HOW EACH DISCIPLESHIP STANCE FILTERS AS THEY LISTEN TO THE WORLD AROUND US
As disciples within the various stances develop their capacity to observe themselves they discover that as they listen to the world around them their ears tend to tune into certain things and not others. The reason for this is that each of the nine discipleship stances represents a particular focus of attention. And, since energy follows attention, it is this focus of attention that directs where a disciple expends their energy within the world and by default focuses the attention and energy of others. Here are a few examples:
1. Discipleship Stance ONE - Disciples Who Seek To Perfect: As these disciples listen to the world around us they tune us into what makes or can make the world a better place in which to live. Their ears (i.e. focus of attention) are fine tuned to what’s right or wrong, correct or incorrect. When overly tuned into this “either-or / black-white; correct-incorrect” thinking they can become hyper-critical of self and others, easily frustrated with flaws and imperfections. Listening for the one “right” way they become deaf to the imaginative solutions the Holy Spirit presents every day. The world around them becomes the voice of their superego: “It should be better. It’s not right! It should be right! It can be better! It should be better!” They tune out the goodness inherent in ambiguity, in mystery and in “both / and” thinking. When relaxed in their stance they draw from their connection to SEVEN. They can laugh as their inner SEVEN reminds them of the 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not take thy self too darn seriously.” Also, listening to the world around them through their connection to FOUR can bring balance and creativity. They can be accomplished artists and designers. Yet if they shift into the low side of FOUR, their natural ability to see what is incorrect is amplified by the FOURs natural ability to see what’s missing. Listening to the world around them brings a feeling of being flawed in relation to others. Again, the voice of the superego: “I can be better! Why wasn’t I better? I could have, should have, would have, why didn’t I?” Yet, within the world is a still small voice saying, “Why do you declare flawed what I have declared good?”
2. Discipleship Stance TWO - Disciples Who Seek To Connect: As these disciples listen to the world around them, their ears are tuned into (i.e. focus of attention) to the needs of the world and what makes or can make the world a more loving place in which to live. They tune into the emotions of others as well as the relational connections or relational possibilities that exist among people. When overly tuned in however their listening can be intrusive and create situations of dependency or codependency. Their engagement with the needs they hear or perceive (emphasis on perceive) in the world around them is out of proportion with engagement with their own needs of which they are often unaware. Thus, they then can extend themselves beyond their own abilities and become resentful toward the very people they are helping. Listening through their connection to EIGHT helps them avoid “caregiver fatigue” and brings an awareness as well as an appreciation for interdependence. They acknowledge and speak up for their own needs giving the shame that often assails them when they put their own needs ahead of others, up for an early Lent They hear and respect boundaries. They hear and honor the abilities others have to respond to their own situations apart from the TWO’s help. Listening through their connection to FOUR they develop profound awareness of feelings and gain a deep understanding of their own needs.
3. Discipleship Stance THREE - Disciples Who Seek Success & Efficiency: As these disciples listen to the world around them their ears are tuned into (i.e. focus of attention) to what makes or can make the world more productive, organized, efficient and smooth running. Listening carefully to the world around them they are masters at adapting to both their environment and their audience as well as getting both to adapt to them. They cast the vision, set the standards, clarify the objectives and establish the goals that lead to success. When overly tuned in however, the sirens call to be busy doers steers them not to the rock of their salvation, but rather to the rock of self-deception & destruction. Though well intentioned, as they “press on to the goal” (Philippians 3:14) their doing can appear more self-focused than Christ focused. They become overly tuned into what they need to do to achieve the results valued and esteemed by the “particular world” around them. Listening to their connection to NINE helps them press the pause button on their activity long enough to ground themselves in their being as opposed to their doing. Listening to their connection to SIX brings a healthy skepticism as it comes to their ability and their ability alone to “right the ship”. They tune into the gifts and competencies of others, leveraging the gifts of the team for success. When overly tuned in at SIX in some way shape or form their focus of attention is on False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR) as they become skeptics, cynics, hear slights or motives from others that aren’t necessarily there.
4. Discipleship Stance FOUR - Disciples Who Seek To Be Understood: As these disciples listen to the world around them their ears are tuned into (i.e. focus of attention) to what’s missing. They listen for authenticity, originality and what makes or can make the world a more beautiful place in which to live. Their ears pull out the beauty, the passion and the deeper truths of human existence present all around us. They are creative, inspiring and listen for what is unique and often missed by the rest of us. Through their connection to ONE they’re also prone to hear what is not right that needs to be righted and what is not correct that needs to be corrected. As one might imagine this carries both a blessing and a curse. In the lower levels this disciple can become a moody elitist whose patience wains as they grow more and more frustrated or depressed by the lack of refinement and understanding of those around them. Much like disciples in stance FIVE the impressions they pick up from the outside world can be overwhelming. However, unlike the FIVE, who distances themselves from the emotional import of this by keeping it in their head, the FOUR’s heart soaks it all up, puts a story to it, a sound track behind it or places it on a canvas. Enneagram teacher Tom Condon likens their heightened sensory abilities to a “watercolor in the rain” saying, “they experience a rinse of kaleidoscopic impressions that strike them on a very deep level.” Here, donning their “ONE ears” can bring balance to a booming universe. They find an ability to distinguish one thing from another, discern shape, form, size and scale.
5. Discipleship Stance FIVE - Disciples Who Seek Knowledge & Information: As these disciples listen to the world around them their ears are tuned into (i.e. focus of attention) to what can make the world better understood, more intelligible and a more enlightened place in which to live. They have an innate ability to listen to many voices, opinions and insights and synthesize the information they hear. Usually quiet observers they break their silence every now and again to offer observations, assessments, analysis and an occasional “wise crack” (pun intended). More often than not, however, hypersensitive to the draining aspects of the world, they hold their observations to themselves. Polar opposites of disciples in stance TWO, these disciples minimize and depersonalize their sharing so as to avoid feeling depleted. The connection to EIGHT moves the FIVE from their head to their body and helps them tune into the world in real time as opposed to reliving experiences in their mind later. Very often this connection is seen in their engagement with the physical world through exercise (hiking, biking, running, etc). This connection also helps them tune into justice issues and take bold stands when needed. Their connection to SEVEN brings playfulness and kindness. Carrying them beyond data mining this connection helps them hear the imaginative possibilities and solutions underneath and beyond the data.
6. Discipleship Stance SIX - Disciples Who Seek Security: As these disciples listen to the world around them their ears are tuned into (i.e. focus of attention) to what makes or can make the world a safer, more secure, more reliable and more trustworthy place in which to live. Their minds scan for danger, for what might go wrong and there is no arguing with possibility as the possibility of danger lurks everywhere. As gifted as they are at listening to the world in this way, a caution they often cannot see lurking in the shadows is that at some point their heightened sense of listening for danger itself becomes more of a threat than what it is they seek to avoid. Still, as they listen to the world around us they become excellent trouble shooters preparing us for problems that we might not anticipate or see. Tuning into their connection to THREE helps them discern productive worry from counterproductive worry. They begin to move with purpose rather than perplexity. Tuning into their connection to NINE grounds them in their body, a move that can quiet their mind and put things in perspective.
7. Discipleship Stance SEVEN - Disciples Who Seek Options & Possibilities: As these disciples listen to the world around us their ears are tuned into (i.e. focus of attention) what makes or can make the world a more delightful place to live in which to live. They tune us into the voice of the ONE who says, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be made complete.” (John 15:11). They hear a world in which options and possibilities are unlimited and joy abounds. This is both blessing and curse. As one might imagine hearing so many options and possibilities all at once can overwhelm and short circuit. Listening through their connection to ONE helps them discern between a plethora of options, prioritize the possibilities and focus so as to move forward. Whereas the ears of the SIX are tuned into worst case scenario, the ears of this disciple are tuned into best case scenarios. Listening through their connection to FIVE brings balance and enables them to evaluate before they celebrate rather than the other way around.
8. Discipleship Stance EIGHT - Disciples Who Seek Justice and Strength: As these disciples listen to the world around us their ears are tuned into (i.e. focus of attention) what makes or can make the world a more just place in which to live. They have in innate ability to listen for justice & fairness issues, for where power is used effectively and resources are distributed equitably. As they receive the world through their body there is a sense in which they have “ears” in their gut. They would unashamedly admit they have a high BS meter, though they would not abbreviate. Listening to the world around them they grow impatient with all talk and no action especially if they sense the vulnerable in the world around them are being neglected or slighted. Mother Teresa is thought now to have been a disciple whose core discipleship stance was EIGHT. Many mistake her stance as TWO, but her compassion is representative of the EIGHT’s connection to TWO. EIGHTs are tough customers and fight for the poor and neglected. And, in a world that often favors the rich and powerful, one would have to be. As EIGHTs listen through their FIVE ears they can pull back their energy (not always easy for them) long enough to reflect, listen and engage with thoughtful intentionality. When their connection to FIVE is muffled however they can take action too soon & too forcefully. They become deaf to and blow past processes there to help them and persons actually on their side.
9. Discipleship Stance NINE - Disciples Who Seek Peace & Harmony: Like the FIVE these disciples have an innate ability to listen to many voices, opinions and insights. As they listen to the world around us their ears are tuned into (i.e. focus of attention) the agendas of others and what makes or can make the world a more harmonious, ecumenical, and comfortable place in which to live. It is for this reason that quite unconsciously they have difficulty identifying and being forthright with their own wants, opinions and desires as they sense doing so might create conflict. However, it is by not doing so that very often they find they have created or at least contributed to the very conflict they sought to avoid. Like EIGHT & ONE their stance is centered in their body. They are grounded and often serve as the “grounding wire” for highly anxious people. However, they often report that underneath their calm exterior lies a raging river, a river they try to hold back so as not to overwhelm others. Occasionally something within the world will be their tipping point. The damn will give way and a torrent of emotion will spill forth, catching those closest to them by surprise. They will sense the “overwhelm” in the way others respond to them, feel guilt and quickly go back to holding their “river” at bay. Listening to their connection to THREE they hear and seize the opportunities the world presents to release bottled up emotions, insights or opinions in ways that are productive, efficient and alleviate the pressure that’s been building. However, when the connection to THREE is muffled their energy is released in less productive, less efficient and less direct ways. They spin their wheels. Their words ramble. And, they distract themselves with tasks, duties or roles they play at work or home. Listening to the world around them through their connection to SIX can also be both productive and counter-productive. When counter-productive they fail to trust their gut and get trapped in their head. They filter what they hear through suspicion, worry, fear (false evidence appearing real), and skepticism. When productive their hearing turns them into strong, courageous trouble shooters who as a way of being loyal to others are loyal to themselves (i.e. their own wants, needs and opinions).
As I hope you hear, these nine discipleship stances depict nine unique ways of hearing the same call, Jesus’ call to be and make disciples. Understanding and respecting how important each stance is to the whole can create compassionate curiosity within a community of disciples. By considering what disciples hear from within the nine stances, as they seek to listen to God together through “Dwelling in the Word” (i.e. scripture) and “Dwelling in the World”, members of the community gain a better understand of what God might be up to in their midst. What God cares about “most” is not fully known in one discipleship stance over another. The heart of God, the heart of Jesus is revealed within each of the nine stances. Therefore, it is through listening to stories about what each disciple (within their particular stance) longs for, has lost or is afraid to lose that hearts can align with God’s own heart as it is revealed in Jesus. What's in your portfolio?