I'm a 1 with a 9 wing. You enneagram fans now know a lot about me. However, the rest of you might feel like I'm speaking another language. I found out I was a 1 when I took the enneagram test during a conference I was attending several years ago. The test I took labeled the 1 as "The Reformer." I LOVE being first and I love to reform things so I felt really good about these test results.
Fast forward a year later and I heard people talking about this enneagram book, "The Road Back to You," by Ian Cron. I found myself wanting to learn more about this reforming ability I had. I listened to it on audible while cooking in the kitchen and riding in the car over a series of a couple of weeks. I remember being in the kitchen and hearing the author describe 1's as "Perfectionists." Um. No. I didn't like that at all. I was a reformer, not a perfectionist. I wasn't critical and nit-picky like other perfectionists I knew. I was a simply a reformer, seeing what was not right and making it right. But in the middle of my argument with Ian Cron I found myself getting annoyed that someone had put the cinnamon back in the wrong place (because all my spices are in matching jars and kept in alphabetical order). It was like a punch in the gut. That was the point that I realized I really am a perfectionist.
As I have come to terms with my perfectionistic nature, I have learned a lot about myself. One of the dangers of being a perfectionist is that I can prioritize the product over the people. I can get so caught up in making sure the product is "right" according to my "perfect" standards that I can isolate people along the way and diminish the effort they contribute toward the end result. Here are 5 reasons why we are called to prioritize the people over the product and push past perfectionism.
1. The people are the product. At The Chapel we say that people are not tools to get jobs done, jobs are tools to get people done. Jobs and tasks are opportunities to help people grow- in their leadership, in their faith, and in their relationship with God. The reason God gives us things to do isn't because He needs us to get them done; they are to help us grow. The people are the product. When I think the end result is the product, I'm missing God's plan to develop the people.
2. What I see as broken, God sees as beautiful. God knows we are all messy and broken, yet He gives us the opportunity to engage in His work nonetheless. He sees our imperfect efforts as beautiful gifts of love when we use them for His glory. When I discount others' efforts as imperfect and not good enough, I fall into the trap laid by my huge blind spot. My own "perfect" ideas and products are also flawed and broken. It's not until I see my own imperfection in the light of His beauty that I can appreciate how the imperfect efforts of each of us is valued by Him.
3. God's expectations exceed my expectations. As a perfectionist I can tend to be an "over-expector" (a label given to me by my son when he was five years old). I overlay my personal expectations of myself onto others and assume they should live up to my standards. How prideful! God knows what each of us needs and His expectations of us in any circumstance are going to be based on His timeless truths, our situation, ability, and gifts. He knows us intimately and personally- He tells us His burden is easy and his yoke is light. It's not my responsibility to saddle anyone else with my burdens or my yoke. His expectations of each of us are just right for who we are, where He is calling us to go, and what He hopes to accomplish in our lives.
4. My way isn't the only way and it may not be the right way. Perfectionists often see one "perfect" way that will lead us to the "perfect" product. We really are convinced we know what's best. In drinking our own kool-aid we deceive ourselves into thinking we really do have "the" answer. Very few things in life just have one answer and one "right" way. Things are far more flexible than we often want to admit. When we humble ourselves to invite diverse opinions and different types of thinking into our planning, it challenges us to look at alternatives and broaden our options. We are able to see the many ways God is working in the world.
5. God's intended result is the only perfect result. He can do vastly more than I can ever ask or imagine! If I think my view of the product is the "perfect result," I leave no room to be surprised at what God can do when I give Him the room to adjust my plans! He is awesome. He sees the bigger picture. He knows what is best. He is perfect.
Maybe you're not a perfectionist like I am. Maybe you are. Either way, as we lead others and help them grow in their relationship with Christ, we are called to value people more than the product; the relationships more than the tasks. God made us human beings, not human doings. He calls us to become more like Him- perfect and holy. When we realize none of us are there yet, it opens us up to an appreciation of the work God is doing in each of our lives and helps us value one another- where we are, what we do, and who we are in Him.