Jeff Erbskorn, enneagram teacher, leadership coach and pastor

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I enjoy helping organizations, leaders and individuals communicate more effectively utilizing a tool called the enneagram. I can help you listen to the way others speak and tailor your speech to the way they listen. The enneagram has been used by 72 companies  (including Avon, Best Buy, Daimler/ Mitsubishi, Parker Hinneafen and Toyota) from more than 20 countries spanning 5 continents. It suggests that our life is made up of nine "folders" or "portfolios" that we can open at any given time, but that we habitually choose one over the others to expresses ourselves. It is likely that your particular portfolio has opened up many doors to you.  Yet at the same time an over investment in the thoughts, emotions and behaviors contained within your portfolio has likely shut many as well. You want to reach as many people as you can.  You want to reach into their head and their heart.  You want them to sense and understand deep in their gut that what you have to offer is what they need.  Some you will reach easily with the gifts, strengths and competencies within your own portfolio, your own style of speaking and being in the world.  And yet others will miss out for the reason that you were simply not speaking their language.  You missed or miss heard what they were saying.  They will frustrate you or be frustrated by you, and both of you will lose out. I can help.

As you seek to grow and change let me guide you to a deeper understanding of yourself and others through the Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles.  You will learn to "speak to their listening" and "listen to the way they speak.”

I am a trained Healthy Congregations workshop facilitator and a certified leadership coach within the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America through Coachnet Global.  I became certified to teach the enneagram in 2012 and in 2017 completed advanced certification training within the same program (Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles Certification Program).  My teacher, Dr. Jerry Wagner, was among the earliest students of the enneagram in the US, being taught by Robert Ochs, a Jesuit Priest and professor at Loyola University Chicago, who studied with Claudio Naranjo (the first person to teach the system in the US).  Dr. Wagner was recently recognized an honorary founder of the International Enneagram Association (IEA).

I became a professional member of the IEA in  2015, completing another certification program the same year, with enneagram teacher Tom Condon.  Tom has taught over 800 workshops in the US, Europe and Asia and focuses on helping people grow and change. As a Lutheran minister for 21 years, I've seen first hand what it costs an organization when things are taken personally.  Leaders make decisions born from their own anxieties and become reactive rather than responsive.  I have also seen the huge dividends paid when decisions are made by a team of persons whose commitment to their own health ensures the health of the organization.  Decisions are intentional, thoughtful and responsive. Whether it's our professional or personal life, sometimes all we need is the support and encouragement of someone who believes in us and is committed to our success. Let me guide you to a deeper understanding or yourself and others through the Enneagram.  You will learn to "speak to their listening" and "listen to their speaking."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016



"In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness
of Judea, proclaiming, 2"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven
has come near." 3This is the one of whom the prophet
Isaiah spoke when he said,
 "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
 'Prepare the way of the Lord,
  make his paths straight.' " Matthew 3:1-3

Many books have been written on discipleship. This is not
surprising given Jesus' instructions for his followers
to," Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."
(Matthew 28:19a). Yet after 20 years of ordained
ministry, I have come to believe the voice crying out in
the wilderness of all the books is the voice of Jesus
himself reminding us that the words were not, "Go
therefore and make followers…," or even "Go therefore and
make members..." I will even be as bold as to suggest
that that voice would point out that the words were not,
"Go therefore and make Christians…" Yet often, this has
been the approach.

It is an approach though that has totally missed something
crucial about Jesus' voice / Jesus' word, that being that
everything Jesus says is so that a person's joy may be
made complete. His exact words were, "As the Father has
loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you
keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I
have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in
you, and that your joy may be complete." – John 15:9-11

So, you see discipleship is something entirely different
than making members, followers or even Christians. It is
about abiding in, being present to something that is
already abiding deep within each of us. The words of
Howard Thurman illustrate the point: "Don't ask what the
world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come

To do this we need a shift in the patterns of our
thoughts, feelings and behaviors. But "the shift" is not
something we do. It is something God does. Discipleship
involves God in Christ bring us to life, reminding us that
His word of love so abides with each of us that we already
have that which we seek.

Yet within each of us (and within the organizations to
which we belong) there is a restlessness that gets played
out in one of nine particular ways of seeking security and
stability. We take a stance. We develop a way of
standing, often with arms crossed and a certitude of mind
and heart which says, "My way of looking at something is
the only way or best way of looking at something. My
approach is the best approach."

But there is a different way of standing, that being in
the grip of God's grace. Standing in the grip of God's
grace we begin to examine the patterns of mind and heart
which we often get stuck within. We move in a different
direction. No matter which of the nine discipleship
stances a person finds themselves stuck within, as Jesus'
joy comes to them, what they begin realize is that they
are both "saint" and "sinner" at the very same time.

Within each discipleship stance the Holy Spirit reveals
that repentance is simply God helping a person catch
themselves in patterns of thought, feeling or behavior
that simply do not bring them to life. They begin to see
the concrete specific ways that they have "missed the
mark" and a more excellent way is revealed.

The spiritual journey after all is GOD waking us up to the
concrete specific ways that we have "missed the mark" so
that in becoming aware of them we might make the journey
back to who we've always been in God's eyes.

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see
face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know
fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith,
hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of
these is love." – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Here is a brief outline of what this looks like within
each of the nine discipleship stances.

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE ONE: Restlessness involves a mind that
so constantly scans for error (correct / incorrect) that
the heart is filled with irritation. God is doing a
shoddy job within the world and it's up to them to make
things as they should be. Coming to life the disciple
finds herself standing in the grip of God's grace as she
embraces the serenity prayer "God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to
change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the
difference. Amen." With relaxed focus they can point to
what is right as much as what is wrong. There is balance.
Good is good enough. God works in through and in spite
of the imperfection in all of us.

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE TWO: Restlessness involves a mind that
so constantly scans for what others need that the disciple
suppresses his own needs and finds his heart filling with
resentment and longing. God is doing a shoddy job of
meeting the needs of the people around them and it's up to
them to help make up for God's deficiencies. As the
disciple find himself standing in the grip of God's grace
he finds that like a stopped clock when it comes to
knowing what people need he can be right twice a day. In
humility, he falls into the arms of Christ whose embrace
reminds him that not only does he have needs but that God
IS meeting them. Coming to life he realizes that it is
more blessed to give AND receive. God can get along just
fine without his giving.

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE THREE: Restlessness involves a mind
that so constantly scans for how they can have value in
the eyes of others that it over identifies with an image
or a role. Their heart then loses touch with their own
feelings and agendas and they show others what they
believe others want to see. God is doing such a shoddy
job that if they stop doing what they are doing the
universe (whatever that "universe" is for them) will come
off if it's fly wheel. Coming to life the disciple finds
himself standing in the grip of God's grace as he hears
Christ's voice come through the wisdom of Shakespeare "To
thine own self be true." (Act-I, Scene-III, lines 78-82 of
his play, Hamlet). And standing in the grip of God's grace
he falls into the arms of Christ whose embrace reminds him
that the universe is naturally efficient. God gets along
just fine without their efforts. His Savior speaks, "You
are loved for yourself not for what you can do."

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE FOUR: Restlessness involves a mind
that so constantly scans for what is lacking, deficient,
flawed or missing that it under identifies with what is
not. There is a yearning to be understood and in the
heart a feeling that they never will be, even by God. God
is doing such a shoddy job of showing up in fact that this
disciple lives as if it is up to them to help others see
and understand what they would not otherwise. Yet, when
this disciple lives in the grip of God's grace God we see
inner balance and outer harmony. Their Savior speaks to
their heart and mind saying, "Right now you have
everything you need to be perfectly happy as does everyone
else. Because I am nothing is missing." This brings the
wisdom of Psalm 138 where the Psalmist writes, "13For it
was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together
in my mother's womb. 14I praise you, for I am fearfully
and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I
know very well."

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE FIVE: Restlessness involves a mind
that constantly scans for intrusion. Holding and
withholding information holds people off. After all God
does such a shoddy job imparting enduring wisdom upon a
thirsty world that were it not for this disciple finding
her own way to the well of wisdom and helping others to do
the same, people would die of thirst. As God brings them
to life they stand in the grip of God's grace realizing
that the "Water of Life" (divine presence) flows freely
and comes to all. They have all that they need, can share
freely and develop an appreciation of the fact that the
heart of God (just as the human heart) has reasons the
mind knows not of.

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE SIX: Restlessness involves a mind
constantly scanning for danger and arguing from a position
of possibility rather than actuality. The heart finds
itself either inhibited or impelled by its fears.
Increased self-doubt and suspicion of others is lived out
by being overly prudent, cautious and deferential one
minute and impulsive, reckless and challenging and the
next. God does such a shoddy job protecting humanity that
he even sends his only son to die. So it is up to this
disciple to make sure the rest of us don't. Coming to
life and standing in the grip of God's grace for this
disciple entails the Holy Spirit quieting the mind enough
for the disciple to understand that it is their mistrust
of self and others that actually threatens their security.
Led by an inner compass rather than outer realities they
can then go in a different direction. God gives them a
courage which is not fight or flight. It just is.

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE SEVEN: Restlessness involves a mind
that so constantly scans for pleasant options that it has
extreme difficulty settling on just one. The heart finds
itself with a yearning for more and more and more and more
(did I say more?) of whatever will bring the satisfaction
the disciple believes will fill the void. God is doing
such a shoddy job of filling that void in fact that they
become deaf to the words "I am the bread of life" when
there are so many varieties of bread to choose from. Yet
as God brings them to life and they stand in the grip of
God's grace they discover there is joy in staying focused
vs. being distracted and pulled in numerous directions.
They wisely do the right thing vs. what feels good.

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE EIGHT Restlessness involves a mind
that constantly scans for the stewardship of power,
control and justice. The heart feels the need to do
everything intensely and excessively. It holds a jaded
expectation of trouble and insult. It wells up with
energy & aggression to get what the disciple wants, defend
what he or she has and help those in weaker positions do
the same. Scripture say, "He has told you, O mortal, what
is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do
justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with
your God?" (Micah 6:8). But God is doing such a shoddy
job of the whole justice thing that it's up to this
disciple to get out ahead of God and do it for him. As
the power of the Holy Spirit over takes this stance, the
grip of grace tightens around this disciple so that they
can look back toward the God they love and realized they
are too far ahead. Realizing they missed the word, "with"
("…walk humbly WITH your God"), they return to innocence,
a dependency on God and respond to each moment without
judgment or expectation. From this position, the heart
repairs what the gut has neglected or destroyed –
relationships. And, feeling satisfied and fulfilled in
the present they see interdependence as a strength rather
than weakness.

DISCIPLESHIP STANCE NINE Restlessness involves a mind that
constantly scans for other people's agendas and evades
their own. The heart is inattentive to itself which leads
this disciple to not know what she needs or wants.
Purpose, meaning and direction is tied to the environment,
a relationship or a group and must be in line with or not
upset same. After all, God is doing such a shoddy job of
keeping the peace and bringing people together, that it is
up to this peace maker to hold things together by making
sure they cannot be blamed for tearing them apart. As
this disciple find herself standing in the grip of God's
grace their actions flow from a genuine engagement with
others and the world. Standing in grace, heart and mind
are in sync as they see, say and do the right thing for
the right reasons knowing that it will likely upset
someone's status quo and that's not a bad thing.
Relationship, system and group development, much like
muscle development often needs resistance to grow

For an example presentation on the nine discipleship
stances go to
If you would like to explore how your discipleship stance
and the stance of those around you might impact group
dynamics and the achievement of your mission objectives or
simply to learn more contact me through my website at