Let’s play “Would You Rather?”
Would You Rather…
- have a spouse who waits to react when offended, or one who immediately flies off the handle?
- have a friend who asks questions and listens well, or one who never stops talking?
- have a seven-year-old that leaves a playground when asked, or one who needs 30 minutes of cajoling?
- have an employee who takes your feedback to heart, or one who shuts down at the smallest critique?
How’s your heart rate? Everyone OK out there? I know my questions sound super judgy—because let’s be honest, no one is perfect. Not my seven-year-old and not me. I’ve spent entire coffee dates obliviously talking about myself. But the fact remains; it’s nicer to be around people with higher levels of emotional intelligence.
So what is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” I recently read Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman, and was blown away by this book. Although published in 1995 (I was in elementary school!), the book continues to be groundbreaking. It discusses why teaching our children emotional intelligence is arguably more important than their IQ. Emotional intelligence has been researched and part of our educational system for over a decade, but we are still learning its importance for both our personal and professional lives.
Emotional intelligence begins by learning to recognize emotions as you experience them, and then exercising self-control with your reactions. And here’s the great news; emotional intelligence (as compared to IQ) can be taught. With education and practice, a child (or adult) can become more emotionally intelligent. A person with a high level of emotional intelligence is empathetic, encouraging, self-aware, motivated, self-regulating and skilled socially. She is aware of her feelings, and in control of her reactions. She has integrity with her commitments and is able to “read a room” and adjust. She avoids manipulative relationships and has personal boundaries and limits. She says what she means.
If these characteristics sound familiar, it’s because this stuff is all biblical.
Jesus calls us to have self-control with the help of the Holy Spirit. He asks us to put the needs of others before ourselves, to be an encourager, to be quick to apologize and quick to forgive. He asks us to be discerning and careful listeners. We are to have control over our thought life and our impulses. We are not to be reckless with anger, pride, greed, jealousy and lust. Jesus calls us to choose a life of joy, no matter the circumstances. He showed us how to properly mourn, and choose hope for our future. If we are to carefully follow the path of Jesus, our emotional intelligence is likely to flourish.
Ask God to help you grow in your emotional intelligence. He promises His Holy Spirit will be our guide, and He gives us wisdom when we ask for it. The Bible gives us commands for how we should behave and horror stories about those who act on impulse, so reader beware! It’s a gift when current research like Dr. Goleman’s book affirms our spiritual goals. If we’re to truly carry out Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations and bring His Word to the lost, we need emotionally healthy Christians to do it.
Recommended reading material:
- Boundaries by Henry Cloud
- Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero