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."

Saturday, December 9, 2017



“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.” – Mark 13:32-35 NRSV

Jesus is talking to the disciples Peter, James, John & Andrew on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple.  Their location is important, for the reason that it juxtaposes one location for divine presence (the temple) with another (Jesus).  By the time Mark had written his Gospel the temple (destroyed in 70 AD) was no more.  Mark’s community, like many Christian communities since, yearned for the return of divine presence….the return of Jesus.  Confidence in Jesus’ promise to return was waning to say the least.  Mark wrote his account of the story of Jesus to encourage disciples in his community (and by default ours) to “stay the course” and continue living out their faith / discipleship (“each with his work”) with hopeful expectation of that coming presence (note the command for the doorkeeper to be on the watch).

So imagine if you will that we are the ones who will continue focusing on our duties and we are going to be interviewing other disciples applying for the position of doorkeeper.  Nine portfolios have come across our desk.  However, three of the nine have risen to the top.  Each shows an incredible ability to hold the space, extraordinary awareness to detail and just seems to know in their gut what is needed.  How might each of these disciples help us?  How might they hinder us?  Let’s take a look at their portfolios shall we?

}  OPENING PORTFOLIO EIGHT reveals a disciple “on the watch” for strength, influence and authenticity as far as that which can bring about a more just world where power and resources are equitably distributed.  Their self-image is “I am strong and powerful.” They are strong, confident, direct, tough, self-sufficient, and tend to keep the door closed to what they perceive as soft, phony, needy or weak.   Surely these attributes could help us watch for divine presence that comes “with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26).  Yet at the same time such vigilance could lead us to see slights, abuses, and manipulations where there are none.  The tendency to downplay, deny or dispute the sincere motivation of any affection or kindness shown them might actually be a blind spot that keeps this candidate from seeing divine presence in what to them seems weak and vulnerable.  Since they may not hear the Jesus who said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath…” John 18:11 they may not see the strength it takes to stand down. They may miss the importance of what Paul points out to the Corinthians, that “the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18) and have a hard time swallowing what he says about boastingall the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9).

}  OPENING PORTFOLIO NINE reveals a disciple “on the watch” for peace, harmony and unity.  Their self-image is “I am settled.”  This is a disciple whose gifts will keep the door closed to that which is unsettling, conflicted, pushy or exclusive.  They will help us see the blessedness of peace (“Blessed are the peacemakers…” – Matthew 5:9) and the importance of reconciliation (“first be reconciled to your brother or sister” - Matthew 5:24).  Yet, their tendency to succumb to distractions and downplay rather than deal with may be a blind spot that could actually leave the door wide open to the very disruption they seek to avoid.  Their avoidance of conflict might actually create conflict.  And, they may not see divine presence when it seeks to make itself known through division (“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” – Isaiah 55:8) and disruption (“Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” - John 2:15)

}  Opening PORTFOLIO ONE: Portfolio One reveals a disciple “on the watch” for the presence of goodness and that which can improve and make the world a better place in which to live.  Their self-image is “I am good, I am right”.  This is a good, right, intense and serious disciple who has high standards.  They will keep the door closed to anything bad, wrong or imperfect cracking it only to point out what is needed for admittance.  For the reason that they can be overly focused on what’s bad, wrong or imperfect their blind spot can be seeing what is right in the situation and how imperfections often give rather than detract from value.  Jesus’ words, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) can be toxic for them, for they can create an internal turmoil that can live itself out as external irritation.  Though this disciple sees her/himself as a “doorkeeper”, they are never really certain of which side of the door they are on.  They may have a hard time watching for the Jesus who says “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Though these portfolios have risen to the top, close examination of the remaining six reveals that all nine have the gifts and competencies required for being “on the watch” for the divine presence.  Each sees certain things but not others.  Each will open the door to certain things but not others.  Perhaps the doorkeeper we are looking for needs all nine of these portfolios in theirs?  Perhaps each of our candidates already has all nine within theirs and doesn’t know it?  Standing in the grip of God’s grace let us pray they discover just that.