Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Carey Neiuwhof: 5 Surprising Truths About the Enneagram Tritype Test

Carey Neiuwhof: 5 Surprising Truths About the Enneagram Tritype Test

Why does all of this matter? It’s simple.

Self-aware leaders are always better leaders, and the Enneagram tritype test will help you see yourself as others experience you.

Example: Since I was a teenager, people have told me they find me intimidating, and that when I walk into a room I tend to take it over, which has always puzzled me. It’s not a question of losing my temper or anything. In fact, often I don’t even have to say a word. Apparently, I just need to stand there and say hello and people feel intimidated or like I’m the one in control. Meanwhile, I see myself as pretty average, friendly and normal.

Guess what? That’s a classic characteristic of an Eight, and there are strategies to help you overcome being intimidating.

Which, of course, really helps if you’re trying to lead and motivate a team, let alone stay happily married and raise kids.

So what surprised me most about the Enneagram?

Almost no one I talked to about the Enneagram tritype test mentioned the very real spiritual or emotional health component of the Enneagram; the conversation was more of a numbers game (I’m a 7…are you a 3)?

And yet as I’ve worked through the material, it seems to me that your spiritual and emotional health determine far more than you think.

In fact, if you want to grow, your level of health is the key. Every Enneagram has healthy and unhealthy manifestations. Cron and Stabile do a great job fleshing this out in their book, but it seems to be missing in much of the dialogue. To me, it was the most impactful part of my learning around the Enneagram.

5 Surprising Truths About the Enneagram


Each Enneagram Type (including yours) can manifest itself in three principal ways: healthy, average or unhealthy.

So why does the matter?

Simple: The difference between an emotionally and spiritually healthy leader and an unhealthy one is the difference between awesome and awful.

Want to know how big a difference?

Martin Luther King Jr. and Josef Stalin were both Eights.

Same Enneagram. Completely different legacies.

The difference? Their emotional and spiritual health.

You can fight for freedom, inspire a nation and leverage your influence for good, or you can live completely paranoid and order the death of millions (some think Stalin may have killed as many or people than Hitler).

As I’ve looked back on my leadership journey (a story I tell in my new book, Didn’t See It Coming), I write about battling against cynicism, pride, compromise and so many other challenges that stunt your growth as a leader or take you out as a leader.

As I’ve become a more emotionally and spiritually healthy leader over the years (and it’s a life-long journey), the upside of my Eight is leveraged far more than it was when I was a younger a less spiritually and emotionally mature Eight.

And I realize now more than ever that when people experience the unhealthy side of my Eight (being too blunt, aggressive, angry and domineering, for example), it’s a sign I need to immediately work on my spiritual and emotional health.

The true potential you have as a leader is not determined by your gifting, it’s determined by your health.

So get healthy.


There is no perfect personality type. People love Sevens (they’re the life of every party) and Threes (amazing public speakers and CEOs) and Twos (who doesn’t love the person who always helps?), but underneath every wiring is a wound.

Christian leaders shouldn’t be surprised by this at all, because somehow everything we do in this life is impacted by sin. It’s why the helper becomes the enabler and can become so passive aggressive. It’s why Threes feel so insecure and might lie or deceive to make others believe they’re better than they are. It’s why Sevens will do almost anything to avoid pain and are often prone to addictions and self-pity.