Nurturing Emotional Intelligence


Our lives would be so much easier if we were leading a team of robots. Right? Robots are obedient. They are use to being directed. They rarely make mistakes. They are predictable and safe. They work hard and efficiently. They don’t have emotional responses. Instead, we lead highly complex, highly diverse and highly emotional beings.

What is EQ or Emotional Intelligence?

“Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, assess and control one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and that of groups.”

— Daniel Goleman

Without an awareness and management of your own emotions, you will fail to see, hear, influence, and lead others around you well. Good news, EQ can be learned!

The Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence:

Self-Awareness — What I see about myself. (This progresses to…)
Self-Management— Who I am and what I do.
Social-Awareness (Others Awareness) — What I see about others. (This progresses to…)
Relational-Management (Others Management) — Who I am and what I do for others.

What is an emotionally unhealthy leader?

A person with low EQ will likely

  • have difficulty listening to others.
  • use stonewalling, or refuse to see other’s points of view.
  • quickly they becoming argumentative or blame others.
  • believe that others are overly sensitive, especially one who has EQ.
  • have a difficulty maintaining friendships and relationships with others.

Just watch the TV Series The Office to see humorous but unhealthy EQ. Likely you’ve been around someone like this. Maybe you’ve exhibited some of these characteristics yourself.

Think of building a skyscraper. First you got to dig down deep in the earth and build a foundation before you can build up. Without a proper foundation cracks will appear and the building will eventually crumble. Emotions (inner life) affect leadership (outer life).

What do we learn about EQ from Jesus?

Jesus helps us see clearly what God’s emotions look like with skin on. The gospel writers paint a portrait of Jesus using a kaleidoscope of brilliant “emotional” colors. Jesus felt compassion; he was angry and indignant; he was troubled, greatly distressed, very sorrowful, deeply moved, and grieved; he sighed; he wept; he groaned; he was in agony; he was surprised and amazed; he rejoiced very greatly and was full of joy; he greatly desired, and he loved.

Jesus redeems emotions. Sin may have stained emotions and you may become enslaved to them, but the death and resurrection of Jesus redeem emotions. Jesus has the power to put to death the harmful effects of hiding our emotions and raise them to a new and different life.

Jesus gives you power to mature your emotions. Emotions are a gift from God. They are a part of who you are. You are made in the image of God and that includes emotions just like Jesus. Through the Spirit of Jesus within you can mature emotionally.

Jesus leads by example. See how Jesus sees someone need. Hear how Jesus hears others. See Jesus compassion for the woman with decade long ailment. Listen to his interaction with the Centurion. Read the Gospel of John and it will show you a really emotional side to Jesus.

How can I nurture EQ right now?

Without an awareness and management of your own emotions, you will fail to see, hear, influence, and lead others around you well. So what can you do right now to nurture your EQ?

Pause. Have you noticed how much God calls his people to rest, to wait, to sabbath, or to be still? We exhibit hurriedness out of “doing” instead of “being”. Pausing is a rhythm of a healthy emotional leader. I have found that taking a pause to be the single most helpful tool in nurturing EQ.

First, pause to consider your need for the Lord. Reflect on the gospel. See how Jesus saw the Father. Pull away. Take a break from the crowd. Get into your garden. Listen to the Lord. This pause is the root of life for yourself (and others). This is the Great Commandment, “to love God (with your whole being)…and love others as you love yourself.”

Second, pause to consider your own emotions. Take periodic pauses during the day to assess your emotions and how your body feels. God designed your body as a good indicator of your emotions. Explore where that is coming from. A few weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic after a series of days of crisis within Chad. I could hear shortness of my breath, I could feel tightness in my chest. I paused. I breathed. I named my fear. I prayed to the Lord. And I was able to return to a place of peace and joy. I am growing in awareness and working through my emotions. Unlike robots you and I need pauses. (Establishing these rhythms can take 6-12 months).

“Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s emotions, than capturing a city.”

— Proverbs 16:32

Third, pause to consider the emotions of others. As you sit in a team meeting or in a one-on-one with a team member notice their emotional responses. Give them space to express their emotions. Make it safe and okay to be vulnerable. Listen reflectively and explore why they feel this way. Ask if there is more. Learn what it is they need or what they need from you.

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