Inside Out: Knowing Ourselves – Type 8 The Challenger

Overview of Eights (from

Today we focus on Type 8, the Challenger. Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self- mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring. Basic Fear: Of being harmed, betrayed, controlled by others. Basic Desire: To protect themselves (to be in control of their own life
and destiny). Key Motivations: Want to be self-reliant, to prove their strength and resist weakness, to be important in their world, to dominate the environment, and to stay in control of their situation.

Scripture for Sunday: Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”


Notes on the Text:

This week we are looking at Martha through the lens of the Enneagram as an example of Type 8. She was one of the disciples and friends of Jesus. Jesus and some of his disciples had come to her home for dinner. Martha as the host wanted to provide a meal for all of them. It was the role of the women in those days to provide the meal. Martha got busy doing that, but the problem came when she realized that her sister Mary sat with Jesus instead of working in the kitchen with her. This was an issue of justice for Martha. It was not fair for her to be doing all the work, while her sister sat there enjoying herself. Martha herself would have preferred being able to spend time with her friend Jesus, but duty was calling, and she needed to do the right thing.


Martha decided that she needed to speak up for what was right. As an Eight, Martha was not going to put up with what she saw as an injustice. And in Eight fashion, she did not do this quietly. She could have called her sister into the kitchen and asked her to help, but that was not the style of an Eight. She wanted Jesus and others in on the debate. She wanted him to side with her. Eights are not afraid of conflict. In fact, they often thrive on it.

So how did Jesus respond? Having known Martha’s type, Jesus knew exactly how to respond to Martha’s challenge. He responded in a perfect way that an Eight would appreciate. He spoke to her directly and truthfully. He challenged her assumptions about truth and justice. In a way that is what the Gospel of Luke did all along. It challenged people’s assumptions about society and who belonged where, especially women and “outsiders.”

In that culture and at that time women did not usually recline at table with men. Men always reclined at an ancient meal, as we see in many other stories in the Gospels, respectable women were not present at a reclining banquet, and if they were, they were to sit and not recline. But here in our story we find Mary reclining with Jesus at the table (sitting at his feet as a disciple would). When Martha was indignant about her sister reclining at the table with men, Jesus had to challenge her cultural assumptions about the roles of women and men. Jesus demonstrated to Martha and to the rest of his followers that all were called to be his followers, both men and women. Mary was functioning as a disciple by sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his teachings. This was what the male disciples did, but this was also what Mary did. Martha had to be challenged with a different kind of truth, the truth of the good news. Jesus affirmed Mary’s desire to be a disciple and her focus on that.

For Reflection:

This week’s story gives us several pieces to think about in terms of the transformation of an Eight.

  1. The Truth Is Bigger Than Us: Martha had to learn that her assumptions about what was right and wrong had to be changed and transformed. No one has the full truth of God and of the world. We need each other and we need to open our minds to new ideas that might challenge us, especially if they lead to greater inclusion, love, and justice in the world. The world is not always black and white. Dualistic thinking can only get us so far. Remember that you are not always right.
  2. Vulnerability: We often get taught that being vulnerable equals being weak. But vulnerability takes a lot of courage and strength. It helps us move away from our need to control everything to being open to the gifts of life and love. The next time you find yourself trying to control a situation, you might want to challenge yourself to be vulnerable with others about your inner needs and feelings. Get in touch with your inner child and see what is hurting in that situation that you are trying to control. When you find yourself being fearful of being betrayed, remember what Jesus said about recovering our inner innocence and trust, “unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3b
  3. Divine Justice: Martha’s demand for justice needed to be tempered by a greater vision of justice. She needed to let go of what she considered to be justice and fairness in order to accomplish God’s greater vision of justice. It was not fair for her to do all the work while her sister sat there and enjoyed herself. But through Mary, Jesus gave a great example of inclusion for other women and Martha needed to see that because of the greater good that was being accomplished. The next time you find yourself saying, “But that is not fair,” consider God’s greater justice and mercy in the world. Try aligning your will with the divine will for the world.

Prayer by Sandra Smith:

Loving Protector, watch my back as I wade into the waters of waiting for I do not trust easily. Empty me of my need to assert myself, empty me of my need to blame others when things don’t go my way. Soften the walls surrounding my heart, the rigid boundaries, my strong opinions. Embrace me as I wait, so that I may know the richness in stillness and open my heart to the affection of others. May I be present in my waiting without judgement and without fear, knowing that you abide with me always. Ground me in your gentle and loving presence that I may be gentle and loving with myself and others. Remind me each day that we are all one and that in our unity we find hope. Amen.




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