The Power of Emotional and Relational Wisdom

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How does one build ministry relationships that truly transform people’s lives?

In an earlier article, in order to answer that question, I examined Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. Clearly, he powerfully impacted her life; so much so that she immediately evangelized her entire village!

How did he do that?

With a little examination, one can see that Jesus’ interaction with the woman combined elements not so easily categorized: his awareness of her and her situation, his supernatural insight into her history, his wise approach to arousing her interest and piquing her curiosity, his compassion, empathy and love.

Factors both human and divine converged. I expressed this idea in a formula:

Connection with God and Scripture + Emotional and Relational Wisdom = Transformational Ministry

Connection with God and Scripture

Without a connection with God, we have no spiritual power at all. Unfortunately, however, many of us, including clergy, struggle to maintain our quiet time, our prayer life, our devotional Bible reading. Surely, then, this would be the starting point. We can’t impact others for Christ unless we are walking in union with him.

Emotional and Relational Wisdom

What is “emotional wisdom”? I simply mean connecting with people at an emotional level. Empathy for others, the ability and willingness to be moved with compassion. Surely it is impossible to build powerful ministry relationships without such things.

As for relational wisdom, God is a God of relationship. He is the Great Reconciler. He desires connection with us. He calls us to various expressions of ministry yet the main focus always comes down to one thing: reconciling others to God.

Transformational Ministry

In short, ability to interact with people in such a way that they actually transform – actually change, actually become different and better people – requires an intersection of the divine and human. It requires and emotionally intelligent pastor walking in close communion with Christ.

Of course, as a psychologist, my message and ministry focus on helping clergy develop greater emotional and relational wisdom. That’s my area of expertise.

Emotional and relational power helps us engage people in the mission of the church, inspire them to be used by God, manage conflict, and lead change.

The skills and habits of emotional intelligence -- paying attention to emotions and self-talk, identifying and mastering your hot buttons, improving your listening skills, and so many others –truly matter.

They are no substitute for walking daily with Jesus but they are powerful tools in the hands of a pastor committed to building relationships that transform lives!

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