To Test a Man’s Character, Give Him Power

Samson: a man with low impulse control.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a mans character, give him power.” The strongest man of the bible is certainly a testament to this principle. Samson was very well known for his strength. I first learned of Samson when watching the 1950 movie, Samson and Delilah. After becoming a Christian in my 30s I would learn the real story of Samson. You can read it for yourself in the Bible in Judges 13 -16. How would you judge this mans character? I do not intend to tell the entire story here but rather to discuss Samson’s emotional intelligence.

Below is my assessment of Samson’s EQ:

  • Element / Rating
  • Self-Regard / High
  • Self Actualization / Mid Range
  • Emotional Self-Awareness / Low
  • Emotional Expression / High
  • Assertiveness / Mid Range
  • Independence / High
  • Social Responsibility / Mid Range
  • Empathy / Mid Range
  • Interpersonal Relationships / Mid Range
  • Impulse Control / Low
  • Reality Testing / Low
  • Problem Solving / Mid Range
  • Flexibility / High
  • Stress Tolerance / Low
  • Optimism / Mid Range

Analysis Of Solomon’s EQ

I think we can find agreement in Samson’s self-regard as being very high; perhaps, due to his ability to control any opponent up to and including killing a lion with his bare hands. There are at least two other people in the Bible who killed lions and both were armed. David, the second king of Israel killed a lion as a shepherd, and later David’s bodyguard, Banaiah, “struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen.”

You may disagree with my assessment of his emotional expression, assertiveness and flexibility being high. We may also disagree with my assessment of the categories I classified as low: emotional self-awareness, impulse control, reality testing and stress tolerance.

While I could make my case for these ratings, I think we can agree that Samson had a tendency to do things in a big way or no way at all. He allowed his wife to convince him to tell him the answer to the riddle he asked the Phillistines. Later Delilah tried to trap him three times by asking him the source of his strength. Judges 16.16 tells us, “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death.”

Many times great strength has it’s corresponding great weakness. Samson was great in strength but had an anger problem and thought about the ladies a little too much, yet he kept the Phillistines at bay for 20 years.

How does this kind of leader show up today?

Let’s look at someone who has high self-regard and low emotional self-awareness and low impulse control. What behavior might we expect with this profile? They may think too highly of themselves; their strengths, abilities and talents. Leaders with low emotional self-awareness and low impulse control can be “self-centered, self-indulgent, self-consumed and insensitive to the needs and concerns of others.”1 So they think too highly of themselves, are self-centered and self-consumed. What kind of friend does such a person make? Or, who wants to work for such a person? All of this said, this person could make significant changes and improve their results with the awareness that these factors are keeping them from experiencing the results they could achieve.

How about your self-awareness? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses as it relates to your emotional intelligence? If not, what keeps you from taking steps for improvement?

For more on emotional intelligence

1. Hile Rutledge, EQ Workbook, 2011, page 13