How to Lead Volunteers: The Reformer (Enneagram One)

Learn to lead and motivate those around you, whether you or those you lead have an Enneagram One personality.
5 min read

As ministry leaders, we are not exempt from the mistake of thinking that everyone looks at life the same way we do. Indeed, we assume the volunteers we lead have similar needs and are driven by the same desires.

This sometimes makes it hard for us as ministry leaders to understand the unique motivations, concerns, and styles of the staff and volunteers we serve.

On the surface, the Enneagram looks like any other personality test. It features nine distinct ways of looking at the world. But it also examines the unique ways each type responds to living in this broken and often confusing world.

Ones believe that life is about doing your best and striving for goodness and order. They have lofty standards for themselves (and others) and feel most comfortable when working in a highly structured environment.

The Enneagram doesn’t just describe a person’s personality. It also helps us understand what motivates him or her. It encourages us as ministry leaders to be mindful of our perspectives—and those of our teams—in a way that can help us:

  • Identify the strengths and challenges of the individuals on our teams
  • Create harmony and operate more effectively
  • Maximize everyone’s contribution
  • Inspire team members with guidance that empowers and invigorates

This series of articles will improve your ability to lead and manage your staff and volunteers. If you’re unsure about your Enneagram type or want to give the test to your volunteers and staff members, you can take a free online assessment like the one at YourEnneagramCoach.com.

How to Use These Articles

This series of articles examines each of the nine Enneagram types, and includes the following elements:

  • Attributes: Three adjectives that describe each type.
  • Driving motivation: This section helps you understand what desires and fears drive a specific type’s behavior.
  • Key verse: Each personality type has a verse with a helpful reminder to turn their attention to God.
  • About the type: This is a brief overview of each type.
  • Leading as your type: Each personality has unique strengths as a leader. Here we examine those strengths and offer some suggestions for overcoming the corresponding weaknesses.
  • Motivating each type: For example, if you’re a Type Eight trying to understand how to motivate a Four, this section will help.

These resources will develop your skills as a leader and manager and enable you to develop a strong team.

Type 1: The Reformer

Attributes: Conscientious, Idealistic, Self-controlled

Driving motivation: To be above reproach

Key verse: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4, NIV).

About Ones:

Ones believe that life is about doing your best and striving for goodness and order. They have lofty standards for themselves (and others) and feel most comfortable when working in a highly structured environment.

While a disciplined, well-organized, rules-oriented environment might stifle some personality types, that’s precisely where the One feels most comfortable and at peace.

Happy young businesswoman cheering in office
Image Credit: Westend61/Poland/Getty Images

In fact, the desire to be useful stimulates the One to bring order out of chaos. So they cannot abide disorganization or confusion. If there’s a more efficient way to accomplish a goal or perform a task, they’ll find it.

They are very practical and don’t feel overly comfortable with unstructured concepts or abstract thinking that doesn’t offer tangible, realistic next steps.

Empowered with a strong sense of right and wrong, the One can often come across as critical and demanding—but they are way harder on themselves than they are on others.

Leading as a One:

Because your behavior comes directly from your inner values, you are extremely consistent and fair. As a One, your boundaries are easily identified and understood, and you create a working environment that just “makes sense.”

But be extremely wary of the “if you want anything done right, you’ve got to do it yourself” mindset. Not only does this put your team in danger of burnout, but it can cause resentment and hurt feelings.

So as a One, you need to know how to delegate well. Sometimes that means learning to be comfortable with “good enough.” Pushing a team to achieve perfection can make you unproductive.

The One’s demand for perfection can create an uncomfortable environment—especially among volunteers who are just trying to be helpful. It’s also essential for Ones in Christian ministry to recognize that people are more important than systems.

Whether you’re dealing with children or adults, remember that not everyone operates at peak efficiency in a strictly controlled environment—and forcing them to can create tension and stress.

Motivating a One:

Ones love structure and clearly defined roles. They want to prove that they’re valuable and will feel frustrated if they don’t know what you expect of them.

Before Ones can be effective, they will need to evaluate the current systems and methods and likely suggest changes. Understand that they function best when their working conditions make sense to them.

Leadership Concept With Paper Airplanes
Image Credit: Eoneren/E+/Getty Images

Don’t be offended if a volunteer One comes into your environment and starts suggesting changes. In fact, giving them as much leeway as possible in this area might benefit everyone.

Nothing sucks the life out of a One more than being in a position that thrives on chaos and spontaneity.

Ones need the to be able to manage the structure and details in their environment. If a One finds herself in an unstructured environment, her priority will be to bring order to it. If she’s not allowed to do so, she’ll struggle to be productive and might shut down or drop out.

Building Better Teams

People operate best when they’re in roles where they really fit. So a lot of a church’s ministry struggles come from filling vacancies with whoever is available.

Hopefully, the Enneagram will help you better understand your management style—and how you can position people according to their strengths. Because teams that fit together well can help churches thrive!

Valuing the various personalities in our churches empowers us to do better ministry. Once we understand the rich diversity of our churches we can:

  • Appreciate the balance that comes from our various strengths
  • Quit struggling to copy the leadership styles of others and lead from our own strengths
  • Organize our teams so that everyone gets an opportunity to do great work
  • Abandon a one-size-fits-all approach to encouragement and empowerment

Ready to learn how the Enneagram can help you inspire your volunteers? The Enneagram is all the buzz right now, and we want to equip you to use it to motivate your folks for service! We’ve covered all 9 personality types, with helpful tips and Scripture verses.

Go to The Helper (Enneagram Two) article. >

Discover this Series

Enneagram Engaging Volunteers cover

Discover the Enneagram’s Surprisingly Simple Approach to Engaging Volunteers

Ready to learn how the Enneagram can help you inspire your volunteers? The Enneagram is all the buzz right now, and we want to equip you to use it to motivate your folks for service! We’ve covered all 9 personality types, with helpful tips and Scripture verses.
Free Guide
Enneagram Engaging Volunteers cover

Discover the Enneagram’s Surprisingly Simple Approach to Engaging Volunteers

Ready to learn how the Enneagram can help you inspire your volunteers? The Enneagram is all the buzz right now, and we want to equip you to use it to motivate your folks for service! We’ve covered all 9 personality types, with helpful tips and Scripture verses.
Free Guide
Enneagram Engaging Volunteers cover

Discover the Enneagram’s Surprisingly Simple Approach to Engaging Volunteers

Ready to learn how the Enneagram can help you inspire your volunteers? The Enneagram is all the buzz right now, and we want to equip you to use it to motivate your folks for service! We’ve covered all 9 personality types, with helpful tips and Scripture verses.
Free Guide
post article end mark
  Updated on September 4, 2020

About the Author

  • Your Ministry Spark Team is made of ministry volunteers, leaders, and experts who work with David C Cook. We’re passionate about helping others know, love, and follow Jesus. And, we have a big heart for those who serve the kingdom—that’s you. Together, we can do this!

© 2020 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
© 2019 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
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