Type 2 | The Helper

TYPE 2

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Pride to Humility

Belief: I belong because I work harder, am a team player, help wherever I can, and earn it.

Deepest Fear: Being seen as or realizing I am worthless.

Deepest Desire: To add value to the world around me.

How they see/justify their sin: With all I do, appreciation and acknowledgement are the least of what I am entitled to as a human being.

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Overview

The 2 Types are the quintessential sidekicks. They are LeFou, Beauty and the Beast; Kenneth Parcel, 30Rock; and Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings. They are the relentless optimists, hardest workers, and willing to do anything to be of service to the world around them. Their conclusion is that being “helpful” is the greatest good, in fact, more people should just be… helpful.

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Their sin of Pride isn’t what you might think. It’s not arrogance. It’s a belief that with all the work they’ve done, they deserve their spot at the table, acknowledgement from the person they serve, and appreciation that any social convention would demand when someone has sweat blood to make an enterprise or other individual successful. Their belief is “I deserve to be thanked” and “my hard work has earned me my place here.” Their value, thus, is what they do. So they are intent listeners, frantic servants, and loyal companions.

Their journey is toward humility. And their integration lines help with that immensely.

2 wing 1 | Wonder Woman

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The smash superhero hit Wonder Woman shows a mindset that might not be completely in synch with the original character or the animated kids show representation, but Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is an excellent example of a 2w1.

We find her an optimistic young girl who just wants to be a part of the tribe. She learns of the story of their origin and their responsibility as Amazons (to protect the world from Ares, the God of War). It’s from that moment on she trains so she can contribute to the cause. And she becomes amazing.

Throughout the story, however, she displays an incredulity at both why people would ever engage in war (she’s convinced there’s no other explanation than that “mankind” has been brainwashed by Ares) and why the people with power refuse to act quickly or decisively.

Diana’s first trip to the front lines is overwhelming to her. She sees animals trapped in mud, a soldier with a leg blown off, and a mother holding a crying baby and she feels compelled to help them all (demands it even).

What’s interesting about Diana is that you have a 2 (the compulsive “helper”) with almost unlimited power. What you may not know is that Wonder Woman has been a challenge for writers. It’s taken years to find a director who would take the Wonder Woman story. The complaint has been “she’s unrelatable.” She’s almost invincible, has no iconic nemesis, and was raised in a totally foreign manner to the common person. To have a compelling protagonist they have to fall at some point, they have to face life or death, have to overcome their greatest weakness and face their greatest fears.

What the Wonder Woman story did was to give a “2” too many people to “help.” It was brilliant. It worked because it was relatable. With all her power she couldn’t accomplish what she wanted. At the same time, she proved she could eventually make people stop fighting but then faced the deeper issue: running away from the disintegration to the Lust-for-Power 8 and choosing to stay compassionate.

We see her 1 wing in her constant mantra for justice. 2w1’s have a distinct trigger when the situation is unfair or when people are bullied. Diana’s explosion at the British Intelligence meeting is a perfect example of a 2w1 tapping into their righteous motivations.

2 wing 3 | Leslie Knope, Parks and Rec

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Amy Pohler’s hit show Parks and Rec follows the adventures of a small town governmental office overseeing the city’s parks and community events. I’ve gone back and forth on if Leslie is a 2w3 or a 3w2. She certainly has the ambition and obsession with achievement and success to support the 3 theory. What I believe makes her a 2, however, is her self-policing. She often will say an aggressive or critical remark in the midst of a debate and then almost immediately correct herself and state the truth (which almost always fails to support her stance). For example, she’ll say “Ann, you are so stubborn!” and then immediately “That’s not true, you’re a beautiful warrior princess and I love you.” This isn’t typical of a 3 who would value winning above helping and would rather use psychological savvy rather than blatant debate.

At some level, though, Leslie does care about what people think of her. She’s dedicated to the people of her small town of Pawnee and loyal to a fault to her team of employees. The entire series begins (and carries through for the first couple seasons) with her desire to help Ann with her problem of a pit next to her house. She never rests until it’s done and she can fulfill her promise.

Where we see the 2 most clearly though is when she gets the briefest of affirmation from her stubborn boss Ron Swanson or later, the annoyingly perky Chris Trager. Where we love to see Leslie best are the moments when she realizes that her value isn’t in what she does but in who she is. That’s the healthy integration to the 4: my value is inherent and not tied to my actions.

2w1’s help the people they love (and they have huge hearts) because they believe it’s the right thing to do. 2w3’s by contrast help others because of who they believe it means they are (they’re “good people” and just as successful as those they help).

Integration Lines

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The 2 type is journeying from pride to humility. Their need for appreciation, acknowledgement, or affirmation is relinquished as they move toward their virtue of humility and begin to also live into the virtues of their integrated 4: equanimity. Healthy 2’s migrate from the need for validation because of what they do and instead find value inside. They don’t need others to see their worth, they embrace it themselves. They matter because… they do. They’re just as special as everyone else and completely unique just the way they are.

At their worst, 2’s live into the betrayal of those who have failed to see them as worthwhile and begin to take that power for themselves by living into the sin of the 8: Lust. Not a sexual lust, mind you, but a lust for power. 2’s instinctively go above and beyond to be recognized for their contributions, in their mind it’s undeniable that they matter. But given enough rejection, oppression, being taken advantage of, or bullied and 2’s will flip. They’ll break rules, get vengeful, and end up bitter.

Character Coaching

2’s are notoriously support characters. They’re lovable, often the comic relief, and loyal to a fault. The challenge with making a 2 a protagonist is in separating them from the rest of the herd so we can watch their story. That being said, 2’s are the iconic underdogs. They are easy targets for bullying (because it’s not often important to them to get on the level playing field with other types, many of whom are more selfish, self-absorbed, or competitive). We want the 2’s to win because everyone can see some of themselves in the 2.

For antagonists, consider that the storyline for a 2 villain is a character who has been hurt. Bullied victims who work to regain some kind of power or a character who spends time planning or enacting some revenge are good places to start. Just remember: a 2 has been rejected in some form to turn them to the dark side.

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Consider Rowan North from the Ghostbusters remake (with Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig). Here you have a janitor at a hotel who is constantly taken for granted, ordered around, and spoken to like a second-class citizen. He begins to put things in motion to release ghosts into the world as a way of punishing those who have hurt him. We want him to take the advice of the ghostbusters and realize that he’s worth being treated with respect and dignity. He doesn’t and we get an epic interdimensional battle.

Considerations

Andi Sachs from the movie The Devil Wears Prada is a great example of a 2’s victory. At the end of the movie she walks away from her controlling boss, throws her phone in a fountain and never looks back. She bravely walks away from the source of her (albeit limited) affirmation and reclaims her individuality and lives into her 4.

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2’s are idealists. They live into utopian fantasies about life, about how people should act, about how close the world is to perfection, and tend to believe the best about people. A broken 2 will be uncharacteristically skeptical about people, hesitant, and vigilant about boundaries. They want to believe the world is a wonderful place and may live on a perpetual roller coaster of hope and disappointment.

Additional Examples

Elphaba, Wicked (Broadway)

Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo

Kimmy Schmidt, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (TV)

Wormtail/Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter (series)

Dory, Finding Nemo/Finding Dory

Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries

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Type 1 | The Reformer

TYPE 1

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Sin-Virtue Journey: Anger to Serenity

Belief: There’s something wrong with the world and it starts with me.

Deepest Fear: Discovering or realizing they are “bad.”

Deepest Desire: Integrity and holiness.

How they see/justify their sin: Nothing is more important than pursuing righteousness.

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Overview

The 1 Type is known as the “Reformer.” This type sees the world through a lens of “right and wrong” or “black and white.” There’s a right way to do things and they discipline themselves to embody that righteousness. They inherently believe they are the chiefest of sinners and thus live with perpetual regret, self-condemnation, and a strict code of lifelong penance. “Anger” in this context isn’t necessarily a temper problem. Instead, the 1’s I’ve met in real life have an undertone of perpetual frustration with themselves and the world around them. The journey, thus, is toward serenity.

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An interesting observation about the 1 Type: they don’t necessarily live by an objective moral code. It’s not necessarily a religious fanaticism (although that can certainly be a part of it, especially if your character is a villain or anti-hero) but it is an adherence to a worldview that makes sense to them. 1’s can be difficult to manipulate because they’re so busy “catching up” on their own sense of righteousness, but should the character’s sage gain enough influence, your “1” can become an extremist who can also be turned martyr should their conviction go deep enough.

1 wing 9 | Bruce Banner / The Incredible Hulk

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Bruce Banner is a great example of a 1w9 character. His inner demon (which actually becomes an outer demon all too frequently) causes him incredible pain and regret. He can’t contain it. There’s a literal “sin” inside him that forces him to act outside of his control. He’s constantly living in a state of regret and (at least in the Avenger movies) is reasoned with to help atone for his sins by helping right the bigger wrongs.

An iconic Bruce Banner exchange: “Don’t you have to get angry?” “That’s my secret… I’m always angry.” Bruce has a 9 wing because his response to his sin is to withdraw. 9’s want peace and Bruce believes his isolation will protect himself and others from his uncontrollable… issues. In the first Avenger movie he’s sequestered away in India. In the second, he leaves the group in a stealth plane. He doesn’t move toward people, he moves away from them to protect them from himself.

1 wing 2 | Princess Leia, Star Wars

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One of my all-time favorite movie sagas. While Leia isn’t the central protagonist, she is an archetypal 1w2. She has an unwavering commitment to her mission, her duty, her people, and to the peace of the galaxy. She rarely gives herself the luxury of a break, can get frustrated when people don’t take the matter at hand seriously, works relentless hard and doesn’t seem to mind life-threatening danger in the name of her cause. What distinguishes her as a 1w2 is the fact that when challenged by her crusade, she moves toward people. She believes helping, supporting, and fighting for others is the expression of her sense of justice and duty. She values people, listens to them, places herself between those she’s protecting and the danger at hand. She never once considers abandoning her quest or her post (a 1w9 would likely be more prone to isolation and withdrawal). She’s (arguably) an unsung hero in this saga being one of the few characters to never really be dominated by, seduced by, or broken by “the dark side” (something to consider when crafting a 1 character: their biggest demons are almost always internal).

Integration Lines

For your 1 character you should consider the spectrum of unhealthy to healthy.

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1’s at their worst exhibit the negative sin of the 4 type: envy. This sin is the belief that “everyone has something figured out that I don’t.” That can cause them to become depressive, reclusive, feel rejected and isolated, or potentially make them even angrier or bitter. There’s an inner monologue of betrayal: I’m working so hard to be good but no one else agrees or is making an effort to address all that’s wrong with the world. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with them?

1’s at their best lighten up and take on the virtue of the 7 Type. They let their hair down a bit, give themselves a break (and the others around them) and find their serenity by indulging in a few luxuries. This is so easy to illustrate and what makes 1’s great protagonists. We all want the relief of watching this character calm the hell down and smile.

Character Coaching

Hero 1’s are easier to write in ensemble because the buffer of more lighthearted characters can help pull readers/viewers away from what can come off as irritable and judgmental personas. Stand alone 1’s would work well with a peppy best friend or some kind of comic relief in their lives. They need people who care about them to help pull them out of their swirl of despair. But ultimately it’s their inner demons they have to face.

Villain 1’s are pretty iconic. Javert from Les Miserables is a good example of a villain 1. He’s doing the right thing but feels terrible about it. He complains that to resent justice simply doesn’t make sense to him (even though that’s exactly how he feels). You sin: you pay the price. The worst position he finds himself in is at the mercy of the “sinner” who’s acted with more nobility than himself. He finds himself in conflict over what the “right” thing to do is and it eventually overwhelms him.

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1’s can also be great foils for protagonists who have a hard time staying on task (7’s and 5’s maybe) but also can be good motivators for paralyzed or depressive 9’s or 4’s. They can be great competitors or dispassionate judges especially in storylines where meticulously following the rules is the environmental/situational villain (where the moral of the story is: lighten up.)

Considerations

I’ve heard it said that 1’s are notoriously optimistic about what they can accomplish in a given time frame. Thus 1’s (for all their striving for perfection) tend to be late to everything, apologize often, and can have lives that feel “out of their control.” It’s primarily an internal issue, the striving for perfection. Thus, exaggerated character 1’s may have messy living conditions, not worry much about their personal appearance, have addictive healthy regimens (like push themselves to exercise quite a bit too much), have personal crusades and often be found on soapboxes, and even pushing their penance onto others (especially 1w2’s) by invading their personal space or independence in an effort to “do the right thing.”

1’s can often get confused with 8’s. Here’s a fundamental difference I’ve found: both types say “something’s wrong with the world” but 1’s say: “I’m part of the problem.” 8’s believe “all of you are part of the problem.” 1’s tend to stand alone, 8’s tend to command a crowd and constantly be recruiting followers to their righteous causes. If your character is too worried about getting people to do the right thing, you may be working with an 8 instead of a 1.

Remember that 1’s may have their own “moral code” they’re following, not something objective. Their “gut” or “instinct” is driving the car and many just say “because it’s the right thing to do” without a lot of reference. 1’s also are almost never the perfectionists they claim to be. They’re not showy (like 3’s who actually do want to be perfect). They often betray their sensibilities but never without determining the punishment/penance required for such transgressions in advance. Thus, a common theme is: there is always something to regret.

Healthy 1’s are incredible assets to a team. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to incorporate their relentlessly hard working attitudes or fail to cash in on their willingness to be martyrs for a cause.

Additional Examples

Spock, Star Trek

Britta Perry, Community (TV)

Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

Frollo, Hunchback of Notre Dame (villain)

Ronan, Guardians of the Galaxy (villain)

Elsa, Frozen

 

Enneagram Basics | Three Basic Elements

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Enneagram | The 3 Basic Elements

The Enneagram is in one sense a very simple concept, but in another the most complicated, sophisticated, adaptable, and potentially subjective profile tool out there. I’ve been using it for a couple years now and still feel like I’m only scratching the surface of what’s truly available to me with this tool. It’s absolutely brilliant and with the various complexities it contains, has an infinite number of possibilities (which is great for storytelling as you tailor your characters).

There are so many layers and nuance to the Enneagram but for a primer level discussion I believe there are 3 elements to understand:

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The 9 Enneagram “Types.”

I’ll be honest, I hate the term “type.” The Enneagram is intriguing to be because unlike many of its counterparts (such as DISC or Myers Briggs) it is not a personality profile. I want to make that clear. The Enneagram isn’t describing if you like to be around people or if you get details or if you’re artistic or live according to some objective moral code. The Enneagram is something entirely different.

I wish that difference was easy to summarize, but that’s what makes it beautifully philosophical. The Enneagram is rooted in an Eastern philosophy outlining the “9 fragments of the soul.” Each point on the Enneagram is a tension between a sin and virtue combination (anger and serenity; pride and humility; fear and courage; gluttony and sobriety, etc.). We Westerners love to take these ideas and say “what’s your type?” “I’m a ___.” That’s not exactly how it works. Every sin and virtue combination should be cultivated in one’s life. Every human on earth will have moments of anger or greed or envy.

It’s not about ever experiencing that emotion, it’s about the primary lens through which you evaluate the world around you. It’s how you react to your fears and insecurities (and more importantly WHY you choose to respond the way you do). It’s about what you need and how you’re likely to respond if you don’t get it. It’s about how we interact with people and what we believe about our potential, our future, and our survival.

Your “type” is the place on the circle you tend to sit at, much like King Arthur’s round table and that “type” probably makes sense to you, probably reflects how you see the world, and probably reveals the primary challenges you face in the deepest part of who you are.

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The 18 “Wings”

As you can see, the Enneagram is drawn in a circle. While each type is numbered, they’re not a hierarchy, they’re just… seats at the table. One of the fascinating elements of the Enneagram and how it’s laid out is that each type is influenced (maybe strongly, maybe subtly) by the two types on either side (the “wings”). It’s an important distinction because it can affect the flavor of the expression of the primary type or put another way, it can explain how it makes sense to you to address the sin of your primary type.

For example, the “1” type tends to be focused on the right and wrong, black and white of the world. There’s a “right way to do things,” but for the “1” they believe the failure to live righteously starts with them. 1’s tend to be hard on themselves, live with regrets, frustrations that they haven’t been good enough, and put their greatest efforts into disciplining and punishing themselves into right living.

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But a 1 with a 9 wing is pretty distinct from a 1 with a 2 wing. A 1w9 is likely to withdraw as they work out themselves striving for the serenity (the 1’s signature virtue) in peacemaking and even isolation.

The 1w2 however is much more likely to press into relationships. This type is more likely to see their penance played out in making the people in their world better (because helping people is the “right thing to do.”)

1w9’s pull away, 1w2’s press in. It’s a big distinction but at the core of it all is still a soul angry at itself and the world for falling short of ideal and striving for serenity in the midst of the darkness.

One last thought to consider, the wings are a great place to start in cultivating a healthy character. (A humanitarian superstar 3w2 would actually benefit a lot from having some of the artistic, creative 4 wing nurtured in their lives.)

The Paths of Integration

Once you’ve identified a type and the influencing wings, the last primary element to consider is how healthy is your character. The unique geometric figure (the “enneagram”) is more than an icon, it’s actually a traced path between the numbers connecting them in a web of unhealthy to healthy.

The Enneagram suggests that the primary type (in tension between its sin and virtue) is not the only journey the soul can take. The integration lines are the two numbers connected to the primary type and illustrate the sin observed when the character is in a dark, unhealthy emotional state and the virtue added when reaching a point of health.

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For example, the 3 type is about masks. Vanity or deceit are the signature sins and the battle for authenticity is the soul’s task for the 3. This type is inherently ambitious, wants the spotlight, tends to scoff at obstacles to achievement, success, or getting what they want. They’re the golden children, the perfectionists, or maybe even the dog-eat-dog business superstars. They can be the most inspiring of figureheads or the most offensively competitive of opponents.

The disintegration of a 3 is the 9 type. What that means is that 3’s rarely accept defeat, but when they do, they can go depressive and withdraw. They begin to take on the sin of the 9 which is “sloth.” 3’s who feel like there’s no hope, no way around an obstacle, or no way to win can shut down and escape. It’s the loss of ambition, a numbing, overwhelming sense of failure, and the sheer devastation that they simply cannot finish the journey even with the use of their best “masks.”

A healthy three, however, integrates to the 6 Type and begins to express the virtue of “courage.” They come out of the limelight they crave as a 3 and join the equality and community of the group as an average participant. They bravely begin to shed the masks (the persona’s they present to get what they want or to win people over) and let people start to see the real them (their real quirks, fears, weaknesses, insecurities, etc.) and wait to see if they will be accepted or rejected for those authentic attributes of who they are.

Summary

There are other elements of the Enneagram to consider that can affect the expression of a character or person’s make up, but these are the basics. Start with questions like: who is this character? What do they want? What will they do to get it? What will they do if they don’t get it? How do they see the world? And most importantly: who will this character become through the journey?

By using these evaluative tools you can begin to see the world through your character’s eyes. When something happens, how are they likely to react? How does it support or devastate their values? How does it prey on their fears? How does the event, challenge, or quest give or take away what this character wants most? Ask these questions to let your characters lead your story instead of having them react to the circumstances you hope to create.

Make your characters believable, then we can see a bit of us in them and go on the journey ourselves.

If you’re a nerd like me, here’s some more complex descriptions you could study:

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Storytelling | Enneagram-ing Your Characters | Intro

Welcome to my little project. This and the posts that follow are 100% my opinion, 100% because I’m a nerd at heart, and 100% because I just wanted to do something creative. The Enneagram has become one of the most fascinating tools in my arsenal of learning to understand people better and the most sophisticated resource I’ve come across. So read ahead accordingly. It’s all just a bit of fun.

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I’ve done a bit of creative writing over the years. It’s so much harder than I thought it’d be because a) I struggle with imagination, b) writing has never been my strong suit, and c) I tend to tackle it logically, clinically, and in a somewhat formulaic manner. Learning the artistry side of writing stretches me (probably a healthy move for a 3w2 to cultivate my 4 wing a bit more). But one thing I think does help me is my ability to craft character profiles. It’s why I think this is worth considering. I think the strongest stories are the ones with characters who are consistent, who lead the story instead of react to it. So without further or do, here’s an intro as to why I think it matters.

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In storytelling, the characters we follow are representations of who we are at our very core. They go on the adventures we could only hope to have. They face the horrors we fear to face, the victories we dream to prevail over, and become the people we wonder if we’ll ever become. What makes a character great is when they suffer in a way that’s closely or distantly familiar to us, when they face loss, experience pain, confront insurmountable obstacles, face demons, confront bullies, or even endure the dispassionate natural disasters or threats i

n the world around us. It’s who they come out as on the other side that’s the big mystery, the big reveal. We hold our breath to wonder if it’s truly possible to weather the storms, to come out on the other side more or less… okay. We are scared of scars, fear trauma, and are fundamentally terrified of the unknown. Stories help us consider the possibilities and give us a chance to ask: in a similar circumstance, would I make it?

Life and death are the most fundamental realities we comprehend. And by taking our characters to the brink of life and death, we explore that basic primal reality and determine how we will live accordingly.

I say all this because stories that touch us deeply have to be at some level relatable (we may not understand what it’s like to be a Hobbit but we can understand the need to come out of comfort and move into bravery) but also believable. While the complexity of the human soul is far too sophisticated to fully catalog, a tool like the Enneagram can help make a character make sense. Not everyone is identical, we know that. We’re not creating robots and merely changing their programming. We’re crafting beings with ideals, personalities, hopes, fears, norms, pain, and at some fundamental level we understand as both writers and readers that any given character has limitations based on their make up.

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Bilbo Baggins was happy, like many of his Hobbit brethren, before being whisked away into his journey “There and Back Again.” A 9 on the Enneagram, his desire was for peace, for stability, and to more or less be left alone to live out the serenity of his nice little life. We’d expect him to get agitated or anxious when that stability was threatened (a disintegrated 6) but we also celebrate when he begins to find his own purpose and start to live into it (an integrated 3). We hope he’d make the move from sloth, laziness, or disengagement toward engagement, purpose, and productivity. That’s a character we understand, even when he acted outside that, he followed the basic philosophies of the Enneagram.

What we would have been confused to see is for him to get sidetracked by all the beautiful elf maidens and forget his quest in a brothel (more of a 7 move, maybe like Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek). Or for him to get depressed and lament “no one understands me” maybe giving up entirely that someone more qualified should probably take on the quest (much like his 4 nephew Frodo). That just isn’t Bilbo Baggins. He’s the optimist, he rallies the troops, supports the angsty Thorin Oakenshield when he loses his mind to entitlement and dark withdrawal. He’s not the character we need if he’s a dominating 8, a skittish 6, or an image-obsessed or vain 3.

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One of the biggest mistakes a storyteller can make is to craft a character that in essence betrays who they are by becoming what the story needs instead of acting as they would according to their personality and make up. Older cinema, for example, is hard to Enneagram because they were often one dimensional, reactionary, and idealist. Their journeys were mostly external. Consider Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I find her Enneagram far more difficult to define than the great supporting cast around her (the Scarecrow 5, the Tin Man 4, the Cowardly Lion 9 (who lived a lot in his disintegrated 6), the Deceitful Wizard 3). Many of these iconic characters acted according to where the story teller wanted to go instead of considering what this character needed, how they’d respond, what they’d do in the face of their fears, and who they’d ultimately become through the course of their journey.

Storytellers don’t have to sacrifice a great plot, give up an innovative concept, or forego a complex world. But they will find a great deal more depth in their finished product by considering who they’ve sent on these journeys by considering the personalities of who their characters are.

This goes for heroes/protagonists, villains, supporting characters, sages, even anti-heroes. Everyone has a motivation. Villains, especially, become far more compelling when they act according to their Enneagram. A villain might actually be “healthy” on their Enneagram but might merely have a conflicting ideal with our protagonist or even a competitive goal. More often than not, though, a villain will be operating out of their sin or disintegration and understanding their motivations, dysfunctions, and general unhealthiness can make them far more compelling, interesting, even sympathetic. Gone are the days when storytelling was compelling as merely good defeating evil. Characters who are relatable, even villains and anti-heroes, are deeper and more engaging. And those are the characters with whom we journey best.

Next post we’ll break down exactly what the Enneagram gives us/tell us and then we’ll start tackling each Enneagram type in more detail.

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Homeschooled and LOVING it!

So I’m participating in Kelly Chadwick’s Creative 30 project. Everyday she’s posted a new creative assignment to get our juices flowing and thus far we’ve drawn self-portraits on post-Its (it was actually supposed to be on a napkin but I improvised), found pictures in the clouds, and done photo-stories.

(My drawing (on the right) may or may not have looked like a police-sketch of a serial killer but hey, we’re learning that the worse evil is not to try.)

One of our assignments, however, was about creative, free-flowing writing. The task was to set a timer for 15 minutes and just write until the clock ran out. The prompt was “my favorite thing about elementary school.”

So here’s what I wrote for my assignment. It ends abruptly but that’s because my 15 minutes were up.

Elementary School:

Being homeschooled I guess I didn’t know what I was missing when kids said they went to school. In fact, just yesterday I had a conversation about “bus memories” with a friend. I never rode the bus. I woke up every morning to my dad singing through my bedroom, joyfully opening the blinds to my room letting in painfully bright rays of bubbly sunshine so I could “greet the day”… That didn’t last long… I remember having a “heart to heart” with my dad about this habit (I was literally probably ten years old). My proposal was that if he would let me set my own alarm and wake up on my own that I would absolutely promise to be at “family devotions” on time, alert and ready to participate. My offer was that as soon as I was late, even ONCE, he could resume his barbaric ritual with no complaint from me. Knowing what I know now, I think it devastated and impressed him all at once… In fact, I think he liked greeting me every morning.

Growing up in my house, my mom was borderline fanatical about health and nutrition. We had to take this nutritional supplement called “Barley Green” which was basically dehydrated grass. We’d put two spoonfuls in about 6 ounces of apple juice and Irish car bomb it until it was gone. There were eight of us in the house so my dad would line up the cups biggest to smallest (mine was always number three because it was dad’s, mom’s (even though mom was older…never understood that one)), then me, then on down the line. My cup was always green.

I was always most efficient in the mornings. My goal was to complete all my assignments before lunch…and I often met that goal. My mom is a curriculum master and we tried everything. We even did ATIA curriculum which was basically a sacrifice of praise to the conservative Christian gods. We learned basic Greek, memorized HUGE portions of scripture (I had Matthew 5 and 6 memorized by the time I was 11), and had to read all sorts of books no one’s ever heard of.

I remember standardized testing. That’s what homeschoolers have to do to get credit for passing a grade. A certified teacher can either personally evaluate your progress or you can take the state standard exams (the one thing I did learn about the world “outside” was how to use scantrons…go figure). For most of elementary school we got evaluated by Mrs. Sellers. She drove a massive station wagon you could hear coming a mile away. But she was a nice lady.

When I got to fifth grade and beyond, however, standardized testing was the social event of the season. Central Florida has a ridiculous number of homeschoolers and they’d all come from their “little houses on the prairie” to come to testing. Seriously, homeschoolers are either dropouts or children of the corn. You either wore all black gothic regalia or clothes you handmade yourself for 4-H. Somehow, me and my siblings were somewhere in the middle…basically normal…but not really…because we were still homeschooled. My little extroverted self, however, couldn’t have been happier to do multiple choice tests which I passed consistently with flying colors (except Spelling and Reading Comprehension…those always got me) only to take breaks and experience the most celebrated of all traditional traditions: recess.

Oh. My. Gosh. Did you know that kids play for FUN!? Together?! E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y.?!?

It was seriously my favorite time of year. How sad is that…or precious? I can’t decide which.

My mom liked us being able to explore extracurriculars. We did a wilderness survival class where we built shelters out of dry brush and pine needles. We learned how to survive a plane crash in the ocean by jumping in the pool with all our clothes on and inflating them with air to stay afloat longer. I got to study Greek Mythology one semester which was also when I began my obsession with comic books…(lame…I know…) Apparently ancient Greece had their own nerds because that’s all basic Greek Mythology was… Ancient heroes and villains.

I got to try music. I played recorder (like the nice kinds…that you pay money for). I played piano, learned French Horn (but that was more in middle school). Oh, and going back to ancient Greece, we did a “world fair” one year and each had to research and present a country to the co-op (there were maybe 5 or so families participating). I picked Greece. I’m still not sure what happened, but I basically did no research or preparation at all…so out of character I know. But when it came down to my presentation…I bombed…like the worse bomb ever…like the kind where people on the front row are humiliated for you. Yep. That was a memory I never wanted to bring up again…awesome.

DONE

Prophetic Names: For Your Consideration

This has been such an amazing series to walk through with you all.  Meanings are one thing, but prophetic destiny is another.  Your name is more than just a description, it’s a responsibility, it’s an identity and it’s you.

For my last post in this series, I wanted to share with you some names that I haven’t come across from any of you but that I’ve found that I really liked.  It’s funny to hear a name that sounds old or maybe even sounds funny, but woven into its meaning is something so rich!

I wanted to share with you 10 names whose meanings I like and ones whose legacies I find deeply prophetic.

Donald – Don, Donny, Donnie

“one who is the leader of nations” or “world leader”

I find this name personally inspiring because of the calling I believe I have on my own life.  I’m inspired by the idea of having a big enough anointing, a significant enough destiny, and a specific enough purpose to touch not just a person or community but the entire world.

Wyatt

“guide”

I like the destiny wrapped up in this name.  It presumes wisdom (for how else will you take people through the journey?).  It presumes successful experiences (you must have completed your own journey to effectively take others through theirs).  It’s a name of noble purpose and responsibility.

Clive

“he who lives near the cliffs”

Maybe it’s because I’m on a “fear” kick right now, but I’m inspired by this name.  When I was in Ireland a few years ago I got to go to the Cliffs of Donagal.  They were magnificent and dangerous and majestic.  There’s something about cliffs that I find powerfully prophetic.  It’s only when we fling ourselves off the cliff that we discover if God really is trustworthy, if He is who He says He is.  This act of courage and trust changes our lives forever.  May we never venture too far away from the cliffs.

Carlton – Carl

“from the free man’s town”

I immediately thought of Fresh Prince of Bel Aire (don’t act like you didn’t too…) but when I came across this name I was struck by the meaning.  I actually tried to find names that had to do with freedom.  Many names had to do with victory, but not actually freedom.  It’s possible my line of work makes me sensitive to those in need of freedom, but if I were to prophesy a namesake over someone, Carlton (a “free man”) would be an admirable choice.

Teresa – Theresa, Terry, Terri, Teri, Reese, Reesa, Resa

“harvester”

I’ve found and even preached some consolation for ministry which is merely “planting seeds.”  What you’re usually saying is that you didn’t see much fruit but your endeavor still had value.  Planting seeds has its purpose, but the harvest is really what we all look forward to most!  I hope a woman with this namesake would find tremendous purpose in being a “harvester.”

Penelope – Penny, Nel, Nels

“weaver of dreams”

I feel like this name gets used as that name when you’re trying to think of a ridiculous name.  It’s got a funny cadence to it, yet when I saw its meaning, I gained a new level of respect.  I haven’t found a name that reflects this idea of weaving dreams.  It’s such a powerful name and admirable charge.  Our generation has forgotten how to dream.  We’re lazy and unmotivated.  We don’t know what to do or where to go or how to do it when we get there.  This name is a charge to begin dreaming again.

Gabriel – Gabe

“able bodied man” or “hero of God”

Not only is this meaning powerful (“hero of God” … really?!) but there’s also the namesake of an angel wrapped up in this name.  Gabriel was a messenger.  He was entrusted with the word of God.  He’s the one who appeared to Mary encouraging her to have faith and believe that the miraculous, the IMPOSSIBLE was about to happen.

Josiah – Joe, Si

“the Lord burns/the fire of the Lord” or “the Lord heals”

Names that have alternate meanings have actually been fairly common in my research.  However, I’ve tried to pray prophetically into how the meanings might be connected.  Here I see “cauterization” or healing by burning.  You cauterize a wound to stem the blood flow and to seal a breach.  The “fire” here I think can also mean what it did for the Biblical eight year old King in Scripture.  Josiah is one of the only kings in Israel or Judah to make a thunderous statement about righteousness.  The failures of past kings were remedied by this young man of conviction and he was blessed because of it.

Gideon

“he that bruises or breaks” or “the destroyer”

So maybe there’s a trend here in these last couple names, but I’ll admit I like the power contained within them!  Gideon was a mighty warrior.  You remember the story, he puts the fleece out to get a word from God (I actually see this as doing an injustice to his faith, he wouldn’t trust God’s word to his heart and he put God to the test) and once he receives his confirmation he systematically whittles down his fighting force to the original 300 (take that Hollywood) and wins this unbelievable battle.  Gideon overcame fear, he learned to trust impossible assignments from the Lord and he went out victorious in the face of certain failure.

Issachar – Char, Issa

“reward, recompense”

The meaning of this name is okay, but taking a prophetic look at this name has had me inspired for over a decade.  In 1 Chronicles 12:32 there is a description of men from the tribe of Issachar.  They are described as “men who knew and understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”  Wow…I love this.  I’ve actually prayed this blessing over my own life.  Just like Solomon whose only request of the Lord was wisdom was an entire group of leaders who were wise, savvy and whose counsel was sound and respected.

Just because I don’t want to leave any out, here were a few other names I liked:

Ronald / Reginald – advisor to the king

Case -bringer of peace

Aiden – fiery

Rhys – fiery

Neal/Neil – champion

Riley – valiant

Next week we’ll start something new.  Stay tuned!

Prophetic Names: Inspired

Out of all the blogs I have written, this series has been by far the most inspiring and received the most overwhelming response to any I’ve previously written.  Names are used in the natural to identify us as unique from other human beings, yet they are bestowed upon us, in my opinion, by the wisdom and graciousness of the Lord.

I’ve written many of you about my belief in the descriptive and redemptive qualities of your names.  But I hold a deep conviction that names carry responsibility.  For example, many of you have names referencing royalty or nobility and that’s not just a beautiful reminder of your identity, there’s a charge wrapped up in your namesake.

I wanted to spotlight three of your names that I’ve found rich in meaning and personally inspiring.  Abby, Kayla and Mac are three anointed individuals who have made incredible contributions to our world.  Woven in their namesake is a unique charge that I believe has prophetically impacted each of their lives.

Abigail Mishael Barnett

Abigail is a beautiful name of identity.  I’ve seen variations on the actual meaning but it always comes out something like this: “the Father’s joy.”  I find the broken homes, the fatherless households, the absent parental roles and even the distorted view of our heavenly Father greatly handicapping the progression of our generation toward our destinies.  There’s no mistake, however, the Father feels joy when He considers each and every one of His children.  “Abigail” is an inspiring reminder of our Father’s perspective and of our true identities.

Mishael is both rich in meaning and rich in heritage.  In the book of Daniel, Mishael was the Hebrew name of Meshach (remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?).  It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible as these three men stand up to Nebuchadnezzar and say “the LORD will deliver us from the fiery furnace, but even if He doesn’t we still will not bow and worship your gods.”  It’s one of the most brazen statements made by any character in Scripture.  Talk about faith!  Mishael means “one who is asked for or requested.”  There isn’t space here to do justice to this concept, but deep within each of us is a longing to be accepted and wanted.  “Mishael” reminds us that we are.

Barnett refers to “land cleared by burning.”  I find this picture beautifully redemptive.  Land that is cleared by burning is basically a sacrifice made for a greater good.  You’d clear a plot of land so you could plant crops, build a house, or even to tame the overgrowth and pave the way for new growth and rebirth.  It’s a harsh, barbaric process to the environment, but the outcome can produce life a hundred fold that specifically meets the needs of those who tend it after.

Macgregor Dean Mitchell

Macgregor is a derivative of “Gregory” which means “son of the watchman.”  Many European names in particular find their best heritage in medieval times.  The watchman was a military role.  He would stand at the wall of the castle and look off into the distance.  He’s always the first to spot things because he’s looking.  The watchman is a noble role and is the one to inform us of things to come.

Dean means “from the valley.”  Valleys are places you build cities.  They’re lush and have life.  They’re a stark contrast to your first name because you’d never build a city that needed defending in a valley.  It’s home.  It’s the life you protect.

Mitchell comes from “Michael” which is the only name I’ve ever come across that means a question: “who is like God?”  I hope when you hear your name you hear a question: “who is like God, Mac?”  I hope you scream from the inside “ME!  I AM!” because that’s your namesake and your identity.

Kayla Dawnn House

Kayla is a fascinating name to me.  It means “keeper of the keys.”  In everyday terms, this was probably a job title and the name was meant to describe the person whose responsibility it was to lock up each night.  However, Scripture talks about the keys to the kingdom. When I think of this name prophetically, there’s something so special to having the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  There’s a stewardship of the portals and paths, there’s an understanding (a deep one) of each unique environment that connects people with the Spirit of God (so how people connect to the kingdom) and there’s a responsibility to get people ushered toward the doors There’s an incredible ministry calling wrapped up in this name.

Dawnn means “awakening” (which is one of my favorite concepts).  Both in a personal sense, being “awakened” is critical to each of our personal development.  But the responsibility to wake up a generation is a noble, admirable charge!  We scream from the rooftops to shake people out of apathy and into movement!  It’s time to wake up!

House is a family name meaning “owner of the manor.”  With so many surnames referring to roles within the house (Butler or Cook for example) the owner is a special role, and it’s a role of leadership.  Stewardship is woven deeply within the roots of this whole name and it inspires me!

 

I write this post because I want to charge each of you to consider names you may pass on to children you may raise.  Choose well for it might change the course of history to do so!

In my next post, which will be my last for now on this series, I have some recommendations for you.  There are some names I’ve come across that I’ve not received requests for that you all should consider.