Original Design: Nines show us as clear a picture as we can possibly have (this side of heaven) of God’s Peace. They bring harmony to the Body of Christ, and they use their gentle and caring presence to help others grow into who they were designed to be.
Desire: To have peace and harmony.
Fear: The loss of a relationship due to conflict.
Sin: Sloth. In order to keep the peace, they will give up their own desires and opinions, and “go to sleep to themselves” so that conflict goes away. They numb themselves with mindless activities and have trouble taking action—especially when they’re fighting against the current.
Nines are gentle, accepting, and empathetic. They’re naturally gifted in self-forgetfulness, which allows them to love people extremely well—and to “merge” with others, seeing the world through another person’s eyes. This can actually hurt them when used improperly, though, because they struggle to see themselves as an important part of their community. They feel tempted to disappear into the background and make way for “more important” people.
You might be an Enneagram 9 if:
Nines are marked by gentleness, peace, acceptance, and harmony. They are trusted confidants, mediators, healers of relationships, and deep connectors.
Spending time with a Nine is like leaning back into a giant pillow. It feels easy. It feels effortless. You feel fully accepted.
They’re constantly redirecting attention away from themselves, making things about you, and trying to see the other side in any argument or disagreement. They believe that, in general, people are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.
When two people in their world are in conflict, Nines naturally act as a mediator. And they’re extremely good at it. They’re known for bringing peace everywhere they go.
This peace comes from a Nine’s natural self-forgetfulness. Nines long so deeply for harmony, that they deprioritize their own desires. This sounds great in theory, but it’s also one of the Nine’s key weaknesses. They have a habit of “going to sleep to themselves.”
I’ve heard it said that while Twos don’t know what their needs are, Nines don’t know what their wants are.
Nines are quick to give themselves the name tag, “Not Important.” They disappear into the background to make room for others to have the foreground. They don’t pay attention to the person they are — and the preferences and opinions that come with it. Instead, they look to “merge” with others.
When a Nine merges, they experience life with another person’s viewpoints, preferences, and dreams — and they check their own at the door for a while.
This habit of merging is a way for them to connect on an extremely deep level with another person. But it also means they let someone else take the steering wheel of their life.
To a Nine, “going to sleep” also means disappearing into a state of inaction. That can mean reading, watching Netflix, or literally sleeping. It’s an uninvolvement in the world. Nines can struggle a lot with inertia.
But one of the most defining features of a Nine is that they’re also asleep to their anger. As a body type, Anger is the primary emotion of a Nine…but they are extremely disconnected from it. They can actually carry a ton of anger with them without even realizing it, because they’ve suppressed it.
Ever seen Office Space?
The stapler guy is a great example of a Nine that’s not connected to their anger. They’ll stuff it down deep because they don’t want to cause conflict, but it doesn’t go away. Then one day, it bubbles up…and they set the building on fire.
As a Nine, you need to know:
God’s plan is to reconnect you with who you were intended to be. He’s given you important gifts and his plan is to help you learn what it means to be yourself and find your voice.
I say this so you know that the most useful part of the enneagram is when it helps you identify and reclaim your God-given gifts. You don’t have to beat yourself up for qualities that might look imperfect right now, but were actually meant to be something incredible.
The closer you get to your original design, the more you reflect God in an amazing way.
A Nine was given a crucial piece of the image of God: His Shalom, His Peace that surpasses all understanding. Their passion is keeping everyone in unity.
When they see conflict in their world, they intuitively look to repair the unity by bringing their powerful, peaceful presence into the situation.
Nines were also gifted with a special skill set: The ability to use their “merging” to merge with God. This makes them natural contemplatives, geared toward connecting and listening to Him. He loves connecting with them in that way.
A Nine’s “merging” is a wonderful gift — it helps them understand what Jesus meant when he prayed “I pray that they would be in me as I am in You.” Imagine if a Nine used their “merging” in their relationship with God instead of with people!
They can teach the rest of us so much about what it means to be in unity.
The body functions better because of the way Nines bring connection, unity, and harmony into our worlds.
But the sad reality of this world is that sin entered the picture. Our gifts were twisted into something they were never intended to be.
Often, Nines—who have this remarkable ability to make things about other people—were fooled into believing this means they’re not allowed to have their own opinions. Or when they do, that their opinions aren’t heard or don’t matter.
The lie they hear is, “Your true peace comes from your connection with others, so you better not rock the boat or you’ll screw it up.”
What’s so interesting (and compelling) about the enemy’s lies are that they’re almost true.
Yes, connection does bring peace. And conflict can risk peace. But let me ask you this: Do you see God, the master of peace, shying away from conflict in the Bible?
But this is one of the key battles for Nines: Learning to believe that conflict won’t destroy their relationships.
Nines fear conflict for this reason. And that’s what leads them to their cardinal sin, Sloth.
Sloth is a defense mechanism they use to try and keep the peace.
Because if they don’t have to butt heads with anyone, they won’t lose connection. And the easiest way to do that is to not have any preferences. This leads them to go to sleep to themselves, and to see their desires as unimportant.
But here’s the problem:
When you latch your boat to someone else’s, and you climb into their boat, you get to go along with them wherever they’re going. But behind their boat, yours is slowly being tattered by the wake.
Eventually your hopes and dreams start to fall apart while you’re riding in their boat, running after their hopes and dreams.
This creates a lot of suppressed resentment.
Like all other types, the Nine’s struggle doesn’t come from thin air. You struggle with this because you believe it’s actually helping you.
The fear of “rocking the boat” promises to help you keep connection and unity, which you were designed for. So you make an agreement with that fear.
But that fear actually has catastrophic and unintended consequences.
While you’re trying to protect your unity in the moment, your future unity is threatened. Because you have to lie to yourself about your own needs and desires in order to stay in that relationship.
And your inner voice begins to blame them for not giving you what you need, even though you weren’t honest with them about what you need.
You lie to yourself and tell yourself you’re not angry, but that doesn’t make the anger go away.
Paradoxically, this can make your relationships slowly fall apart as your repressed anger escapes in passive aggressive ways. And you start to realize that while you were trying to escape from external conflict, there’s actually internal conflict living inside you. And you can’t truly connect until you’re honest about it.
But so many Nines never discover this. Instead they live in their “dream world” where no one is ever mad and everything is always good with everyone. It’s like having bed bugs and pretending they’re not there while they breed and multiply.
As a Nine disrespects themselves internally, they have a harder and harder time pretending like everything is okay inside them.
An unhealthy Nine will disappear more and more. They begin to lose their self esteem, and begin to believe they are unimportant and not worth listening to. They can easily become depressed, stop showing up to things, and spend most of their days in a “waking sleep.”
Eventually, they become so disconnected from their sense of self that they need to “merge” in order to find an identity they can claim as their own. They let other people define them. And they lose all the amazing gifts—and the amazing voice—that God gave them.
But the original design of a Nine’s avoidance comes not from somewhere evil, but somewhere good. It’s a part of them that was simply twisted by lies, and the fear that results from those lies.
Nines were made for unity. They long to provide a place where other people can grow and thrive. They simply just don’t lump themselves into that group of people.
And in a great twist of irony, that ends up hurting their loved ones. Because God made them with a strong voice, with preferences, and with an important place in their community—which becomes a vacant seat when they don’t show up in the world.
Imagine for a moment that a dear friend came up to you and told you they didn’t feel like they had a voice that deserved to be heard, and they believed they were entirely unimportant.
How would you respond?
Think of a few things you’d say to this friend.
This is an interesting experiment—because Nines are typically incredible at fighting for other people, but somehow there’s a disconnect when it comes to you. You feel like everyone else deserves this dignity, but you don’t.
Now, imagine for a moment that this friend turns out to be the 11-year-old version of you. You’re speaking to you as a kid. The you that first started realizing they needed to disappear and let other people have the spotlight and the glory and the importance.
Does your heart break for this child?
It feels so natural to latch your boat to someone else’s—to champion their dreams and fight for their goals.
But what about your boat, which is being torn up by the wake as you ride someone else’s?
What if God made your boat Himself, and called that boat Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, and gave that boat an important purpose, a story all its own? And what if you have a responsibility to steward that boat?
A Nine’s growth journey is one of waking up to themselves, and then showing up in the world.
The way a Nine is tempted to treat their own gifts and their own story reminds me of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
In the parable, the master gives 3 servants different amounts of money—and tells them to steward it. Two servants double the money. But one buries it in the ground out of fear. The master, out of frustration, takes the third servant’s money.
Nine…you have been given gifts by your heavenly Father.
Sometimes it feels safe to bury them. But by burying them, everyone else misses out on your gifts and your presence in the world.
I don’t believe you were called to bury your gifts. We all miss out on God’s image inside you while you’re asleep to yourself. Wake up and show up!
You have been given an incredible gift of prioritizing other people and loving other people, fighting for other people, and even “merging” with other people.
But there’s a tiny tweak that needs to be made: You cannot lose sight of the individual story and person that God has gifted you with.
You have the responsibility and opportunity to steward what you’ve been given. And you have been given a part of the body of Christ, which has its own job to help the body function properly.
If the eye isn’t seeing and is instead trying to help the foot walk, what use is it? The eye actually helps the foot walk by being itself. It tells the foot where it needs to go.
In the same way, by growing into yourself, with your own story and your own desires and your own preferences, you are actually respecting everyone else around you and helping them become the best version of themselves.
Pay attention to them. Get to know them. Start speaking up and making a move. That’s one of the biggest ways you grow as a Nine.
You are too valuable to the Lord for you not to be considered. The idea that your needs and desires are unimportant is a lie. And I don’t believe He is okay with you treating yourself, His beloved, like you don’t matter.
It’s as if God is saying to Nines, “No longer will I stand for you believing your name is Unimportant. Your true name is Beloved. I have given you a place, a voice, a presence. If you don’t sit there, the seat will be empty. Take your place in my family!”
It’s time to climb back into your own boat. Get to know how it sails, the nuances, the edges and curves. Repair the places that got tattered while it was being pulled along by other people’s boats.
It’s not bad to ride in others’ boats sometimes. As long as you realize God has made you your own person with desires, wants, dreams, and opinions that are valuable to the kingdom.
Of course, it’s all easier said than done.
So…what’s it take for a Nine to internalize this truth, stop falling asleep to themselves, and begin showing up in the world?
When Nines feel afraid of losing the peace, they often will turn off their “caring” as a defense mechanism.
A Nine friend of mine told me, “I numb out to escape.” She’ll go play a game on her phone, or lock herself in her room and won’t talk to anyone, or avoid situations that would make her have to confront the problem.
It’s a running away from tension, by convincing yourself, “this doesn’t bother me.”
The problem is, it does. And your conscious mind may not believe that, but your subconscious does. Keep betraying yourself and you’ll eventually find feelings of rage leaping out from seemingly nowhere.
Can you notice times when you do that?
Also notice the lie you hear: “If you fail to keep the peace, you’ll lose the relationship.”
But the peace you truly need doesn’t come from your relationships. It comes from God. If you’re merged into God, you get to partake in the “Peace that surpasses all understanding.” And you don’t have to worry that you’re being sadistic or hurting someone who doesn’t need to be hurt.
Instead, you gain the bravery to move safely into conflict—and love through it. Often, you’ll find the conflict didn’t cost you any connection. Sometimes it actually increases connection, because the other person finally knows where your boundaries are and how to love you back.
One of the most shocking things to Nines is often when they realize that after they asserted their opinions and desires, people didn’t leave.
It’s terrifying. It feels like there’s an invisible wall in front of you, keeping you from initiating a hard conversation. It won’t come out of your mouth. You can’t even imagine it coming out of your mouth.
But let me tell you this: It gets easier. And you CAN do it. And you HAVE to do it in order to grow. Remember: Clarity is kindness. Often the most loving thing you can do is tell the hard truth.
But as you practice conflict, remember this bit of perspective:
As a Nine, you’re great at damage control.
All you have to do is get good at “lobbing the grenade” and you’re incredible at picking up the pieces.
If you can muster the courage to say the one thing that you’re afraid will be painful for someone to hear, you have to remember that you are more well-equipped than just about anybody to make them feel loved afterward.
A dear friend of mine says “clarity is kindness.”
That’s something a Nine needs to hear and act upon.
Passive-aggressive behavior is a warning sign that you’re not operating in a healthy way.
It’s dishonest and unfair to withhold your needs and desires—or even lie about them—and then hold others accountable for reading your mind.
It might feel safer to do that. But the truth is, in order to have unity with a person, you HAVE to communicate. Even when you have something hard to say.
A Nine’s problems can get much worse because of inaction.
At some point, 9s experience moments where they have to confront the conflict head on—often much stronger because they’ve kicked it down the road. These are turning points that lead to health or unhealth.
Instead of saying, “There’s nothing wrong” or “I don’t know, what do you think?”, tell the truth.
As a Nine you have a tendency to think less of yourself.
And then you tell yourself it’s okay, because you’re being humble. That’s what God wants, right?
One of my favorite quotes on humility is Rick Warren’s from The Purpose Driven Life: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking this downplaying of your gifts is holy. Your opinion matters and your impact on the world matters.
By discounting yourself, you’re also discounting the image of God in you, and cheapening it so that it’s harder to accomplish the purposes He has for you.
The Bible says, “The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.” God wants you to be an active part of what’s going on in the larger story of the world.
So, be skeptical of yourself when you start calling yourself “Unimportant.”
Instead, invest time and energy in growing your gifts.
You have amazing things you can offer the body, and you can legitimately change the world around you—if not the entire world. So invest in yourself and in your relationship with the Lord and be willing to say YES to him when he calls you to ACTION.
As a Nine, you’re tempted to take on the opinions of others. Not just because it’s easier to float than to take action…but also because you want to keep the harmony.
But sometimes you don’t actually think what someone else thinks.
And sometimes…it’s about important topics.
Part of your growth process is not only noticing within yourself that your opinion is different, but being willing to disagree.
This can be very hard—especially in ministry, where there’s this feeling that you have to be accommodating to be “Christlike.”
Nines often forget that Jesus flipped those tables in the temple.
A Nine I know told me one of her most powerful growth moments came when she realized Jesus calls his people to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers, and sometimes that means flipping tables.
Sometimes, He’s gonna call you to rock to boat for the sake of magnifying Christ.
Practice letting yourself disagree or have an opinion. Start small, like suggesting a place for your family to eat. And watch how people respect your opinion when you assert yourself—even with the big stuff.
If you’re having trouble, think about this—imagine the roles were switched. Would you EVER be angry if someone disagreed with you? Would you EVER cut off a relationship because someone said no to you? How would you expect a rational person to respond?
Now, remember someone has just asked you to do this. Isn’t it fair to say no? Wouldn’t you be helping them understand good boundaries by saying no?
Practice holding your ground. There are plenty of times when someone will approach you with their own agenda, and you’ll think, “Sure, I guess I’ll do that for them. What I want isn’t really that important anyway.”
This is one way that your “going to sleep to yourself” manifests.
Realize that your opinions and your desires are no less important than anyone else’s. Your task is to disagree when you disagree. Do it for practice on small things. And see how people respect your opinion—and you don’t lose a single ounce of relational equity.
As a Nine, one of the coolest gifts you have is your ability to “merge” with another person. What if God put this gift inside you in order for you to use it with Him?
You might just have a unique ability to connect with God, in a way no other enneagram type does it.
Think about how you do it with people in your life. Then, go off by yourself and try to do it with God. Open yourself up to him and see what happens.
Maybe that means praying. Maybe it’s walking. Maybe it’s journaling. Maybe it’s silence. Maybe it’s worship. Whatever best helps you listen for His voice.
As you merge with God…you may realize he starts to reveal the parts of you that you’ve been ignoring. The parts of you that he wants you to get to know. The parts of you that are his unique image within you.
You might realize God starts revealing parts of yourself that you haven’t gotten to know yet…and calling you to step into your identity.
As he does this, write down what you discover. You may find dormant hopes and dreams. You may find a new passion. You may find something he’s asking you to let go of.
Because as you’re freed up to be more of who you were originally designed to be, you actually gain the ability to love others better, and share the Gospel better, and support the Body of Christ better.
As Nines step into their original design, they wake up to themselves. Healthy Nines are able to be present in a group of people instead of disappearing. They use their voice. They say their opinions when it matters.
They start taking action on the amazing things they’re able to give and cultivate for the world, both within them and outside them, that the world would never see unless the 9 got serious about sharing them.
They are aware that they matter in the world. They’re able to disagree and voice their opinions…but they’re also able to do it in a wonderfully caring way that takes others’ feelings into account.
Healthy Nines show us incredible peace. When anxiety is gripping a community, they’re able to be a calming presence. They’re also able to show up and take action without needing to numb themselves or “go to sleep.”
Nines help the rest of us get to know God’s Shalom in a remarkable way.