Paul: Portrait of an ENTJ

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An ENTJ is someone who is:

  • Extroverted: Gets energized by spending time around people.
  • INtuituve: Focuses on ideas and concepts as opposed to facts and processes.
  • Thinking: Makes decisions based on logic and strategic thinking.
  • Judging: Prefers structure and order.

Of all the personality types, the ENTJ is most suited for leadership. When it comes to mobilizing and directing others, they’re naturals. Depending on their maturity and emotional health, they will lead with great skill and sensitivity, or they’ll lead like a dictator-but the chances are that people are going to rally around them.

ENTJs have a unique ability to see what needs to be done and create the structure required to accomplish it. They’re decisive and resolved. And when they’re challenged, they’re adept at proving that they’ve thought through all the potential problems.

Paul the ENTJ

Luke gives us a lot of information about Paul in the Book of Acts, but we also get a glimpse into his character from his many Epistles. Paul was a big personality and quickly became a vital force in the early church. And it’s his style of leadership that helped the church grow so fast.

Here are some reasons it’s safe to assume that Paul was an ENTJ.

1. Paul always inspired followers

The first time we see Paul, it’s in the seventh chapter of Acts. Luke calls him by his Hebrew name (Saul) and tells us that when the Sanhedrin stoned Stephen (the first Christian martyr), witnesses who got involved stripped off their outer garments and laid them at Paul’s feet (Acts 7:58). This not only tells us that Paul approved of this action (Acts 8:1), but it demonstrated that he was well known and respected.

Almost immediately, we see Paul going from house to house dragging off Christian converts and throwing them in prison. Luke tells us that Paul wasn’t doing this alone. He’s singled out because he’s going to have a life-changing interaction with the risen Jesus-but he’s also singled out because he’s leading this persecution.

Paul went to the high priest and requested that letters be sent to the synagogues in Damascus to alert them that he was coming to arrest any Christians in their communities. Paul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, which tells us that even the high priest recognized Paul’s leadership and agreed with his strategy (Acts 9:1-4).

After Paul is converted, the disciples are nervous (Acts 9:26). Maybe this was all an elaborate trick to infiltrate the church. Almost immediately, Paul starts wandering around Jerusalem and telling others about Jesus, nearly getting himself killed by some Hellenistic Jews.

From this point on, the momentum of the New Testament shifts from Jesus’s disciples toward Paul. While he still respects the authority of Peter and the others, Paul begins to grow in influence and overshadows the others.

None of this is Paul’s intention. Instead, it’s a function of his personality and his calling. When an ENTJ sees a need or an opportunity, they jump. They immediately strategize a plan to solve a problem or capitalize on a specific opportunity-and people are drawn to their common-sense solutions and enthusiastic plans.

2. ENTJs aren’t overly sentimental

It’s interesting to look at how Paul views his past life. He was born to Jewish parents but was also a Roman citizen. He studied Jewish law under a well-known and much-respected rabbi. He was well on his way toward becoming a Pharisee of some renown. But when he meets Jesus, he abandons his past completely without any sentimentality.

ENTJs aren’t prone to fits of nostalgia or romanticizing the past. When new and better information comes, they quickly and easily abandon what no longer makes sense. They’re always looking toward the future. When Paul writes to churches about turning from their old lives and embracing their new identities, it’s from the perspective of an ENTJ for whom the process is effortless.

This helped Paul embrace his new identity so profoundly and communicate, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ …” (Philippians 3:8).

3. Paul wasn’t overly concerned that he was liked

When ENTJs are convinced they’re doing the right thing, the only thing that’s going to convince them otherwise is better information. Once they lock their eyes on an outcome, they’re like a dog with a bone. The last thing they’re concerned with is whether everyone supports or even likes them. In the end, they know they’ll be justified by what comes about.

We see this throughout Paul’s ministry. He wasn’t afraid to take risks that resulted in beatings and stonings. In his letters, he had no problem calling out individuals who were undermining the gospel (and therefore his mission), sometimes by name:

“I appeal to Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).

When Paul receives word that some doubt his apostleship, he insists to the church at Corinth that this simply isn’t justified. He assures them that he is not inferior to the more esteemed apostles and tells them that this has been proven with signs and wonders (2 Corinthians 12:11-12). Others might worry that this doesn’t appear very humble, but not Paul. His work depends upon his reputation, and he will defend it.

When others come into the church demanding that Christians observe Jewish law, especially circumcision, Paul lets them have it. He even goes as far as saying, “As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves” (Galatians 5:12)! This is the strong language of someone so secure in his mission that he doesn’t care who he upsets.

In many ways, the single-minded focus of the ENTJ is admirable-but it can also be a curse. Sometimes the ENTJ lacks the interest and sensitivity to work through intricate personnel problems, which means that they leave hurt feelings and angry people in their wake. And the time they were trying to save by being abrupt and forceful gets spent trying to smooth over ruffled feathers.