Last Sunday my grandson Jack came to hear me preach.
He sat on the front row with his dad.
Grandma even lent him her iPad during the service to help him get through the service.
However, the thing about my four-year-old Jack is that he thinks it’s all about him. He was more interested in the glowing Nike logo on his new shoes than anyone else’s needs.
And that’s to be expected.
Or to coin another phrase, he’s emotionally dumb. OK, that’s harsh, let’s go with emotionally unintelligent.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your own emotions and also connect to the emotions of those around you.
Basically, it means being mature.
It’s is a phrase popularized by Daniel Goleman in his bestselling book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
What Are The Three Main Components of Emotional Intelligence?
Awareness: you identify your own feelings and also recognise the emotions of others.
Harness: you use your emotions in a mature way in everyday life especially when it comes to solving problems.
Manage: you healthily control your own emotions and also work effectively with other people regardless of their emotional state.
While Goleman brought emotional intelligence to a wider audience it was John Mayer, along with Peter Salovey, who introduced the theory of emotional intelligence in two 1990 journal articles.
Mayer describes someone with high EI as a person who has the capacity to:
a. reason about emotions
b. solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly
c. accurately perceive emotions in faces
d. know that sadness promotes analytical thought and so they may prefer to analyze things when they are in a sad mood
e. know that angry people can be dangerous, that happiness means that someone wants to join with others and that some sad people may prefer to be alone.
I think Christians should be familiar with the concepts of EI because it is basically an unpacking of Jesus words, love your neighbour as yourself Mark 12:31.
Appropriate self-love leads to the true love of others which is the foundation of EI. Therefore pastors and Christian leaders should seek to excel in EI.
Four Ways To Grow EI
1. Practice observing how you feel
Ask yourself once a day, “How am I feeling today?” This simple exercise will help you get in touch with your various emotions.
2. Express your feelings
Use the phrase, “I’m feeling ….” to describe your current state.
Prayer can be an excellent place to do this as you share with the Lord your feelings.
You may, like David, pour out your complaint (Psalm 142:2) or sing for joy (Psalm 147:6). Either way prayer is a safe place to express and thus define your feelings.
This will lead to you getting more familiar and comfortable with them.
Now please avoid the extremes of telling everyone, everywhere, everything you’re feeling or bottling it up and not telling anyone at any time how you’re feeling. That’s definitely not emotionally intelligent.
3. Know yourself
Understand your good and bad points, your weaknesses and strengths, your abilities and limitations. Consider the gifts Christ has placed in you. Reflect on them. Analyse them. Appreciate them. Consider your limitations and imperfections. Meditating on these will cause emotions to arise and help you be at ease with those emotions as you recognise contentment and dissatisfaction are a normal part of life and must be managed.
4. Practice empathy
Learn to pause when someone shares their grief-filled story of pain and heartache. Ask questions. Be interested. Pray with and for them. Express concern and sorrow. People with high EI never ignore a person’s pain but connect with them, compassionately expressing love and concern.
My grandson Jack will continue his journey of maturity and one day will be like his mum and dad, emotionally intelligent.
Hopefully, he’ll still want to be hanging out with his grandad.