Enneagram, Identity & Purpose, Self Enneagram Eight: The Challenger

By Hannah Stapleton


Read the Enneagram series here.

Enneagram Eights are often called The Challenger because of how fiercely bold and confident they are. At their healthiest, you will never find a better champion. But at their unhealthiest, they can be preoccupied with betrayal and are destructive. Part of the Gut/Anger triad, Eights externalize the anger. They like to pick a fight. For an Eight, conflict = connection = energy. You know that one person at Thanksgiving who always likes to stir the pot? They might be an Eight.

The Passion or Deadly Sin of Eights is Lust—the yearn for intensity and energy. This is both their greatest strength and their weakness. Eights take on characteristics of a Five in stress and withdraw; they take on characteristics of a Two in security or growth and they become more outwardly caring.



Kristy Ramsey (KR) and I discovered the Enneagram together, as part of a women’s group we were a part of. Kristy is a paramedic in Orlando, Florida. She grew up in the church and has spent years coming back and forth with regards to religion, mostly due to her work life.

Amy Stempkowski (AS) is married with 2 kids and a dog. Her family has been attending Grace for 6 years. 
Jason White (JW) is a server at St. Elmo Steakhouse in downtown Indy, and he has been in the restaurant business since he was 14 years old. He became a Christian at a young age and has attended Grace with his wife (Dana) of 13 years and their son Michael (11) since 2014. Jason has served at the Grace Care Center each Wednesday morning since February of 2017, and his whole family is involved in the Fuse ministry. He leads a small group of 6th grade boys at the 11:00 service, while his wife works as Fuse security.
What’s your favorite thing about being an 8?
KR: I love the part of me that is more than capable of getting things done. In my 8 world, there is nothing that seems insurmountable if it needs to happen. I'm dependable and that makes life fun.
AS: I’d say my favorite thing about it is the confidence that goes along with it. I don’t mind confrontation either so the combo of the two have helped me from getting into predicaments that don’t serve me.
JW: I would say may favorite thing about being an 8 is the ability to make decisions quickly. In many cases this is a benefit. When I was younger, I made impulsive decisions that backfired regularly. As I have gotten older and gained more life experience, I am able to make more educated quick decisions.
What’s the worst or hardest thing about being an 8?
KR: I hate that I care what people think, despite my outside demeanor seeming like it doesn't bother me. I want people to like me, and that can sometimes drive me to do things I don't actually want to do.
AS: The worst things are also [confidence and confrontation]. They keep me from forming strong relationships with people, and from people from forming strong relationships with me.
JW: The hardest thing about being an 8 is being healthily confrontational. I like to confront problems and conflict head-on, but sometimes I can do this in a way that makes the situation worse by being too aggressive. Sometimes I wish I naturally dealt with these situations in a more level-headed manner.
If you could describe your number in three words, what would you pick?
KR: Dependable. Tenacious. Loyal.
AS: Controlling and Fiercely independent (technically 2 but that’s exactly what I think when I think of 8s).
JW: Energetic, passionate, powerful
When did you know you’d found your number?
KR: When I was first studying it, I wanted to be anything but an 8. We were supposed to listen to the [podcast on 8s] first, but I binge-listened to all of them, and saved the 8 for last because it was the one I wanted to be the least. A lot of 8s feel that way I think, at least in my experience. I didn't want to be the person that people always depended on, and that's so much of what 8 life is like. I knew listening to the podcast that I was an 8 because it was like the speaker got into my head and told everyone my deepest, darkest secrets.
AS: I knew it was my number after a Trader Joe’s employee/acquaintance who is very familiar with the enneagram text me 9 non-numbered passages to read and the one who resonated with me most was an 8. I listened to Annie F Down’s podcast again after that and I totally related with 8.
JW: I knew for sure when I read the 20 statements an 8 might make about themselves in The Road Back to You. I had already taken the test and reviewed the results, but after I read those statements I was convinced.
What’s one thing about your number you think everyone should know?
KR: Being an 8 is the greatest honor along with the greatest responsibility. I love being an 8 and I use it every day to try to make other people better versions of themselves.
AS: I wish everyone knew that although we can be somewhat intimidating, we have insecurities as well and we are loyal as they come.
JW: Eights use anger as a mask of vulnerability and lash out at people to keep from revealing their tender side. People should hang in there just a little longer to build trust and help break down that instinctive barrier.
What’s your wing? How does that play in to your dominant type?
KR: I am an 8w7, meaning I am an 8 who isn't usually afraid of conflict. I take life head on, and don't mind fighting for what is right.
AS: I’m a wing 7, which having a child with special needs this is a great wing to have because it helps make me such an advocate for her.
JW: My wing is 7. I am mostly fun-loving and outgoing, but I am also ambitious, impulsive, and sometimes reckless when making decisions. I tend to be more social than some other 8s.
How does the Enneagram play into your vocation?
KR: I am a paramedic because I am an 8. I work in a male dominated profession where I am expected to take charge, go for it, and take incredible risks. I do that every day and it empowers me and exhausts me all at the same time.
JW: When I am emotionally and spiritually healthy, the positive attributes of my number, coupled with my life experience, uniquely equip me for my volunteer work. Also, I have discovered that I am called to ministry, and I believe that being an eight will help me be very effective in many areas of ministry.
How does your knowledge of Enneagram affect or influence your relationships?
KR: It has helped me be a better version of myself. It reminds me that not everyone is this intense (like I am ALL THE TIME) and doesn't appreciate that all the time. It reminds me that I am accepted just like I am, even when I don’t feel like I did the right thing or am enough.
AS: I’ve been trying to let the Enneagram help me relate/communicate with my 8 (that’s a total guess) husband.
JW: I am still learning how to apply this knowledge to my relationships. As I learn to be more spiritually secure, I am more aware of my interactions with others, and I am more conscious and deliberate about the things I say rather than just speaking “off the cuff”.
How does the Enneagram affect your faith? Do you use it as spiritual practice?
KR: [The] Enneagram is the greatest reminder to me that God factored in my stupidity when He chose to call me to the things that He called me to. God didn't wire me to be a 3 or a 6, but an 8, and it’s my responsibility to be a good steward of that. Its helped me realize my own short comings, in regard to my faith (because an 8 can do anything and doesn't actually need your help ;]) and how to be a better steward.
AS: I wouldn’t say my number affects my relationship with Christ, at least I can’t see how it does. Well it’s hard giving up control, but I do have loads of faith so that makes it a tad easier.
JW: Recently, my life group began a study on the Enneagram. I have come to a better understanding of myself while getting into the study. This has caused me to become more aware of how it relates to my faith and learn to use my strengths to grow more steadfast in my faith. I do consider my personality and how I can tap into the strengths of my wing number and the strengths of my secure/stressed numbers. I have started to be aware of when I am moving toward those other numbers and discovering what triggers those movements. This helps me to be more in control over my emotions as I pray and journal about it each day.
How does the Enneagram bring you closer to God?
KR: It reminds me that I was knit together, just like this, for some purpose in the world. 8s are big on social justice and advocacy and that rings especially true with my heart, and it brings me closer to God in the process.
JW: As I grow spiritually and work on staying in the healthy zone of my number, I find that it is easier to stop and rest in God’s presence and hear His voice. The voice of the Holy Spirit is more evident in my daily life, and I feel more confident in the choices I make and the prayers I offer up.
What are some resources you would offer to other 8s?
KR:  That all of us feel inadequate at some point. That the voice in the back of your head that says, ""why me?"" is a voice that will help keep you grounded when it’s easy to let power get to your head. No one is going to come in and out you and say ""You have doubts, so you aren't good enough"" even when your brain is telling you that.
AS: I think the Annie F Downs podcast is a great resource.
JW: Serving at the Care Center has been great experience for me. I have been given a volunteer leadership position that has been wonderful for my growth as an eight. I have learned to serve with humility and have had the opportunity to work with some students who require varied communication techniques. Journaling is a practice I have taken up. I have never been very good at journaling or disciplined enough to do it consistently. Writing down things that happen, feelings, revelations of God’s presence in my life and prayers has really helped me to reflect on situations that arise so I can learn how to navigate them using strengths instead of weaknesses.

Resources for 8s:

The Enneagram Institute
Sleeping at Last “Nine”
Typology Podcast
The Road Back to You Podcast interview with Sarah Bessey


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