Before going any further, let’s return to author Daniel Goleman’s definition of emotional intelligence – known since the author’s previous book, Emotional Intelligence – as EQ:
EQ refers to “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”
It includes self-awareness (knowing what we are feeling in the moment), self-regulation (handling our emotions well and recovering quickly from emotional distress), motivation (using our values to move and guide us toward our goals), empathy (sensing what people are feeling), and social skills (handling our emotions in our relationships well and using skills for cooperation and teamwork, to persuade and lead, negotiate and settle disputes).
Goleman’s bottom line contention in both books? “Many people who are book smart but lack emotional intelligence end up working for people who have lower IQs than they but who excel in emotional intelligence skills.”
We shouldn’t need this book because the Bible calls for emotional intelligence skills and qualities (without using these terms, of course) in its descriptions of Christian character and in its lists of qualities required of Christian leaders in such passages as Titus 1:5-9, I Timothy 3:1-13 and II Timothy 2:24-36.
We shouldn’t need this book because the Holy Spirit gives believers in Jesus the power to overcome the influence of indwelling sin and actually live out these God-honoring, intensely practical skills and qualities.
Many years ago, some great materials I’d received from a seminary about the pastor search process maintained that the two things that churches most desire in their pastors are preaching skills and people skills, or, in other words, emotional intelligence. I don’t think this has changed, and the need is greater than ever.
We actually do need this book because the vitally important EQ skills emphasized by the author are ignored in too many Christian training programs. We have emphasized IQ and raw knowledge and paid little attention to the qualities and skills needed to get along with and lead real people in the real world.
We actually do need this book because scores of professional and volunteer Christian leaders have been placed in positions of great responsibility, demanding the utmost in EQ skills, and have floundered on the shoals of emotional immaturity. Many pastors are asked to leave, not because they can’t preach, but because they can’t get along with people.
We actually do need this book because church leaders need to take EQ skills very seriously, not only in the selection of professionals – such as pastors – but in the selection of lay leaders as well. The poor EQ of one church leader can be devastating to the team leadership efforts of a cadre of devoted elders or staff members.
We actually do need this book because the author has concrete suggestions for testing for EQ and setting up self-guided training regimens to help motivated individuals attain the EQ needed for their current or preferred future roles.
Finally, we actually do need this book because the author, sounding somewhat like the writers of Scripture, maintains that EQ – unlike IQ – can be improved profoundly through intentional effort and even tends to improve naturally throughout life.
Not every Christian leader will want to wade through all 316 pages of Working With Emotional Intelligence, but those tasked with developing Christian leaders for the present or the future would do well to take a good look at this book.