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."

Friday, December 22, 2017


“John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” – Mark 1:4

This is the second devotional blog in what hopefully will be a three part Advent-Christmas series that takes a unique look at discipleship through the lens of the enneagram and a particular Sunday’s readings.  The above text is from the second Sunday of Advent.

I have to be honest, John the baptizer is not my favorite character in the Bible.  I’ve seen his proclamation as the all too familiar weapon of choice for persons who seem to care more about getting another “notch in their belt” as far as the number of persons they “bring to Jesus” than the individuals themselves.   I could be wrong and I know it is extremely judgmental, but it seems to me that often their way peddling John’s message is more of a threat than an announcement of the good news of divine presence in Jesus.  Maybe it’s just me but I can’t get my mind around how, “Repent or else, face the fiery depths of hell and the lake of fire!” is good news.

So I want to invite you into another way of looking at John’s message, one that reflects compassion NOT condemnation.  This message comes to you in wilderness of your life to point to the coming of a good shepherd who seeks to guide you in a direction opposite that which you sometimes might find yourself heading.  That’s what the word repentance literally means, “To turn around and move in the complete opposite direction.”   This shepherd promises to lead you to the still waters (baptism for Christians) of his presence so that your thirst might be quenched and what is broken in your life might be restored.  This is the sense of the words “Forgiveness of sins” (i.e. restoration of what is broken).

In the third chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul uses the Greek word “harmartia,” when speaking of sin.  It is an archery term which means “to miss the mark”.  We’re all broken, we all fall short of the mark says Paul (Romans 3:23).  As divine presence comes it comes, not to threaten or condemn, but to help us get back on target.  More often than not (at least for me) that means turning us around so that we are actually facing the right direction. 

Seen in this way, John’s proclamation of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins is a message of hope.  And, for the reason that each of our discipleship portfolios contain different gifts and competencies which enable us to see and say certain things about this hope but not others, we need one another.  The light (divine presence) with in you helps me see the light (divine presence) within me. 

My enneagram teacher Jerry Wager points out that each enneagram style has a “sweet spot” and “blind spot”.  So, each of the nine portfolios we are opening contain a particular focus of convenience, an intuitive edge, a clarity of vision which enables the person to see some things clearer and sooner than persons invested in other portfolios.  In the first devotional blog we opened three portfolios.  Let’s open three more, shall we?  Whereas the previous three were led by their gut, the following three are led by their heart.  Actually, there is a sense for each that they are led by everyone else’s heart, but we will save that for another time.

OPENING PORTFOLIO TWO reveals a disciple who proclaims divine presence is revealed when we turn away from isolation and connect with others.  They help us see the importance of community and that we are all interconnected.  This person envisions making the world a more loving place to live in.  Their gifts and competencies nurture others and foster relationships.  Their sweet spot is that they see the needs of others.  Their blind spot is that they cannot see what they don’t see, that being that they take an unhealthy pride in believing they know what is needed better the person themselves.  Being overly focused on the needs of others or unconsciously the need to be needed renders them blind to their own needs.  They falsely believe that they cannot be helpers and helpees at the same time.  Ironically if they were on an airplane that lost cabin pressure, their gift would be their curse.  They would not be around long to be much help because they would have ignored instructions and placed the oxygen mask on others first.  The light of divine presence in us can bring compassion to help them find their way out of the wilderness of avoiding their own needs so that they may experience a restoration to wholeness (i.e. the forgiveness of sins).  The light of divine presence in us can help them see that it is just as blessed to receive as it is to give.  Allowing ourselves to be receptive to the divine presence in others is a good thing and is part of a healthy community.

OPENING PORTFOLIO THREE reveals a disciple who proclaims divine presence is revealed when we turn away from idleness and move toward action. They can see and say how divine presence empowers us to do something with the grace in which we stand, rather than simply stand in it.  And, the light of divine presence within them steers us in that direction as well.  Their sweet spot is that they have a natural ability to assess situations and can organize, set goals and motivate themselves and others to work effectively toward them. As, they envision making the world a more efficient place in which to live they help us hear the call to discipleship as one of service in the world.   Their blind spot, however is that they have difficulty experiencing divine presence when they grow idle.   God says, “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46) but how can one know God and be still?” they say.  The light of divine presence within us can help them see that they are loved simply for who they are rather than what they do.  As divine presence comes to them it reveals the inefficiency in not slowing down and being so driven by the belief that failure and inefficiency must be avoided at all cost. (Luke 10.41 “But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;”).

OPENING PORTFOLIO FOUR – reveals a disciple who proclaims divine presence is empowers us turn away from the ordinary and mundane and live as the crème de la crème.  The light of divine presence within them helps us see it is as Yoda says, “luminous beings we are, not this crude matter.”  The force, the energy of divine presence (Christians would say the Holy Spirit) sets us apart as special and unique.  There is something about baptism that is holy indeed.  The sweet spot for persons invested in this portfolio is that they see how divine presence sparks creativity, heightens sensitivity, and allows one to dive deeper into the ocean of life and love than one could ever imagine.  They envision making the world a more beautiful, extraordinary and passionate place.  Their blind spot, however is that they often miss how God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.  Ironically they often see themselves as set a part not because God has claimed them as special, but because internally they are plagued by a feeling that they are as Tom Condon, another of my enneagram teachers says, “A cosmic paperwork mistake.”  In their inner most being they wrestle with God saying, “Why have you abandoned me?  Why have you made me like this?” They would do well to reflect on what the apostle Paul says as he writes to the Romans, “But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use?” (Romans 9:20-21).  The light of divine presence in us can help them see that it is indeed as Paul says in his second letter to the Corinthians, “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7). 

Hopefully now you see how condemnation might rear its ugly head either from within or outside of each of these portfolios.  And, you can see how the message of compassion can make itself known within or outside of each as well.   Compassion or condemnation?  What’s in your portfolio?  For more on the nine portfolios you want in yours you can go to