Christianity and Enneagram Podcast Number 1 - The Perfectionist

Series: The Enneagram and the life of Faith

February 23, 2020
Langdon Palmer

This podcast is part of our series “Honest to God: The Bible, The Enneagram, and Why you do the things you do” Today we explore the Perfectionist, a way of being in the world that has many good attributes including a strong commitment to right and wrong and being responsible. We turn to the story of Saint Paul as a helpful example of this personality type and then turn to Romans 7 for beautiful, encouraging words for those who are wired with this personality type. See the show notes for key images and quotes. See for the whole series

Episode Notes

Summary Traits of the Perfectionist:

Core Need: The need to be perfect              
Core Desire: To be good/balanced/ have integrity
Core Fear: Being Corrupt/Defective/Deeply Flawed  
Self-Image: The Reformer
Primary Temptation: never ending search for perfection
Root sin: anger
Typical Quote: “Hey, do I have to do everything myself?”

Perfectionists are conscientious, ethical and ordered with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are idealists in the sense that they bring to all of their experience an implicit sense of “how things should be.” Ones are people of action. They are driven by standards and they naturally critique and judge firstly themselves and then others. Afraid to make mistakes, they are driven to perfection by the frame that they are deeply flawed, and they need to prove to the world that they are not.

PAUL SAID: “If anyone else thinks he has 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 legalistic righteousness, faultless.” – Philippians 3:4-6

JESUS SAID: The Pharisees… tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders… "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-- mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-- justice, mercy and faithfulness… "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.…
 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing…” - Matthew 23:4-37

 PAUL SAID: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out…making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-- through Jesus Christ our Lord! … Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” - Romans 7:15-8:1


  1.  To awaken self-compassion, try to capture in a journal the typical things your inner critic says to you and then read them aloud.
  2. Resist the urge to give other people to-do lists or to redo their tasks if you think they haven’t met your standards. Instead, catch the people you love doing things right – and tell them how much you appreciate them for it.
  3. Pick up a hobby you enjoy but are not especially god at doing – and just do it for the love of it.
  4. When you are ready to correct an injustice or right a wrong, first ask yourself whether the passion you feel for that issue is really misplaced anger about something else.

Shout outs and credits:

This series draws heavily from “The Road Back to You” by Cron and Stabile
Music Credit: Star Trek Deep Space Nine Beyond the Stars
Ending Perfectionist prayer from Matt Brown
For more resources, go to

Content Copyright Belongs to Langdon Palmer