Over the years, I have met numerous church leaders who have seen their ministry fall apart. I have to wonder, What could they have done from the very beginning to assure that they would not only stay on target but keep the whole venture together?
I believe the answer is emotionally intelligent leadership, or as I like to refer to it, emotionally mature leadership. Our emotions are critical to effective ministry in general and leadership in particular. How you feel impacts how you lead. How followers feel about themselves when around you affects how well they follow your leadership. It takes emotionally intelligent leadership to inspire the best in us, to arouse passion, and to keep us motivated to serve our Savior as leaders in Christ’s church and beyond. Yes, effective leaders cast vision and design powerful strategies to help the church advance. Highly effective leaders, however, move us. They lead through emotions.
My experience is that not many churches have in place a pathway for developing leaders at every level in their churches. Some talk about it but fail to deliver. Seminaries are not much better. Very few seminaries address how to develop leaders, and those that do emphasize a more formal cognitive, intellectual approach that includes training in Bible knowledge, languages, theology, church history, homiletics, and Christian education, most of which takes place in a classroom environment. Not that these are bad in themselves, but they need to be balanced with the more noncognitive, relational skills that are vital to excellence in leadership.
It’s not intellectual versus emotional, but the two working together. What we desperately need is training that intentionally seeks to bolster the leader’s emotional side, which deeply impacts their relationships with those whom they lead or desire to lead.
Much of the work on emotional intelligence today is being done by those who make no profession of the Christian faith. My desire is to challenge Christian leaders to become more aware of, understand, and manage their emotions and those of others so that they can be emotionally mature leaders who relate well with and truly inspire their followers.
How do you react to the idea of leading with your emotions? In what ways do you express or respond to emotions differently in different parts of your life—family, ministry, friendships?