Enneagram Type ONES are commonly known as “The Perfectionist,” “The Reformer,” or “The Idealist.” Ones see the world in black and white, with little room for gray. Things are either right or wrong, good or bad, perfect or imperfect. Ones are always in pursuit of perfection as a way of controlling their environment.

Ones will straighten picture frames at a friend’s house.

Ones have a strong sense of justice and are greatly concerned with moral and ethical uprightness. When this is externalized, Ones can be some of the greatest advocates for human rights and positive change in the world. But when it becomes internalized, Ones become their own worst critics.

The world isn’t perfect, so Ones take it upon themselves to help make it better. But when Ones do something wrong they jump to thinking that they are bad, and so their anger and frustration gets directed inward.

Listen to me, Ones. There is a difference between saying “I did something bad” and saying “I am bad.” The first is a true statement that can lead to positive transformation. The second is a lie straight from the devil’s own mouth.

It’s no surprise that the Pharisees in the New Testament are portrayed as a very “One” group. If you just pay attention to the interactions Jesus has with them, you see that the Pharisee sect was very concerned with doing all the right things in the right ways. The Pharisees served as the moral backbone of Jewish society. The problem is that Ones can get a bit carried away with it.

Ones have a tendency to act very judgmentally toward others. Ones are often pointing out others’ faults and saying what others should or should not do. They expect perfection from others, but they can’t even obtain their own standards of perfection.

Can you see why Jesus was trying so hard to break them out of this cycle in regards to religion?

Jesus would say things like, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, then you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” That must have really grated on the nerves of those religious elites. How could anyone be more righteous than they were? Can you believe this guy?

In the same sermon Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Now that’s the language of a One. That’s something the Pharisees could get behind. But what’s the context of that statement? Loving the unlovable. Accepting those who are imperfect. Welcoming those who don’t have it all together. Investing in those whom you deem “lesser.”

The Pharisees couldn’t stand the things Jesus was saying, but also many Pharisees became his followers. I can see why. Jesus was trying to break them out of this need for moral and religious perfection in relating to God. That flew in the face of everything they were teaching. But once they actually listened to Jesus, they found that the true path to freedom and relationship with God lay not in keeping the laws perfectly but in loving God and others more fully.

I don’t think this effect was more profound on anyone than Saul of Tarsus, who would become Paul the Apostle. Paul is the classic example of a One. His journey is one from severe unhealth (anger, resentment, judgmentalism, perfectionism) to true health (love, acceptance, and service to others).

Listen to Paul’s words in Philippians 3 and tell me this doesn’t sound like the words of a One who has undergone a major transformation.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:4-14)

Ones are affected early in life by the message that they have to be “good” and do things “right” in order to be accepted. Paul had to learn that there was nothing he could do to earn God’s love. It didn’t matter how impressive his resumé or how solid his theology was. It would never be good enough. He could never be perfect enough.

Ones need to hear and really internalize the truth – you don’t have to be “perfect” in order to be “good.” Even in the very beginning (Genesis 1) God didn’t say his creation was “perfect.” He said it was “good.” There’s a difference.

Paul still struggled daily with the unhealthy habits and patterns of thoughts/behaviors of a One. He still had to fight off that inner critical voice (Romans 7). He still had to remind himself and others that love was the true calling, not religious perfection (1 Corinthians 13). He would still get angry and lash out at those who opposed him or simply refused to listen to his message (see basically the whole book of Galatians and the second half of 2 Corinthians).

But Ones don’t give up. Ones keep going, no matter what. When a One finds his/her true calling, there is nothing that can stand in their way. Paul faced beatings, imprisonments, and shipwrecks, but he was committed to his calling.

Redeemed, healthy Ones can literally change the world.
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Be sure to check out the song “One” by the incredibly talented Sleeping at Last.

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