive some of their creativity and empathy.
I love all I learned today from my sons. Do you resonate with the personality of a four? Share in the comments.
And if you are looking for more information on the Enneagram, catch my friend, Lisa Burgess’ series at Lisa Notes.
Daniel Geisen is a husband to Kayla and father to Jack. He loves writing, reading, and is currently the Pastor of Central Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio. Nick Geisen is a husband to Alli. He is a musician, writer, lover of technology and is the owner/founder of Quill and Cape Media.