What’s Next Enneagram Seven?
28. 28 is the number of jobs I have had in my lifetime. Truth…there are more, I just stopped counting at 28. As an enneagram 7 each job ended due to the anticipation of what’s next.
Impulsive 7s react to “What’s next?”
My first job was at a candy shop in the mall. It smelled amazing coming into the store each day; fragrant gummy peaches mixed with buttery popcorn tinged with nut covered chocolate perfumed with caramel warming in the melter awaiting bathing apples. It was a super fun job especially when there were “broken” candies.
During the Easter season, I was asked to scribe children’s names on giant chocolate eggs. “Sure! I can do it!” was my impulsive reply. It did not take long to realize the handwriting of a 16-year-old, ok-my handwriting, did not warrant the extra 2 bucks for a personalized hollow egg. I ruined so much product and gave a few refunds. Quickly, I panic called my mom; she bailed me out (not the first time) with her beautiful script and steady hand. Customers were happy, but in this moment, the job became bitter, losing its sweetness.
I would like to say this was the last time I looked for an escape when things got tough, but I would be lying. If a job stopped engaging or lacked interest, it was time to move on. Most of the time it was conflict which chased me from job to job. Never fired, just found something “more exciting”.
7s have been known to avoid conflict-even run from it. Guilty. 28 times guilty.
A busy mind hungers for “What’s next?”
Higher education was where I felt most alive! There were so many different classes, degrees, and pathways to pique interest and stimulate curiosity. Such variety I felt like a kid in the old candy shop. So many subjects-everything from counseling, to interior design, to art, to creative writing. I ended up going to community college four years in a row, full time, to receive a two year degree. Then after 10 years, I went back to University with two kiddos in tow for another couple of years.
Changing courses of study so many times was not only inconsistent, it was also a drain on our finances; stressing an already stretched marriage due to shifting interests. But I always said, “There is no wasted education as long as you’re learning something new!”
The “7”s root sin is gluttony. The insatiability of ingesting knowledge can be rewarding and even transformational, until it borders on info-besity.
Indecisive 7s query “What’s Next?”
I was not sure where I would fit in volunteering at church. Being painfully aware of a past track record of inconsistency and issues of sudden impulsive flight when it came to commitment or conflict, I feared letting people down. Worry hovered on mind; what if I did not find success in the ministry or didn’t find excitement in the position, or worse-what if there was a personality conflict? I gravitated toward one time serve opportunities and projects which could sustain my interest for a season and then were done.
Finding success in these smaller serves, I found connection with people in our community as well as with staff and other volunteers. God called me deeper into ministry and began to fill the space, some call it a void, which only can be filled when serving others. Becoming enveloped into a family working within their giftings, I was also able to offer something to kingdom work, even though the “7ness” of the impulsive, inconsistent, restless, distracted self still scanned for “what’s next.”
The “7”s primary fear is to be trapped or deprived. What if something more interesting comes along? What if there is another opportunity to help someone in with this? The urge to run away from commitment contributes to distraction as well as escape.
7s, pray about “What’s Next”
Since digging deeper into the Enneagram, I have learned about how I have adapted to the world around me, the difference between the adapted self and the authentic self. The authentic self is God’s unique wiring. The adapted self are the somewhat consistent patterns of how we react to situations. What has been transformational learning about the attributes of an Enneagram 7, has been learning how to pray for God to help me stop, pray, and listen. This is an ongoing and often failing discipline, I admit. But sometimes, sometimes, I find myself stopping, becoming truly present, listening for God’s voice. It is only then am I able to change those adapted, knee jerk, impulsive responses.
“Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7
Lights! Camera! What’s next?
The 7 is a head type…sometimes a head case, as I am sure my husband and family can attest. Being a head type, thought life is active and central to how we 7s adapt to the world. But staying in the savory imagination does not easily lend for connection with compassion action of the heart. Ingesting books, studying about conflict, does not engage with the progressive action of the gut.
Paul says in 2Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
At the beginning of the Enneagram series, we were asked, “How will you pray during the next few weeks?” I am praying for God to help us 7s recognize when our thoughts revolve around “What’s Next?” Instead, I hope to take the thought “captive”, changing it to “Refine what is.” My prayer is God will prompt us 7s to find engagement, excitement, and vision in refining what already exists. Consistency is not a trap; it is an opportunity to become better. Consistency is how he shapes us, “I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold.” God says in Zachariah 13:9.
In the book “Self to Lose, Self to Find,” Marilyn Vancil shines a beautiful light on the 7. She writes about the divine gift of the Enthusiast being the reflection of God’s joy and abundance (Redemption Press, 2016 p.125). My hope for “What’s Next” is finding composed joy and satisfaction-to savor the flavor of life. To chew slowly and make life last, choosing contentment over excitement, waiting on Jesus to direct “What’s Next”.