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, January 12, 2018


“When they (the wise men) had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.” –Matthew 2:9b-11
This is the third of a three part blog series which began as we anticipated and celebrated the birth of Divine Presence into the world. This Advent-Christmas series has looked at discipleship through the lens of the enneagram and a particular day within the church calendar. Each blog within the series takes a look at three of nine possible discipleship portfolios. These “personality portfolios” contain unique investment patterns related to the disciple’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  Our first set of three helped us see disciples whose strength of discernment was body or gut based and our second disciples whose strength of discernment was heart based. Today, January 6th, the day the Epiphany of Our Lord we arrive at the manger with the wise men. So it is only fitting that we open the portfolios of the three disciples whose strength of discernment is head based. How might their gifts (pun intended) help us pay homage (i.e. pay attention) to the Divine Presence we have anticipated, celebrated and now see revealed in the manger?
OPENING PORTFOLIO FIVE reveals a disciple who follows the star’s light of wisdom, understanding, knowledge and truth. Their journey seeks to understand the world, to discover what is real and true and to make it more intelligible. As they draw near the manger they pay homage or attention to Divine Presence through the gift of their intellect. Ironically, however, it is likely they would be slow to approach the manger and perhaps the last of the “wise men” to present their gift for the reason that internally they are often plagued by a fear that their knowledge is incomplete or inadequate. As they kneel at the manger, Divine Presence is revealed in the invitation to let go, to trust their feelings and embrace their instincts. Their epiphany / revelation comes as they stay present in the moment and take a deeper look into the manger. This may mean staying longer than perhaps is comfortable for them, but it can allow them to see what at first they do not see, the wisdom hidden in foolishness. The apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians below reflect this as does what Luke Skywalker (for you Star War fans) misses in this clip of his first encounter with Yoda
“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.” – 1 Corinthians 1:21
OPENING PORTFOLIO SIX reveals a disciple who follows the star and is loyal to its light because they know it to be safe, reliable and part of a tradition to which they are loyal. They journey hoping to find that safety and security has finally been brought to the world so as to make it a more reliable, more trustworthy place in which to live. As they draw near the manger they pay homage or attention to Divine Presence through not only the gift of their loyalty, but also, their ability to point out danger. Ironically, this same ability to point out danger and identify what could go wrong could have slowed the journey of the three Magi down to the point that they were actually in danger of missing the manger entirely. Since the three made it, it is likely that either one of the other two Magi led the caravan or that this one led by facing their fear head on, as is the case with some who lead with this portfolio (Counter Phobic SIXES). As they kneel at the manger they see and hear, in the helplessness of the One before them, an invitation to trust that all will be well. Their epiphany / revelation is that in the “space between” running from, running into and being run by fear is Divine Presence. It is a presence that brings peace in spite of the realities we think we see, realities such as tombs that are sealed and doors that are locked.
 “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.” - John 20:1
“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews (i.e. the world outside), Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” – John 20:19
OPENING PORTFOLIO SEVEN – reveals a disciple who follows the star’s light of possibility. They are on a journey to discover the things that make the world a more delightful place in which to live. As they draw near the manger they pay homage or attention to Divine Presence through their gifts of joy and ability to see pleasant possibilities. Ironically, however, they can fail to see the great beauty that lies in the thorns, without which a rose would not be a rose. As Peter’s response to Jesus below reveals, they may not see how their focus on pleasant possibilities can distract, drag down and actually keep them from seeing Divine Presence in ALL of its beauty.
"Then he (Jesus) began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” - Mark 8:31-33
As they kneel at the manger, Divine Presence is revealed in the invitation to see in the cradle the cross. And, their epiphany / revelation is to see in the cross the cradle of life, joy and possibility.
Our three part blog series has now concluded. Hopefully you now see the gifts and the limitations contained in each portfolio. Each contains gifts and competencies when it comes to being “on the watch” for the coming of Divine Presence. Each sees certain things but not others. Each will open the door to certain things but not others. Each can demonstrate compassion. Each can devolve into condemnation. And, finally you can see how each, in its own way, is useful for the journey to the manger. Each of the nine portfolios can help us see more fully the Presence revealed to us all in the manger. If you missed the first two blogs in this series you can go to:
For more on the nine portfolios you want in yours go to What’s in your portfolio?