Inside Out: Knowing Ourselves – Type 3 The Achiever

Scriptures for Sunday: 1 Samuel 11:1-11, 18:8-9, 28:8

About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, namely that I gouge out everyone’s right eye, and thus put disgrace upon all Israel.” The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the hearing of the people; and all the people wept aloud.

Now Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen; and Saul said, “What is the matter with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the message from the inhabitants of Jabesh. And the spirit of God came upon Saul in power when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. He took a yoke of oxen, and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one. When he mustered them at Bezek, those from Israel were three hundred thousand, and those from Judah seventy thousand. They said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have deliverance.’” When the messengers came and told the inhabitants of Jabesh, they rejoiced. 10 So the inhabitants of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 The next day Saul put the people in three companies. At the morning watch they came into the camp and cut down the Ammonites until the heat of the day; and those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

1 Samuel 18:8-9 

Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day on.

1 Samuel 28:8

So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and went there, he and two men with him. They came to the woman by night. And he said, “Consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one whom I name to you.”


Notes on the Text:

The book of 1 Samuel was part of a larger group of books before the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (3rd and 2nd Centuries BCE). The Greek translation divided the story of Israel’s monarchy into four sections: 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. The book has two main parts: the story of the prophet Samuel and the stories of Saul and David. The book was developed in several stages with different sources and editors at work. Yet, despite the different traditions that make up the book, the book itself presents a coherent account of the origins of Israel’s monarchy. Even though God was reluctant to have a king rule over Israel because of fear of corruption, the transition was made from the rule of tribal leaders and judges to a king. Saul started out good king with deep faith and adherence to the guidance of the prophet, he lost his way and became obsessed with his own personal success and power. We will look at Saul through the lens of the Enneagram as a Type 3: The Achiever or Performer.


Because Threes on the Enneagram are so focused on accomplishments and success, they have a hard time accessing their feelings and the feelings of others. They see feelings as distractions from the work to be done. King Saul suffered so much because of his inability to deal with his feelings around failure. As a Three King Saul seemed to have it all because he accomplished a lot. He was the first king of ancient Israel. He was chosen by God through the voice of the prophet Samuel. He united the 12 tribes and established a central government. Saul was a visionary and was able to rally others around him. He was a great warrior and thus became victorious in battle. Saul defeated many of the enemies of his country, including the Ammonites, Philistines, Moabites, and Amalekites. He united the scattered tribes, giving them greater strength. He reigned for 42 years. He was very interested in his public image and relations so when he won in battle, he did not go after the ones who doubted him. Instead he sought to win them over. His need to be liked made him forgive easily. But as a Three, Saul’s success also became his downfall. He could not face any of his mistakes. He fell into depression when he lost in battle. He became deceptive. He struggled with jealousy and feelings of competition when a young man by the name of David started to rise to power. He went as far as trying to kill him because he lost his trust in God and became consumed by his fears of failure. Saul became a tragic character because of his inability to let go of his drive for success and to trust that he was loved by God not for his accomplishments but for who he truly was. He ended up seeking help from a medium. He disguised himself to visit the woman of Endor even though earlier in his rule, he had outlawed all mediums and wizards from the land.


For Reflection:

Even though you may not be a Type 3, you can relate to it because it is the personality type that represents our American culture so well. The ideals of success, hard work, efficiency, goal-setting, glamour, optimism, and achievement are at the heart of the American dream and are what makes our country unique in the world. I have heard one pastor describe our country this way, “America: Home of the brave and the land of the Threes.” Threes thrive in our country. Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile write (screen), “Being a Three and living in America is like being an alcoholic living in a saloon.” Unfortunately, the drive of the Threes to accomplish and perform is often coupled with some deceit, so success could justify cutting corners and disadvantaging some people in the process. We see that in our country when many go hungry (especially children) because we focus on “helping those who help themselves” or on an unbridled greed and competition as ways to success. We also see it in the drive of so many to work hard and long hours without taking breaks. Here is one of the many articles about American culture of long work hours:


On a personal level, Threes struggle with connecting to their feelings and the feelings of others because they are focused on tasks and accomplishing goals.


The example of Saul could teach us some lessons about success and the need for transformation for Threes and for all of us who look for success as path to happiness. While success is not a bad thing in and of itself, it is a challenge for us because it often engages our vanity and sense of worth. We end up equating success with being of value. Our humanity then hinges on our ability to perform and produce and not on our inner quality of life. Consider the following two pieces as helps for us when success becomes a maniacal and ruthless driver in our lives:

  1. A Focus on the Cross: The cross of Jesus was a symbol of shame and failure in his time. It was the capital punishment of the Roman Empire for any who seemed to threaten their rule. Most people at the time saw the cross as a failure for the mission of Jesus. In fact, the Gospels spend a lot of time trying to help us understand the cross and how God works through what the world considers to be weak. As the Apostle Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For 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.” For Threes accepting the power of God in what the world considers to be weakness is the challenge of faith and of inverting our whole value system. The cross could redefine our views on success to see authenticity and humility as the path to true joy in life.
  2. An Active Contemplative Life: Part of the transformation path for those with a drive for success is to find a different source for energy by getting in touch with their inner lives. It is important for Threes to take time away from the crowds and from projects and tasks to be in silence and in stillness where the drive to produce is set aside. Threes could benefit from intentional times of letting go of their public image to relax and access their deeper essence.


When Threes mature and allow themselves time to grow, they become incredible people. Here is what Don Riso and Russ Hudson write about that in The Wisdom of the Enneagram:


“When they are able to reconnect with their hearts, healthy Threes model the Essential gift of authenticity like no other type. Their behavior becomes genuine, not trying to be more or less than they really are. They become simple and available, revealing their true selves with honesty and humility.

Authenticity is not about being brutally honest. Authenticity means manifesting who you are in the moment. When Threes are present, they are simple and able to speak the truth that comes directly from their hearts. At first glance, this may not seem like much of an achievement, but if we think about it, we realize how rarely we present ourselves to others in this way.

As Threes learn to embrace their authenticity, their Essential quality begins to arise. It is difficult to speak about, not because it is so abstract but because it is so fundamental to our existence that we tend to be blind to it. Perhaps the best word for it is value —the fact that we are valuable because we exist…When we contact our Essential value, however, we know that it is an intrinsic part of our true nature. We cannot be without value, we can only forget that it is there. All of the pains, humiliations, and problems of life do nothing to diminish the Essential value of a person; at most, they only modify the person and give him or her an opportunity for further expansion, acceptance, and understanding. Thus, when Threes are able to perceive their Essential value directly, they become freed from the ego’s relentless pursuit of self-esteem through achievement. This affords them the time and space to live with a greatness of spirit, a life of love, richness, and wonder.”

Affirmations by Don Riso:

I now release…

  • being obsessed by my hostile feelings toward others.
  • believing that sabotaging others will make things better for me.
  • feeling jealous of others and their good fortune.
  • my fear of failing and being humiliated.
  • fearing that I am inadequate and will be rejected.
  • feeling that I must conceal my mistakes and limitations.
  • closing down my feelings in order to function.
  • betraying my own integrity to get the admiration of others.
  • attempting to misrepresent myself and my abilities.
  • the grandiose expectations I have of myself.
  • craving constant attention and affirmation.
  • using arrogance to compensate for my own insecurity.
  • desiring to impress others with my performance.
  • concealing myself behind masks.
  • comparing myself with others.
  • driving myself relentlessly to be the best.

I now affirm…

  • that I have value regardless of my achievements.
  • that I am centered and emotionally available.
  • that I am caring and have a good heart.
  • that I take in the love others give me.
  • that I am responsible to those who look up to me.
  • that I am happy to work for the good of others.
  • that I develop my true talents by accepting who I am.
  • that I delight in the accomplishments and successes of others.
  • that I can reveal my real self without being afraid.


Prayer by Don Riso:

Reawakening Your Heart

Place your hand on your chest, right over your heart, and take a few deep breaths. Let your attention sense this area of your body. Let it go into this space. What do you experience? Remember that there is no right answer—there is nothing that you are supposed to experience. Whatever you find or do not find is your experience. Stay with whatever sensations you find in your heart “space,” and note how they change over time. Return to this practice at least once a day.

Type 3

Weekly Bible Devotionals

Written by Pastor Roula Alkhouri


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