This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Network YouTube channel. This is lesson 4 of 4 in the Emotional Intelligence for Pastors series.

Three basic practices can help pastors develop greater awareness of their own emotions and the emotions of others.

Prayer and Worship

Spending time in prayer and worship helps develop emotional intelligence because we gain a larger perspective of reality. We gain clarity as we consider God and his perfections. We also benefit from emotional calm that comes from God’s presence. Prayer and worship help us learn to rest in God’s care in difficult emotional situations, as we focus on his sovereignty and love.

[Related: You’ve Tried Fighting with Everything but Prayer]

Reflective Practices

You can grow in emotional intelligence by slowing down in order to engage your feelings. Through reflection, we become more aware of our emotions and the emotions of others. One reflective practice many find helpful is journaling. Writing about our emotional life helps us accurately identify the emotions within us. Even if you aren’t in the habit of journaling, it could be very helpful during times of particular emotional stress or turmoil.

One worthwhile focus of emotional reflection is to explore the influences of your family background and upbringing on your emotional life, and how you react to your own emotions and the emotions of others based on what you learned from your family.

Receiving Feedback from Others

Other people can help us see more clearly how we are responding to our own feelings and the feelings of those around us. They can point out responses that we might not be aware of. If you’re married, your spouse can be a great asset in this regard – if you are humble enough to hear. Don’t just wait for others to point out your emotional response. They might not feel like they have permission to speak into your life. Be willing to take the initiative to seek out feedback from the people closest to you.

All of us can grow into greater emotional intelligence. As you become more aware of your own feelings and the feelings of others, you will be more likely to thrive in ministry.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Talk about a time when, in prayer or worship, you gained a new perspective about your emotions. What happened?
  4. How can a fresh view of God help develop greater emotional intelligence?
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how often do you take time to reflect on your emotional life? Explain.
  6. What reflective practices do you find most helpful?
  7. How would you rate the emotional intelligence of your family growing up, and why?
  8. What emotional patterns did you pick up growing up in your family?
  9. Who gives you feedback about your emotional life? Give an example of how their feedback has been helpful to you.
  10. Whose feedback do you need to pursue, and why?
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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