20 Oct


Editor’s note: Mental health and wellbeing is sometimes overlooked in Christian circles, being aware of it through is vital to ministry. God has created us unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of the different personality traits can help us share the gospel with others more effectively.

By Chris Morris — “Point out anything in me that offends you.” These heartfelt words from David suggest his recognition of a common challenge among humans–the lack of self-awareness.  Though we are in our own skin 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it does not mean we are fully and consistently mindful of our shortcomings (or our strengths, for that matter). If we are honest, we have various areas of our personality and/or character that are blind spots to us.

The Enneagram* is a personality typing tool that describes nine different personality types.  Unlike most other personality typing systems, the Enneagram focuses on inner motivations more so than external behaviors. Thus, the Enneagram can be used to facilitate a journey to greater self-awareness.

Greater self-awareness enables us to embark upon a more thorough surrender of our hearts to the Spirit.

If you discover you are a Reformer, or Type 1, you are driven by the need to be right, to be good, to show integrity, to be fair. When living in the flesh, you may unhealthily pursue perfection in your life. When living by the Spirit, you trade living for your perfection for living from Christ’s perfection.

If you find that you are a Helper, or Type 2, your inner motivations include being loved, being appreciated, and being needed. When living in the flesh, you may pursue acceptance in an unhealthy manner. When living by the Spirit, you stop living for your acceptance and start living from Christ’s acceptance.

If you realize you are an Achiever, or Type 3, you are driven by the need to be admired, to be valued, and to be successful.  When living in the flesh, you pursue success at almost all costs.  When living by the Spirit, you trade living for your success for living from Christ’s success.

If you identify as an Individualist or Type 4, your inner motivations include being authentic, being unique, and being expressive in your own way. When living in the flesh, you are obsessed with determining your significance. When living by the Spirit, you stop living for your significance and start living from Christ’s significance.

If you learn that you are an Investigator, or Type 5, you are driven by the need to be competent, to be capable, and to be self-sufficient. When living in the flesh, you tend to trust your own wisdom. When living by the Spirit, you live, not for your wisdom, but from Christ’s wisdom.

If you find that you are a Guardian, or Type 6, then your inner motivations include the need to be certain, to be safe, and to be supported. When living in the flesh, you can fixate on your security. When living in the Spirit, you live not for your security, but from Christ’s security.

If it is revealed that you are an Enthusiast, or Type 7, then you are driven by a need to be happy, to be content, and to be unrestrained. When living in the flesh, you search for joy in various sources. When living by the Spirit, you do not live for your joy, but from Christ’s joy.

If you discover that you are a Challenger or Type 8, then your inner motivations include being strong, being independent, and being protected. When living in the flesh, you tend to live from your strength. When living by the Spirit, you learn to live from Christ’s strength.

Finally, if you find that you are a Peacemaker, or Type 9, then you are driven by a need for harmony, a need to be at peace, and a need to be comfortable. When living in the flesh, you can avoid conflict in order to find peace. When living by the Spirit, you do not live for your peace but from Christ’s peace.

Paul says in Romans 8:12-13, “So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”.

The Enneagram is not the gospel. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection applied to our lives through the Holy Spirit is the true gospel. But the Enneagram can go a long way in increasing your self-awareness, enhancing your experience of surrender to Christ, fully moving from life in the flesh to life in the Spirit.

–Chris Morris is the associate pastor at Littleton Adventist Church; email him at [email protected]; feature photo by pixabay, bottom photo supplied.

* The Enneagram according to Wikipedia is “The Enneagram of Personality, or simply the Enneagram (from the Greek words ἐννέα [ennéa, meaning “nine”] and γράμμα [grámma, meaning something “written” or “drawn”), is a model of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. A free Enneagram test can be taken at https://www.gospelenneagram.com/ to discover your Enneagram type.

18 Jan


By Chris Morris …“Hey Chris, you should put your name in the hat to be considered for our lead pastor position.”  I was an elder at a small and wonderful church in Phoenix. The pastor of the church had announced that he was moving on to a different calling. After that specific worship service, a fellow elder approached me with that declaration.

I was in shock! I had been a high school math teacher for 16 years. Teaching was all I knew. While I loved preaching and connecting with people, I had no training or passion (so I thought) to be a pastor.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” I responded. I assumed that would be the end of it. Instead, the church persisted in letting me know that they wanted me to consider the position. And I persisted in denying the invitation.

Not long after that worship service, a conference official shared that he would be willing to pastor the church for a year, and invited me to be his associate pastor during that time while continuing my teaching. He said after that year, if I decided I wanted to remain in teaching, so be it. If, however, I found my calling was to the ministry, the church was mine to shepherd.

At this point, I knew this was a call from God. After prayerful consideration, I accepted the call to be the associate pastor. A year later, I was installed as the lead pastor. On the evening of the first Sabbath as lead pastor, I recall sitting in my bedroom with this feeling of emotional awe washing over me. A predominantly Caucasian Seventh-day Adventist congregation chose me, an African-American, to be their lead pastor? While I’m sure this wasn’t a first, I had never personally seen, heard, or experienced this before. For me, right there in that moment, a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote came to mind. “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That Phoenix church judged me by my character, not my skin color. It was a personal glimpse of MLK’s dream in my life.

It’s a dream that must persist beyond glimpses and arrive at full-on actualization, everywhere.  It’s a dream that really wasn’t MLK’s to begin with. Galatians 3:27-28 says, “For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This was God’s intention for man and was Jesus mission among man all along. Through Apostle Paul, God chose his church as the people who would live out the principles of equality, justice, and unity in a world that more times than not reflects hierarchy, injustice, and division.

In 2021, we must acknowledge that we have not arrived. As God’s people, we have a special calling and privilege to continue the mission of Jesus Christ and of Martin Luther King, Jr. “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.”

–Chris Morris is associate pastor of Littleton church; photo courtesy of Chris Morris’ Facebook.

09 Jul

Before you pick up the stone . . .

By Chris Morris . . . “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

These were Jesus’ words in response to the Pharisees in their desire to punish an adulterous woman while simultaneously discrediting Him.

Here’s the thing, though.  Technically, Jesus was obligated to condone the stoning of the adulterous woman.  Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 both delineate the God-given consequences for committing adultery. Why doesn’t he do so?

The story is told of a 3rd grade class on the first day of school. The bell rang to begin the day and students began to file into the classroom. One student was a very nervous girl. She was quiet and her limbs were trembling with anxiety. She found a seat in the back of the classroom. A few moments later, another student walked confidently into the classroom and sat down next to the nervous girl.  After a quick glance at the girl and her desk, this boy suddenly ran out of the room, only to return with a large cup of water.  The boy took the cup of water and doused the nervous girl.

The teacher immediately called the boy up to her desk and asked him why he did such a cruel thing. The boy remained silent.  After several more unsuccessful inquiries, the boy was sent to the principal’s office.  Ultimately, he was suspended from school for three days for his actions.

When the boy returned to school, his teacher paid close attention to his behavior. To her surprise, over the next few months, this boy was a model student. His grades were exceptional. He would volunteer to help the teacher at every opportunity.  He would even model conflict resolution skills on the playground when other students had arguments or fights.

One day, the teacher could no longer quiet her curiosity. She called this boy to her desk and asked him why he did what he did on the first day of school. The boy dropped his head, slumped his shoulders, and remained quiet.  The teacher assured him that he had already paid the penalty for the terrible behavior and that he would not receive another punishment. The boy shared with the teacher that he had noticed how nervous the girl who sat next to him was on the first day of school. In fact, he noticed she was so nervous that there was a puddle of urine underneath her desk. The girl had so much anxiety that she didn’t make it to the restroom. The boy stated that he knew this girl would be made fun of by the other students if they saw what he saw.  So, he decided to run out of the classroom, grab a cup of water, and douse the girl.  The teacher was astonished. The boy was willing to take the punishment for pouring water on the girl so that she would not be the target of mockery and ridicule.

Jesus didn’t condone the stoning of the woman for one reason and one reason only.  He had come to take the “stoning” for her.  Not only hers, but ours as well.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” [2 Corinthians 5:21].

–Chris Morris is associate pastor for worship, youth and visitation at Littleton, Colorado church.