This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Network YouTube channel. This is part 2 of 4 in the Emotional Intelligence for Pastors series.

Emotional intelligence is basic to ministry success. But we’re all flawed people with our own emotional baggage and blind spots. So it helps to be aware of four particular problems that commonly show up in pastoral ministry that have the power to undermine healthy emotional interactions.

The Problem of People-Pleasing

When we are driven by the opinions of others and the desire to be liked or esteemed by them, we tend to deny our own feelings. We stuff our own values or convictions in order to make others happy. This undermines emotional intelligence by making us less aware of our emotions. People-pleasing overrides our healthy response to our own feelings.

The Problem of Emotion-Faking

Many pastors feel the pressure to maintain an unflappable “pastoral persona.” People expect us to have it all together, and we like to portray that image. But to maintain that persona, we must deny or repress our own feelings. We don’t allow ourselves to feel anger or discouragement, and we certainly don’t want others to see us that way. This undermines emotional intelligence by thwarting our ability to learn to identify our feelings and to respond appropriately. The result is that our personal emotional energy is drained, and we lose the opportunity to be nurtured and encouraged by others.

The Problem of Lack of Reflection

When we get going too fast, we become too busy to take the time necessary to identify and think about our emotions and the emotions of others. Reflecting on what just happened in a relationship, what we and others are feeling, and why, helps us be more intelligent emotionally. But lack of reflection undermines emotional intelligence by keeping us from being more in touch with our feelings and those of others.

The Problem of Conflict Avoidance

Most people do not like conflict, and pastors are no exception. But avoiding conflict results in a failure to face and address our emotions. Those emotions can begin to control us if we’re not willing to acknowledge and deal with them.

Take some time to think about these four emotional intelligence landmines. If you are aware of them, you can keep them from stunting your emotional growth.

[Related Series: Self-Care for Pastors]

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. Which of the four emotional intelligence landmines best describes you, and why?
  4. What are some ways that pastors might fall prey to people-pleasing?
  5. How does people-pleasing undermine emotional intelligence?
  6. Identify some reasons why pastors engage in emotion-faking.
  7. How does emotion-faking contribute to poor emotional intelligence?
  8. Think of an instance when time taken for reflection helped you better understand your own emotions or the emotions of others? What happened?
  9. What are some of the emotions that make conflict unattractive to you?
  10. What happens when those emotions are not identified or dealt with?
  11. In which of these four landmines have you seen the most growth? Explain.
  12. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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