The Enneagram of Discernment by Drew Moser

Enneagram of Discernment cover imageSummary: Helpful thinking about the ways that enneagram impacts discernment.

In my ongoing reading about discernment, this was a book that I found on Kindle Unlimited. I have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, but mostly it is used by my parents or kids, who share my Kindle account. But there are cases like this where I find a book in my reading area and it is always nice to borrow it instead of purchasing.

I am mixed on the enneagram. I think that  to the extent that someone thinks that it is helpful and accurate in describing them, then it can be helpful to give language around personality types. On the other hand, I also think there is not a lot underlying enneagram and any system of categories has limitations because no system like this will perfectly describe someone. It is about tendencies and rough categories.

What I like about the enneagram is that it intentionally is focuses on health, moving toward healthy interactions, not simply description. It also recognizes that those aspects of personality that are strengths are also weaknesses when pushed or taken too far. There are healthy expressions of personality and our internal tendencies and unhealthy expressions.

The format of this book is unique and helpful. You can get a general book that has everything for all types. Or you can get a type-specific book that has the main content of the book but also has an end section focusing on just that type. In my case, I got the type 5 book and it has about 160 pages of main content and then a chapter that summarizes and focuses on just type five (or your specific type.) I think type five describes me pretty well, and so I read the whole book, but for those who are just interested in your type, especially if you are borrowing it from Kindle Unlimited, the focused chapter on your type is about 30 pages of summary that I think you can get most of the understanding from in a short time. You will get more detail if you read the whole book and you will see how your type fits into the larger system of the enneagram. If you are aware of spouses, friends or coworkers’ enneagram types, then the larger book can also help  you see how your type and their types interact.

Broadly, I think the Enneagram of Discernment is thinking about discernment and vocation in similar ways to how I have been thinking about it. Moser uses this definition:

“working definition of discernment: Discernment is the gift and practice of living our lives from a deep sense of vocation, with wisdom, in the fullness of time.” (p33)

Discernment in this book is a process of understanding the world around us in cooperation with vocation.

Palmer [Parker] perhaps says it best when he describes vocation “not as a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received. Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess.” (p72)

If you skip to the end, I think you will miss the helpful framing. Chapter One is about general barriers to discernment. Some of those will apply to all of us. But there are also specific notes about how some types are more susceptible to different barriers than others. We live in a digital age and one of the main barriers to discernment today is mistaking knowledge for discernment or resisting the time it takes to reflect and do the discernment. Or spending the time practicing discernment to move toward wisdom. The digital world trains us to “skim and scan” (p43) and not reflect and contemplate.

Chapter Two is about how different enneagram types think of vocation as identity, purpose, and direction. Chapter Three talks about how different enneagram types understand wisdom, through doing, feeling and thinking. And chapter Four encouraging us to understand how our enneagram type relates to time (past, present and future.)

I am not going to share here, but I highlighted a lot of the chapter on my type. While it took me a while to get through those early chapters, once I did, the end chapter on type five made a lot of sense, and I read it quickly because was essentially a summary of the previous 150 pages focusing on just my type. This summary quote from the end I think is right.

“Way of Discernment is no express lane. While it can provide momentary help in times of decision, it’s a longsuffering journey. So, when the next decision comes, journey through The Way of Discernment. Hear the call to go back and get it, and discern your life with flourishing abundance.”

The Enneagram of Discernment: The Way of Vocation, Wisdom and Practice by Drew Moser Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition

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