RiverTree’s Johnna Artzner now a certified coach.

JACKSON TWP. Though she’s a natural leader, Johnna Artzner says she felt like a square peg in a round hole for much of her life.

A journey of self-discovery led her to take an enneagram test. The result was so impactful, she became a certified enneagram coach.

Unlike most personality assessments, Artzner, director of communication with RiverTree Christian Church, said enneagrams take a deep dive behind the "why" of a person‘s behavior, adding that it’s also helped deepen and strengthen her relationship with God.

"I felt in order to lead others, I had to know myself," she said. "It was a period of self-discovery so I could figure how I was wired and gifted so I could lead better."

Artzner said she has taken previous personality tests, which focus more on a person‘s cognitive response.

"I just found that all of these things have a great place as tools for us to use," she said. "I feel a lot of other resources are great. But for me, the enneagram felt deeper. It taught me more of the ‘why’ of what you do; the core of why we do what we do; and how we are gifted. I‘ve learned it’s OK to be wired like this. Instead of being frustrated by that, the enneagram releases me from that."

Light-bulb moment

An enneagram test is a series of statements about your personality. Your responses are given a numerical value (1 to 9) that correspond with an assessment.

For example:

"I tend to trust people."

"I strive for perfection."

"I like caring for others."

"It's more than a test. It's a deep dive," she said.

"Your number is just the beginning. Your childhood plays a role. It‘s a great option for people looking to grow. Finding my type was just the beginning. I felt like I should be comfortable in my own skin but I wasn't. In my mid-40s, I‘m finally going, ’Yes, this is it.’ For me, it felt like a personal GPS."

Artzner studied under Beth McCord, a Christian enneagram coach in Nashville.

"Some people don‘t think it’s Christian-based, but she really was the first one for me who brought out the gospel perspective," she said. "There’s always naysayers but for me, this is what works for me to know myself in order to lead others. Christ wants you to be your true self."

The Rev. J.R. Rozko, who co-pastors First Church of the Resurrection in Canton with his wife, the Rev. Amy Rozko, uses enneagram testing as counseling tool. He said he first learned about it in 2009 from a colleague who coaches and trains church planters.

"He used it as tool when it came to spiritual counseling and team development," he said. "As so often happens when people first encounter the enneagram, what most piqued my interest was how, after asking only a few brief questions, this friend was able to name dynamics and patterns in my life and leadership that were spot on. He did the same for Amy and then went on to also describe what he guessed were features of how we related to one another, which also were spot-on. All this without really knowing us personally."

Rozko said he’s aware that some Christians are hesitant, even suspicious.

"We did the same initially," he said. "But after discovering its connection to ancient Christian traditions and understanding it from a biblical point of view, it quickly went from something that seemed like a ‘personalty-based parlor trick’ to a system of understanding human identity that was deeply rooted in what it means to be created in the image of God, yet to live in a fallen world and to have to negotiate our own forms of brokenness."

Nature and nurture

Artzner said enneagram testing helps people become more aware of how they react and respond to certain situations, particularly stress.

Having that knowledge, she added, is a good tool for leaders.

"It’s a great catalyst for self-awareness and growth, and it’s also a great catalyst for team-building," she said. "You really learn your core fears and desires. It helps reveal your path to growth, your weaknesses, what your type reveals, and how it reflects the attributes of Christ."

"One of the biggest pet peeves that Amy and I have when it comes to pop takes on the enneagram is the supposition that it is just another mechanism for personality typing," Rozko said. "Fundamentally, the enneagram is a window into the ways in which each of us reflects an aspect of God’s own character, thus providing rationale for the underlying motivations that tend to drive our actions and decisions.

"Using the enneagram as a tool in this way helps us to better understand ourselves at the deepest of levels, including why we tend to think and act the ways we do, which always stems from a combination of nature and nurture."

Artzner said learning that she’s wired to be a leader helps her to be more cognizant of others’ input.

"It really was an affirmation to me that God made me like this, and that I can still be loved and valued for who I am," she said. "Instead of me feeling like I should be playing someone else, it released me to be who I am."

To learn more, contact Artzner by email at: artznerj@gmail.com.

Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or charita.goshay@cantonrep.com

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