The Apostle Paul’s EQ: Not much different than Trump?

First, let me say this is not an endorsement of Donald Trump nor is it an insult to the Apostle Paul. In my continuing series analyzing Bible characters’ emotional intelligence (EQ) I was surprised when I asked a few people, “Who is most like Paul that we see  in the news today? Most said, “Donald Trump.” Why you say?

To say that Paul was passionate is a major understatement.

He was taught at a young age in the ways of Gamaliel who was a Pharisee of Pharisees. A teacher of the law and a Rabbi who knew the Torah like few of his contemporaries. Paul would learn the Torah and the Law of Moses, and God would use this knowledge to make the case for Jesus being the Messiah.

So, how is Paul different than Trump? In terms of EQ, it is my opinion ther are two things that separate the two: self-regard and interpersonal sensitivity. Trump seems to demonstrate a much higher self-regard than Paul had of himself. Although we could speculate that in Paul’s early life he was pretty puffed up. All of Paul’s life I could also make a case for his insensitivity to people who disagree with him or rejected him. The same could be said of Trump. Paul was certainly like this until his 30s and Trump at 72 years old continues to demonstrate poor interpersonal skills. Trump is more grandiose and it has been said his behavior is consistent with narcissism. I don’t know the man but those who are close to him say he is very likable.

Paul’s Personality and Life Line

Paul was direct and quick to confront; and, at times hostile to those who disagreed. Paul’s boldness led him to be persecuted like few others in the leadership of the church. The beatings and stonings would not dissuade Paul from his work.  He wrote most of what has been canonized as the New Testament. Below is a brief summary of his life:

  • Born around 10 AD in Tarsus

  • Studies to be a Rabbi and travels to Jerusalem as a teenager

  • In his twenties he actively persecutes the Church

  • Meets Jesus on the road to Damascus and converts to Christianity

  • Immediately begins teaching that Jesus is the Messiah

  • Around 39 AD travels in Cilicia, Syria, and possibly Greece

  • Between 46-48 AD takes first missionary journey

  • 49-52 AD second missionary journey

  • 54-58 AD third missionary journey

  • 58 AD arrested in Jerusalem

  • 60 AD taken to Rome

  • 64 AD released. His travels are a bit of a mystery

  • 67 AD arrested again and would be executed in Rome

Great leaders have great emotional intelligence

Some of those elements are marked in bold as follows. Minimally strong leaders know their mission (self-actualization) and have little tolerance (flexibility) for those who disagree with them. They operate independently. They have sufficient self-regard but usually don’t think too highly of themselves. Their approach varies with their audience but in all cases are focused on making their opinions known. Most of these same leaders are very direct and many lackempathy for any other view. All such leaders have a keen sense of reality. They are usually very assertive, have a vision greater than self and are excellentproblem solvers. I think all of this could be said of the Apostle Paul in his latter years. I’m not so sure this could be said of Paul prior to his conversion to Christianity. Here is my assessment of Paul’s EQ, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is only my opinion based on my understanding of scripture:

Paul’s Emotional Intelligence

Element: Low/Mid-Range/High

Self Regard / Mid

Self Actualization / High

Emotional Self-Awareness / Mid

Emotional Expression / Mid

Assertiveness / High

Independence / High

Interpersonal / Low

Empathy / Mid

Social Responsibility / High

Problem Solving / High

Reality Testing / High

Impulse Control / Mid

Flexibility / Low

Stress Tolerance / High

Optimism / Mid                

Wouldn’t you love to work with such a leader?

Not me! This was especially true in Paul’s youth. He was brusque and when angered turned into a murderer. It seemed there were no limits to the length Paul would go to further his agenda.

Any similarities to Donald Trump?

While Paul’s itinerary changed when converted to Christ his behavior changed little, especially at first. In fact, there is a story in the ninth chapter of The Book of Acts of the Apostles. “He began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.” (v. 29) Paul was quickly dispatched. Paul then traveled to Jerusalem and, “He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him.” (v. 29) Again Paul would be ushered off. The writer of Acts tells us, “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace.” (v. 31) My assessment is this is due to Paul’s departure.

Are you this type of leader?

Are you experiencing turnover with your direct reports? Is your supervisor telling you that everything you are saying is right but the way you say it is repelling? What is your spouse telling you? These people are commonly called “High D’s” when assessed using the DISC personality test. Or, they are referred to as overbearing, domineering or any synonym matching this description.

Not long ago I was playing the peacemaker with two people who work closely together. The first person to speak is exactly as I’ve described above. After he spoke I told him everything he just said was true; but, I went on to say, “the way you said it is completely lacking grace.” Truth without grace is combative. Grace without truth lacks honesty.

I don’t know about you but I want a partner in a boss, someone who is a better coach than authoritarian and someone who is willing to listen and collaborate. These qualities did not manifest in Paul for much of the New Testament.

None of us are perfect and all of us could use some straight talk about how we might improve. Who are you working with to understand your strengths and weaknesses? Your emotional intelligence?

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