Enneagram 3 (and in youth ministry)


  • Find yourself doing things for attention
  • Over-commit to things because you want to please other people
  • Become obsessive about being the best at whatever you do
  • Have a hard time sharing the spotlight with others
  • If you find out someone is better at something than you, get jealous or possibly just quit doing that thing
  • Try to relate to everybody, even if you don’t really relate to them, just so that they will think well of you
  • Seem confident on the outside, but on the inside are unsure or question yourself ALL.THE.TIME.
  • Have a hard time making friends because you can’t let your guard down; there are very few people who know the real you
  • Your love language is words of acclamation and adoration: You need to know the reasons WHY people love you so you can do/be more of that

If so then you, like me, may be an Enneagram type 3: The Performer. When reading Ian Cron’s book “The Road Back to You,” at first I thought I was a type 1: The Perfectionist (even my husband thought so)… until I read the description of a type 3. While both 1s and 3s are highly motivated, highly critical of themselves, and want to be the best, it all comes down to motivation. Perfectionists type 1s have an internal need to meet their own measuring stick. Performer type 3s, however, are seeking the love of others. So it is quite easy to confuse the them, but ask yourself: Do I strive to be perfect because nothing less is acceptable, or do I strive to be perfect because that is what others expected of me? Am I the best because I have to be the best to make myself happy, or do I have to be the best so that others will love/respect/respect me?

You see how the difference is only slight, but important. You may, like me, have had a difficult time defining the difference between the two. And when God calls a person who is a 3 into ministry, there are several challenges. Here’s how my being a 3 interacts with my ministry:


If you are a 3 like me, you may also be a jack-of-all trades. I learn skills quickly and (somewhat) competently so that I can please other people. Sure, I can lead worship. I’m also good at graphics and media. Oh, and by the way, I can also teach any age level; just tell me what subject. You need someone who can organize an amazing event? Then I’m your gal! I can be whatever you want or are looking for. (Remember, I’m a performer and my self-worth is tied to how much you think of me, so I’ll do anything to earn that).

But being good -or at least proficient- at a lot of things means that I likely will take on more tasks. And, of course, I hate to disappoint people, so I hardly ever say no. That means there are more projects that I am involved in, there is more for me to do, and I can easily find my well-meaning self overwhelmed. While I know I’ve overcommitted myself, I also struggle with ​not​ doing things. After all, I ​like​ doing what I do– and I feel called to do it! Besides, I don’t want to let other people down. (*This also lends to the tendency that I allow myself to be taken advantage of, that I negotiate poorly in employment situations, or that I take on new roles without getting a raise in compensation– beware of that! But that is another post entirely…) My life is constantly in “Go-Mode.” I can’t ​not ​work. It feels impossible. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. It’s really hard not to equate my identity with my role. My self-worth is very tied up with what I do; I am the job. I AM a pastor. Without that title, I would be very lost. Vacations are difficult to take, when I’m home I’m still working, and sometimes –if I’m really honest– I just don’t know how to stop. Sound familiar, fellow 3’s? I thought so.


I have to keep telling myself, “You are not what you do. You are not what you do. You are ​not​ what you do!!” I know you’ve probably heard the saying, “It isn’t about ​who​ you are, but about ​whose ​you are.” Yes! That’s true! When all of my titles, roles, jobs, expectations, and achievements are stripped away, I should know who I am. I am the beloved of the King. He loved me before –and without– all that other stuff.

Isaiah 43:1 – But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (NIV)


Image result for michael scott youtube

Even though I am a great multi-tasker (I have to be!!), I want to be the ​best.​ I want to impress. So that pushes me to pursue things at an unhealthy level. For example, in my attempt to disconnect from work and find a hobby to “create margin” in my life, I have tried extreme couponing, exercise, and oil painting. I am/have been awesome at all of those things… until it’s consuming me.

I was so good at extreme couponing that Walmart literally paid me $35.78 to take a bunch of Tide detergent off of their hands. I would frequently save 80-90% on regular grocery shopping trips (but I won’t mention to you how in order to save $147, I spent $50 on coupons and 12+ hours pouring over online coupon match-ups and store sale flyers every week). I am also the person who won the $100 cash pot in a workout competition by doing every challenge, meal-prepping for my family of 6, doing 2-a-day workouts, and posting progress pics on social media (but I won’t tell you how I gave myself a hernia, worked-out while sick causing me to develop pneumonia and subsequently miss 2 weeks of work and pay $300 in unexpected medical bills).

I also am the person who decided to try a leisurely activity and began painting to Bob Ross videos. After posting finished works on social media, I gladly accepted invitations to photograph my work for a friend’s art and poetry book and agreed upon request to offer painting activities at church for both my youth and the women’s ministry group (but I won’t tell you have I spent over $500 in two weeks on paint, canvases, drop cloths, brushes, cleaner, and easels -OR how I began selling plasma to support my new craft addiction). Whew! It’s a good thing I don’t have toxic addictive behaviors. Heaven help me if I were ever to try drugs, drink alcohol, or begin viewing pornography. I can only imagine how my obsessive tendencies would become self-destructive.

Now, in ministry, it can also make for an unhealthy work dynamic. I already discussed how as a 3 I have workaholic tendencies because I’m a people pleaser. But in ministry I can also become obsessive with ministry itself: I push myself to be the best pastor, have the coolest youth program, the most inspiring worship experiences, speak the best sermons…. You do see where I’m going with this, right? Ministry can easily become my addiction, and it’s a challenge to simply just be with God, just be with my volunteers, and just be with my students.


Rest. I know you won’t know what to do with yourself. The temptation to be obsessive in your spiritual endeavors will be there; but God won’t love you more whether you spend 10 minutes a day in study, or 90. Don’t try to challenge Richard J. Foster to a spiritual discipline throw-down. You’ll turn yourself into a Pharisee. Just be still. Just rest in Him.

Matthew 11:29 – Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


Being a pastor automatically puts me on a pedestal in some people’s eyes. Not gonna lie: the accolades and honors are nice. The admiration of other people is addictive. It feels good to know that people think well of you. There is this stigma that I must be really holy, or some type of super-Christian to be a pastor… right? And it’s easy to pretend that I am! Especially since I have no real vices to speak of. But the danger is that there are times when I start to believe that I really am that awesome. I can easily become haughty, condescending, or act better than other people. What a fool that makes me! It’s sometimes a challenge to be real with people. I don’t want them to think less of me, but I also want the acceptance that comes with being a leader. I have this deep desire to invest in students, to make God known to them, and to be a godly mentor. But when they tell me I’m the best youth pastor ever or “the most awesome person in the universe” (real compliment I received, btw– it’s written on a styrofoam plate and hanging in my office as you read this), that presents a problem because my light is not shining where it should. The struggle is real for 3s!


This show isn’t about me. I need to remember that glory, honor, and praise belongs to God alone. I am just lucky he lets me be part of what He’s doing. If I am known for pointing others towards Him, that should be good enough for me. Psalm 18:27 – You save the humble but bring low those whose are are haughty. (NIV)


Image result for michael scott i have no idea what i'm doing

Was it honestly the BEST. YOUTH. TRIP. EVER. ?? It in all honesty probably wasn’t, but I’ll make it sound like it was and give you the highlight reel. No, wait- I’ll make a video presentation of all the best parts. But I’ll leave out the car ride where a kid got diarrhea, or that we lost electricity 3 different days, had no AC in 90 degree weather, and had a student go AWOL… unless we’re trading horror stories. Then you’ll hear all about it (and maybe even a few details I left out here just to make it sound better/worse than it really was). I’d be glad to tell you all about that time I ran the Green Room for the Digital Age at our denomination’s state youth convention. I’ll gladly tell you how they were totally chill and only wanted a bunch of sandwich toppings and a Foreman grill so they could make paninis and grilled cheese. But maybe I’ll forget to tell you that I didn’t even talk to them except to ask if they needed anything else. In my world, suddenly 2 become 4, and 6 become 10 when speaking about numbers. (Church numbers much?) I don’t ​mean t​ o exaggerate… it just slips out once in a while.


It really is that simple. ​Don’t​ fake it til you make it. People see through that. Just be honest and real. That’s much better, believe me. After all, Revelation 21:8- liars go to Hell. Burn, burn, burn! (Please tell me you sang that song as a kid growing up in your youth group? If not, call me and I will teach it to you.)
Proverbs 12:22 – The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful.


I don’t like being blamed for things. Especially when I tried my hardest. I’ve worked in environments where if something went wrong, you had to justify yourself and prove you didn’t do it. There was a culture of passing the buck and not taking responsibility. As a people-pleaser, that was toxic for me. When I finally moved on to healthier work environments, I still found myself trying to measure up. And some people have impossible standards.

For instance, I came to a new church where they did a fundraiser each year of “mailing” Christmas cards to one another through a mailbox set up outside the sanctuary. Members would pay 10¢a card for students to deliver them to other members. My second year in, I simultaneously started seminary, had my mother have a double liver/kidney transplant, and began dealing with a close family member’s substance addiction. Not to mention trying to balance my family of 6 with normal youth ministry life full of camps, conventions, managing volunteers, late night student calls, etc. I barely was able to make it through teaching each week because I was an exhausted, emotional mess. Well, guess what? I forgot to put the mailbox out for the fundraiser until the week of Christmas. A congregation member who I hadn’t even met sent me a card telling me that I was setting a bad example for our students because I was doing what I wanted and not thinking about the church– and where would we be if Jesus only thought about Himself?! It was hurtful, it was mean, and it made me cry. A lot. But it just goes to show that there are times when it doesn’t matter how hard I work that I will have someone complain. It is absolutely impossible to make every single person happy. Criticism is hard. It often feels like I am never good enough. It feels like maybe if I could do better, be better, or be like someone else who is admired, I would finally make other people happy. (Just tell me what you want from me!!)


My former boss always reminded me to, “Eat the fish, but spit out the bones.” Turns out, his old boss told him that too. There is definitely something to be said about taking the useful part of a suggestion and forgetting the rest. I’ve learned that criticism is an opportunity for evaluation and assessment. Instead of just saying, “Hey! The night went horribly!” I need to ask helpful questions such as: What went well? What

didn’t go well? Why? What needs to change? What can be improved upon or made better? How can I best do that? What will this look like in the future? See– helpful questions can lead to healthy outcomes, goal-setting, and wins for my church and ministry. Instead of internalizing criticism, I can use it to become better. And sometimes– the negative things that are said tell more about the person who said them than it does about me.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

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1 thought on “Enneagram 3 (and in youth ministry)

  1. Rachel, this is so helpful! I am a 3 or a 1 in denial and I keep having an identity crisis as I work to figure out my motivations, core wounds, and all the things…

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