No one understands you like your heavenly Father does: He sees every question you ask, every concern you make, and every detail you want clarified as all coming from a place of love to make this world a better place. He also knows you are harder on yourself than on anyone else. He gets you and wants to give you hope if you are feeling overwhelmed, which includes helping you identify what you’re not responsible for.
The growth path for Ones includes enjoying every moment without having to evaluate it, and seeing all of life as a thrilling journey filled with spontaneous surprises, laughter, optimism, and deep curiosity. In also includes letting God redefine your definition of good and reorient your version of the “good life” to something beyond your comprehension or control.
Let’s look at how the gospel both affirms and challenges the unique characteristics of your personality type.
The Gospel Affirms Improvers
God sympathizes with the worldview of an Improver. This chaotic world lacks order in many ways and is filled with irresponsible, unethical, and careless people. We need honest, sincere, improvers who will take responsibility and follow through, show us how to be mature adults living in a culture of prolonged adolescence, teach us how to do things correctly and with complete integrity, and demonstrate a faith that works. Therefore, an Improver will be happy to know the Bible affirms the following beliefs:
- God created us to bring order. “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)
- God created us to be disciplined and hardworking. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
- God created us to be honest and reliable. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10)
- God created us to have high standards. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
- God created us to be conscientious. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)
- God created us to live with integrity. “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)
- God created us to be good examples. “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17)
The Gospel Challenges Improvers
The gospel also provides specific challenges to Improvers. Now we’ll explore the most common lies Ones believe and see how the Bible provides much better promises and blessings. We will move deeper into each of these throughout the next 40 days.
- Lie #1: Perfection is attainable. The primary focus of attention of Improvers typically goes to errors or what’s wrong. Even when you are not seeking out mistakes, they jump out at you and scream for your attention. This leaves Ones chronically frustrated with the way things are. As a result, Ones work tirelessly to bring order to chaos. But serenity, the One’s virtue, is not something that can be achieved through hard work; it’s received through union with Christ. The peace of Christ will guard you from being assaulted by the world’s imperfections. Finding serenity, that inward felt sense of goodness and wholeness, doesn’t hinge on improved circumstances, but on relaxing in God’s presence and trusting that He is in sovereign control of all things. Serenity doesn’t turn a blind eye to what needs improving but allows you to enjoy the world as it is because things don’t need to be perfect to be in the presence of love.
- Lie #2: I must be perfect to be good. God created the world and saw that it was “very good”—but Improvers are tempted to say, “I must be perfect to be good.” Therefore, they make an idol out of perfection, clinging to a merit-based system through which they can earn their righteousness and avoid their greatest fears of being wrong, bad, unredeemable, or condemned. Thankfully, the gospel says you are accepted not because your worth is tied to your goodness, but in Jesus Christ, the Perfect One. And whatever goodness you feel you still lack has been fully credited to your account: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- Lie #3: I can’t make any mistakes. The childhood message that Improvers received was, “It is not okay to be wrong or make mistakes.” Believing all flaws are fatal, they are tempted to craft the perfect persona by sewing their own fig leaves, a self-made covering of perfection for self-protection. But the good news is that Jesus died on the cross for you—for your flawed self, not your good, improved self. You have been freed from criticism—including your own “inner critic” that’s always pointing out your shortcomings—and freed to make mistakes. After all, you are perfectly human. Because God accepts every part of you, you must do the same. The paradox of self-improvement is that you cannot change unless you first accept yourself. Then and only then will your relationships be transformed as you become a grace-giver rather than a grudge-holder, championing progress over perfection.
- Lie #4: There is only one right way. The temptation to “be like God” gets expressed in the Improver by taking on the role of judge and seeking to conform others into their ideal image, not God’s. Exaggerating their God-given desire for goodness, they begin defining what “should be,” convinced they alone know the truth about how the world should work. But through Jesus’ death, believers are set free from being terrorized by endless “shoulds.” We are now free to please Him with a myriad of choices while also allowing others to walk in freedom. With God’s help, you can postpone judgment, expressing your convictions while also leaving room for the perspectives of others.
- Lie #5: What I should do is more important than what I want. Because Improvers are prone to asceticism, or the denial and even demonization of themselves and their desires, God wants you to be more selfish in the best sense of the word, pursuing your giftedness rather than being tied down by what you (or others) think you should do. The defense mechanism of Improvers is called reaction formation, which makes them do the opposite of how they feel in order to shield themselves from blame. Ones unconsciously push their “unacceptable” emotions down like a beach ball underwater, presenting themselves in a more socially “acceptable” way. Keeping this mask on indefinitely will only perpetuate the lie that you are not loved for who you really are, but how good you can comply or hold yourself together—and eventually, that ball will burst back above the surface.
- Lie #6: If something’s wrong, it’s my responsibility to correct it. Without God, Improvers carry an unbearable weight on their shoulders to fix everything. Everywhere you look, you quickly see things that need improving in yourself, others, or your environment. The deadly sin or vice of the Improver is resentment, which kicks in when you think no one else seems to care and that you alone must work overtime to cover for everyone else’s complacency. But with God, you will acknowledge that He is ultimately responsible for the world, not you, and be able to slow down, set better work boundaries, spend more time with your loved ones, and prioritize people over projects. Rather than adding responsibilities that God hasn’t asked you to take on, you will create more space for the things that truly bring you joy, finding comfort in the fact that practicing self-care is a form of self-improvement.
As you can see, the gospel will challenge your perception of the protagonists and antagonists in your life. In the Improver’s merit-based kingdom, good behavior is rewarded, bad behavior is punished, and righteousness is earned. Your heroes become those who work harder than others, don’t drop any balls, meet deadlines, and never criticize you (because, after all, you are always right)! Likewise, your villains become those who challenge you to lighten up, go with the flow, take on less responsibilities, and accept that your best is good enough.
God’s kingdom will not be filled with those who proved themselves by being more right than wrong or more good than bad, but rather men and women who received the free gift of righteousness through Christ alone. In this place, judgment is exchanged for discernment, perfection for progress, close-mindedness for curiosity, self-denial for self-expression, and “doing things right” doesn’t hold you back from “doing the right things.” In this place, structure submits to the Spirit, pleasure is pursued over asceticism, and pursuing your own happiness is not viewed as selfish because God’s glory and your good are one in the same pursuit. In this place, you can let go of your frustration with the way life is and instead rest in the Perfect One who says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
Are you still skeptical of the Enneagram? Check out my FREE resource called “Should Christians Use The Enneagram?” where I discuss the roots and origins of the Enneagram.
Next Step: Get the 40-Day Devotional
For the Enneagram One—the Improver—life is all about making everything better. While our increasingly chaotic and careless world needs your integrity and hardworking discipline, sometimes your need for perfection causes you to get frustrated, overwhelmed, and overworked.
Certified Enneagram Coach and pastor, Tyler Zach, offers this 40-day devotional to help you hear from God and actualize your full potential by finding clarity on who you are and where you’re going.
Inside, you’ll discover how to enjoy every moment, go with the flow, pursue progress over perfection, practice self-care without feeling selfish, and let go of your frustration with the way life is and instead rest in the Perfect One who is making all things new. Be prepared to encounter a reliable God who perfectly understands you and invites you into His “good life” filled with joy, optimism, and unexpected surprises.
Get the “The Gospel for Improvers: A 40-Day Devotional for Honest, Responsible Perfectionists” on Amazon right now.
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