Forty Days on Being a Five – Morgan Harper Nichols

Forty Days on Being a Five by Morgan Harper Nichols
Series: Enneagram Daily Reflections #5
Published by IVP on August 17, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Devotional
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What is it like to be an Enneagram Five? Instagram poet and artist Morgan Harper Nichols reflects on this question in a spirit of honest self-assessment and with a desire for personal and spiritual growth. She draws wisdom from the deep wells of counseling and spirituality using illustrations from both Scripture and life. Each of these forty readings concludes with an opportunity for further engagement such as a prayer, a spiritual practice, or a reflection question. Morgan's art enhances the readings as well. Any of us can find aspects of ourselves in any of the numbers. The Enneagram is a profound tool for empathy, so whether or not you are a Five, you will grow from your reading about Fives and enhance your relationships across the Enneagram spectrum.

This book shares brief reflections about how Christians who type as Fives in the Enneagram personality system can move towards a state of emotional and spiritual health in their everyday lives. The daily readings are typically two or three pages long, and are quick perspectives that pack a punch. Some of them end with reflection questions, others end with prayers that the author has written, and others suggest personal practices that readers can consider. The readings are all from Morgan Harper Nichols, a writer, poet, and artist, and she grounds her reflections in both Scripture and what she has learned from her life experiences. She also includes small sketches on some pages, and I enjoyed the artistic touch. Forty Days on Being a Five is a thoughtful, encouraging devotional book for people who share Nichols’s Enneagram type, and for those who relate in general to her introverted personality.

Personal Evaluation

I type as a One, not a Five, but I still connected with many elements of Nichols’s experiences. Although she illustrates her points with personal stories, she chooses examples that represent general traits, instead of being too specific to elements of her background that other people might not connect with. She writes in a compelling way about her growth towards spiritual and relational maturity, emphasizing core experiences and truths that other Fives or analytical introverts can relate to. I especially appreciated what she wrote about her struggles to fit in with social groups, and the pressure that she would put on herself to be prepared and well-researched before talking with people or engaging with issues. I related to many of her reflections about accepting God’s love and grace, and learning to see yourself as adequate the way that you are, regardless whether your personality seems ideal in society.

Audience Considerations

Unlike some of the other books in this series, Forty Days on Being a Five is accessible to people regardless of their preexisting awareness of or interest in the Enneagram. If someone wants to buy this for a loved one who they think is a Five, I would still encourage them to provide additional resources to explain the Enneagram, but this book rarely uses insider language or presumes an intricate awareness of the personality typing system. Nichols doesn’t even reference the Enneagram in many of the readings, and simply uses it as a jumping-off point to share reflections about her personality, personal growth, and relationships with God and others.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how consistently Nichols wove Scripture into her reflections. In my reviews of other books from this series, I noted that even though they would make great supplementary reading, they wouldn’t be a replacement for a book that directly engages with Scripture. Forty Days on Being a Five is truly a devotional, however, with at least one Bible verse connected to every reading. Nichols also shares example prayers, and the book provides a holistic perspective on how faith connects with our lives. I would highly recommend this book to Enneagram Fives, introverts, and fans of Morgan Harper Nichols, and I’m thankful that I had a chance to read it.