Enneagram 6 (and in youth ministry)

As youth ministry leaders, we can use the Enneagram to better understand the needs of our volunteers. The health of our ministries is largely determined by how engaged our volunteers are, and it’s important to understand that each volunteer needs something different in order to fully engage. Enneagram Sixes specifically thrive in ministries that value trust, support, and stability. Let’s take a look at some unique benefits and challenges that go hand in hand with each of these values, and what we can do about them.

Trust

The Enneagram Institute refers to Sixes as the “Loyalists,” citing their strong loyalty to their beliefs and friends as the reason for the nickname.

THE BENEFIT:

If you earn their trust, Sixes will be unwavering advocates for your ministry. They will stick around even when ministry isn’t easy or glamorous.

THE CHALLENGE:

Sixes have a tendency to be skeptical of new people and ideas, and there will be times when their loyalty will cause them to be stubborn or resistant to change.

NEXT STEPS:

  • Ask yourself if you’re practicing what you preach; work hard to earn and maintain trust through consistency, authenticity, and humility.
  • Have grace with their skepticism, and resist the temptation to take it personally.
  • Be clear about your reasons for making changes to the way the ministry operates, and remain genuinely open to feedback.

Support

According the the Enneagram Institute, a Six’s most intrinsic fear is of being without guidance or support.

THE BENEFIT:

When Sixes feel supported, they will take true ownership of their role in the ministry and excel at finding creative ways to solve problems and improve existing systems.

THE CHALLENGE:

When Sixes don’t feel supported, they will quickly become overwhelmed, apathetic, or frustrated, all of which can easily be mistaken for laziness.

NEXT STEPS

  • Provide written, specific job descriptions describing expectations for each volunteer’s role.
  • Schedule intentional check-ins with each volunteer to discuss questions, concerns, successes, and new ideas.
  • Provide clear guidance and next steps to help them accomplish their goals.
  • Offer regular volunteer training opportunities.

Stability

Sixes like to know what to expect before entering a scenario so they can analyze potential risks and prepare accordingly.

THE BENEFIT:

Sixes are your best line of defense for averting crises. When they know what to expect, they’ll be the ones creating checklists and contingency plans to ensure everything runs smoothly.

THE CHALLENGE:

Sixes are prone to anxiety when in situations with ambiguity surrounding either their role or proper protocol.

NEXT STEPS:

  • Brief your volunteers on what to expect before events or trips.
  • Create written procedures for addressing potentially ambiguous scenarios (i.e. disciplining a teenager on a trip, protocol for administering first aid, etc). If this isn’t a strength of yours, consider enlisting a Six to help create these procedures!
  • Intentionally avoid the temptation to see Sixes as “fun ruiners” who swoop in with rules and procedures. Instead, reframe your perspective to see them as “fun protectors” who install the guard rails and safety nets necessary to keep fun experiences from crashing and burning.
  • Use active listening when a Six is expressing concerns they have. Seek first to understand, and avoid being dismissive.

The hard work, trustworthiness, and organization that Sixes bring to the table makes them truly valuable members of any ministry team. If we create environments that foster trust, support, and stability, we’ll set the Sixes on our teams up to win as they use their God-given gifts to minister to the teenagers in our communities. For more information on Sixes or the Enneagram, check out the Enneagram Institute here!

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