In the light of God’s presence, you can see your shadow self. But most people hide their shadow and so it brings them pain and problems.

Jesus’ best friend John had a problem with his shadow. He was usually friendly, considerate, and supportive of others — probably a Helper 2 on the Enneagram — but when he served a Samaritan town and they rejected him, he flew into a rage and wanted God to send lightning to incinerate them! (Luke 9:52-55)

His dark shadow took over and undermined his loving doctrines and intentions.

How well do you know your shadow self?

The Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung taught that we all have a shadow self. Your shadow is the unconscious aspects of your personality. When we deny our faults, weaknesses, hurts, sins, desires, or needs they lurk in our shadow. Surprisingly, many of us also repress our good qualities, healthy pleasures, and abilities — especially if we’re insecure, anxious, or feel shame.

The more aspects of our self we deny, the larger and darker our shadow — and the more stealth power it has to defeat our good intentions. Minimizing or dismissing unwanted feelings and qualities always disrupts our connection to God and his grace.

We talk a great deal today about the importance of love, but truth and honesty are just as essential. As the prophet Jeremiah pointed out, “God can’t heal what you don’t feel.” (Jeremiah 6:14, paraphrase)

When you rely on Christ your Savior to help you “accept” your shadow you experience new vitality, peace, creativity, and capacity to love God and others.

There are many ways to get to see your shadow and bring it to Christ for mercy, redemption, and integration into your personality:

  • Listen to your dreams (See my article on “Interpreting Your Dreams”)
  • Notice what bothers you about other people and realize the projections that are actually about you (Matthew 7:1-5)
  • Pray with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart..” (Psalm 139:23)
  • Learn your Enneagram Type with its shadow

Many Enneagram users today miss its power to help them because they want to focus on the outward and positive aspects of their personality and not the dark side.

The Enneagram theory is based on the Bible-inspired insights of the Desert Father Evagrius in the 4th Century who identified our common deadly sins. He saw that different personality types were formed around different habitual patterns of distrusting and disconnecting from God’s love and truth.

Whichever of the nine Enneagram types best fits you, it will predict that you’re denying a particular root sin, with a related negative emotional posture and core need:

Perfectionist 1’s deny their resentment and their need for pleasure and freedom.

Helper 2’s (like John above) deny their vanity and the importance of asking for what they need.

Achieving 3’s deny the deceitful image they portray and their need to receive grace for their true self.

Individualist/Romantic 4’s deny their envy of others and their need for emotional balance.

Observer 5’s deny their greed for more knowledge or money and the importance of being assertive and expressive.

Questioning/Anxious 6’s deny their fears and their need for courage.

Enthusiast/Hedonistic 7’s deny their problems and pain and their need to learn grateful moderation.

Challenging 8’s deny their lust for power and their need to be vulnerable and tender.

Peace-making 9’s deny their numb detachment and their need to activate.

By bringing our Shadow Self into the light of God’s presence we can flourish in God’s love, joy, peace, and power.



Bill is a psychologist and ordained pastor, specializing in ministry to pastors.  He was personally mentored for many years by Dallas Willard and Ray Ortlund Sr. 

As a Spiritual Formation Pastor, he’s served in a mega-church and a church plant. He’s also trained over 1,000 lay counselors and taught courses in Christian psychology and spirituality at the graduate school level.  He and Kristi train pastors and other men and women in ministry in their Soul Shepherding Institute and Spiritual Direction certificate program.

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