J. Marshall Jenkins

Author, Therapist, Spiritual Director

Learning from Donald Trump

5440002785_7b1ed0ac3e_bBlessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

I do not know who Donald Trump is. Most who think they do probably don’t. Who knows whether Trump himself does?

We know only an image of a perpetual showman swaggering from casino to ringside seat to reality show where he lustily fires aspiring managers for his empire when they fail to follow the rules of the jungle. Now this persona takes to the presidential campaign stump, spraying expletives and bigoted blathering to the delight and approval of a sizable minority of the Republican Party.

Last fall, I attended the annual meeting for college counseling center directors in Chicago, and some of us went to the Art Institute of Chicago for our afternoon to play. En route a skyscraper with TRUMP plastered in giant letters across the glass loomed before our shuttle. Predictably, the busload of therapists launched into spirited discussion of narcissism.

Because of his millions, we grant Trump license to broadcast himself. Not that we like his grandiose caricature, or more precisely, not that we admit that we do. I classify the sound of his voice with fingernails on the chalkboard, the sight of his puckered glower and red dome of hair with an oil spill. But that says more about me than it says about The Donald, whoever he is.

Carl Jung surmised that we find those persons most obnoxious who exhibit qualities we despise in ourselves. Deep within resides an exiled alter ego who believes the only hope is to accumulate as much wealth, seek as much pleasure, exercise as much power, and exalt myself as much as possible in the eyes of others. Then die. This shadow side prefers that desperate game with clear objectives and rules to one relinquishing ultimate control to an unmanageable but loving God who offers eternal purpose and joy on unimaginable terms.

The persona of Donald Trump reflects a side of me that prefers for God to stay on the sidelines and let me play by my rules. Yet, that shadow side is not the real me. I want a life grounded and surrendered, not trapped on a treadmill of building and promoting myself, but free from myself, free to love. That’s the pattern of life Christ lived and bid us follow, a meek way.

Too often I look more like a poor version of The Donald. Meanwhile, I don’t know the real Donald Trump. For all I know, he volunteers in soup kitchens incognito. But I suspect that God sees me for who I really am, just as God sees Donald Trump for who he truly is, beloved, blessed, invited home.


Photo of Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. by Gage Skidmore. See Photo By Gage Skidmore via http://public-domain.pictures/


J. Marshall Jenkins

About J. Marshall Jenkins

J. Marshall Jenkins is an author, psychotherapist, teacher, and spiritual director. For several years he has been writing on the Beatitudes for people in emotional pain, publishing biweekly here on his Beatitudes Blog at http://www.jmarshalljenkins.com. His newest book, Blessed at the Broken Places: Reclaiming Faith and Hope with the Beatitudes, is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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9 Replies

  1. Very well said, bringing it home to where we live.

  2. Michael Parnell

    He is no different than I. He and I are sinners in need of grace.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Ironically, only the meek can acknowledge the inner Donald, whose image is the opposite of meekness.

  3. Cinda McGuinn

    I guess I need to work on being meek enough to acknowledge the inner Donald. I’m far from perfect and he just (as my sweet mama would have said) makes me want to ooop.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Well, I know you, and anyone with your record of participation in nonviolent resistance and your humble charm can expect to inherit the earth with the rest of the meek folks, no inner Donald required. 🙂

      1. Cinda McGuinn

        Why, thanks, what a nice thing to say.

  4. Joan Stevens

    Very thought-provoking and insightful comments regarding Trump. We all might have a “Donald Trump” within. However, I hope that Trump’s upfront example of rudeness, mockery, and lack of civility towards others will serve as an alarm regarding the shadow side of ourselves that can cause much damage to ourselves and others. I am so thankful that Christ has called us to a “better way” that builds up, rather than tears down others. May God give us all the grace we need to live out of such love, rather than out of fear, hatred and competition.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      We only dare get in touch with the inner Trump because deeper and fuller still is the imago dei, the image of God. Christ awakens us to ourselves as bearers of the divine, and Christ dwells within us. So when we look within and find lesser aspects of ourselves, we need not fear. We can acquaint ourselves with those darker elements and succumb less and less to them, confident that ultimately the light will eclipse the darkness, love will prevail over fear and hatred.

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