Enneagram 5 (and in youth ministry)

I am a Five on the enneagram. Fives are known for their knowledge seeking and tend to be more observers than anything else. I would also wager that fives are one of the most confused groups in the Enneagram. The majority of fives are introverts, yet when under stress become a seven (high functioning, life of the party-types). This leads us to be often misunderstood when it comes to how we so desperately need to recharge, especially from the outside world.

Need for rest

As a five we are in need of rest regularly. The healthiest fives are able to set up their days to allow for a specific amount of time they need to themselves. Personally, I have two young boys, so I am the “weird” youth leader that gets up in the wee hours of the morning with my coffee, my Bible and a quiet house. The quiet house allows me to settle my mind in preparations for the day. A five (when healthy), when they know their week is going to be chaotic is able to establish time where they can recover before they find the need to recover. For example: my boys’ lives are hectic, they are both hockey players, we have done 4-H, church functions and my husband is great but works 50+ hours a week. This leads to many nights of chaos. One such week happened the last full week in October. We had a meeting on Monday, Tuesday we were home, Wednesday church night, Thursday a STEM night at school, Friday a church event, Saturday a 5K, hockey fittings, and a 4-H party, Sunday was the first night of hockey. By Monday we were going to be pulling out our hair if, looking at the calendar, we had been careless about finding rest. That Tuesday that we were “free” my oldest requested to go to the PTO bingo night with his cousins and friends. His mean mom had to tell him “no.”

This is true for youth ministry as well. When planning out events, lessons, etc. it is key for a five, more than any other number to look not only at the events planned but also the time commitments that they will require. There are some weeks that will be extremely chaotic, mission trip weeks, Holy Week, the entire Advent season, to name a few, but these have the ability to be less stress inducing if a five schedules time to be away. I have found it utterly important to schedule time off during these busy seasons or directly after them. I am off the week between Christmas Eve and New Years Day every year as a time of respite with my kids, my husband, and our family. This is great to be with them, but it is so key for me to enjoy a good book or extra sleep.

Knowledge is currency

A five strives to understand the world around them. They strive to know everything there is to know. This can make them extremely impactful in the reaching others for two main reasons. The first of these seems fairly obvious (well I’m a five so maybe not for everyone) it is our desire to understand scripture to the best of our ability. Learning and gleaning more information of who Jesus was, what He taught, how He lived, etc. This is important when teaching about scripture that you know said scripture. The second is that we long to know more, we don’t like small talk so fives when having a conversation tend to want to know the real stuff. We don’t want to hear the surface level information that is often shared in conversations, we want to know what makes you tick, what has led you to be where you are today.

Now fives strive for this, but it is important that if a five is opening up and sharing that knowledge they are being extremely vulnerable. Fives are deeply nervous about not being correct in their research both of the world around them and of themselves. If we start sharing our information that we have gleaned on a subject with you, that means we have found trust in you. Likewise, if we begin to open up and share about ourselves, then we feel that you have earned the right to know (see what I did there) about us. That you have proven yourself worthy of learning about us.

**One thing to be cautious about, as fives when we are under stress become sevens. In becoming sevens, we often have the ability to manipulate the situation where it appears that we are opening up, when in reality we have found some “information” about ourselves that appears vulnerable but really, we are not burdened by it. For true information on who we are and why we are who we are, stick around…the vulnerability shows up I promise you that.

Observation is key

Observation is the way the world works for a five. This comes in handy as I’m watching the world of youth ministry. It comes in key as I drive “minding my own business” and hear who is dating whom or what they think about the world. It comes in key when I watch youth night unfolding and see the student who is left out, or something going on that shouldn’t be. Fives have a unique perspective and the ability to see things in an environment where others miss it. If you are not a five (and there aren’t many of us out here) I strongly suggest having a five on volunteer staff to be an observer.

In health….

In a healthy five’s life, we are able to be involved in many things. Youth ministry is not an area that we cannot be. A healthy five will be able to set boundaries on when and where they serve and allow themselves a chance to step back and recharge. In health a five will observe, study and then share the information that they have gathered with others. When a five is at rest they become an eight which are fantastic leaders. They are able to guide their crew in whatever venture that they start. I have found in my decade career that as a healthy five it is also communicating with the students. They are able to handle it. Before I leave on a mission trip, I pull my student leaders and my adult leaders aside and explain that one afternoon on said trip, I will be just away (not off the premises, just laying down) to recover from the extra busyness of the week. I have found that students and adults respect that and understand that need.

When not healthy a five becomes a hoarder of information, where they are learning more information and not sharing any. They also tend to build bigger walls to get past on their own information and they take on the nasty characteristics of an eight, bossy, controlling etc.

How can you interact with a five?

I think the biggest thing that you can do to interact with a five is first be present. It is important for a five to realize that you are there for the long haul, not just to get your information and leave. The second is to not negate their need to recover. Don’t downplay their introvert-ness because you have seen them in atmospheres where they have to tap into their seven personalities. Finally, love them. I think as a five who sometimes sits in her head and over-thinks a situation and how she should have said something, how I wish others would have responded, etc. it is key for me to feel the love of those around me. 

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