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This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Network YouTube channel. This is part 1 of 4 in the Emotional Intelligence for Pastors series.

Emotional intelligence (EQ for short) is a concept popularized by Daniel Goleman in his book by that name. Goleman and other researchers have shown that success in most human endeavors requires people to not only be smart (IQ), but to also be able to work with other people. Emotional intelligence has to do with how we handle our own feelings, and with how we deal with the emotions of others. This is certainly relevant to pastoral ministry, but pastors are not always taught emotional intelligence in seminary.

Describing EQ-Self

The first aspect of emotional intelligence deals with our own feelings. Are you in touch with your own emotions? Do you recognize what is going on in your emotional response to life’s situations? That includes being aware of and able to identify your feelings. It also includes being aware of how others experience your emotions through your nonverbal signals. Someone with emotional intelligence is willing to receive feedback without being defensive, and is increasingly able to manage his or her feelings appropriately.

Describing EQ-Others

The second aspect of emotional intelligence deals with the feelings of others. This includes the ability to discern accurately what others are feeling by reading their verbal and nonverbal cues. It also includes responding to those emotions constructively.

Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important

Emotions are a vital part of what it means to be human. They are part of the image of God. Yet we all have emotional deficits and sinful emotional patterns that get in the way. Of course, ministry involves working with people. That means we will always be dealing with people’s emotional world. And our emotional state as leaders can set the tone for the whole congregation. Thus relational perception and skills are paramount. This applies not just in ministry, but as part of the overall well-being and satisfaction in life.

Some people are more perceptive of emotions than others. Some respond better than others. But emotional intelligence can be learned. As you face the obstacles and learn some helpful practices, you will become more effective at ministry. Ministry is people – including their emotions.

[Related: Caring for Your Emotions| Self-Care for Pastors #2]

[External Resource: Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman]

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. Do you agree or disagree with this statement, and why? “EQ is more important in ministry than IQ.”
  4. Do you think emotional intelligence is more of a learned skill or an inborn trait? Explain.
  5. Why do you think some people are more aware of their own emotions than others are?
  6. Name the emotions you have felt in the last 24-48 hours. How did you respond to each one?
  7. Who gives you feedback about how your emotional tone comes across to others? How have you responded to that feedback?
  8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how perceptive are you of the emotions of others? Explain.
  9. How can you become more perceptive of others’ feelings?
  10. How will it benefit your life and ministry to become more aware of other people’s emotions?
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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