Sunday, April 27, 2014

Emotional Intelligence & the Church by Rupert Hayles

In writing this review, I must disclose that Rupert Hayles is an instructor and soon-to-be coach in my life.  In preparing for my coaching sessions on emotional intelligence, what better way than to read my mentor's book?

That being said, I applaud Rupert's bravery.  His research is thorough, but I must say that I feel that the strength of this book lies in his self-disclosure and the story of his personal journey through emotional awareness. 

In this book, Rupert seems to have purposed to (1) explain emotional intelligence to those unfamiliar with it, (2) make the case for how emotional intelligence fits with Scripture and our Christian faith, and (3) give examples of life challenges and changes that we may resonate with, and finally (4) share what he learned in his spiritual life and in the area of his emotions, giving us hope for life change of our own.

For those unfamiliar with emotional intelligence (EQ) - here is Salovey and Mayer's definition:  "...the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional meanings, and to reflectively regulate emotions in a way that promotes emotional and intellectual growth." 

To simplify: it is how you and I understand our own emotions, how those emotions affect those around us, and how we can regulate our emotional responses so that we do not alienate others around us or hurt ourselves.
Your success in life is based largely on your EQ...not your IQ. 

I believe that the most direct Scriptural comparison might be the Fruit of the Spirit.  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  I like Pete Scazzero's idea that you cannot be spiritually mature and emotionally immature at the same time.  You must do the hard work of addressing your emotions/emotional responses in order to grow more deeply in your life with Christ. 

Thus - enter EQ 360 testing...

EQ testing shows us two things: (1) how we perceive ourselves and (2) how others perceive us.  It is a "360-degree" evaluation that reveals the GAPS between what we think of ourselves ("I am very empathetic!" and what others might see ("that guy really doesn't care how others feel!").  For many, it can be an extremely eye-opening experience.  Our self-perceptions are not so reliable as we might think.

As I mentioned -the strength of this book is Rupert's candor about his own struggle with anger, how its impact on others was revealed to him through an EQ 360 evaluation, and how that desperately painful realization moved him toward profound brokenness and change in his life.  As Rupert states, "I was a Christian who had been serving the Lord for decades; however, I did not have the tender, gentle character Christ had.  It took confrontation."

Some may wonder - why should I bother being evaluated for my emotional intelligence?  The primary goal of EQ assessment is self-awareness.  We all have blind spots, and generally speaking, the high cost of blind spots is that we hurt others without every realizing it, and run the risk of losing significant friendships or opportunities in our lives as a direct result of our lack of self-awareness.  And as believers, those blind spots may be the areas where Christ most longs to transform us into His character.

"Emotional self-awareness is the ability to recognize my feelings, to differentiate between them,  to know why I am feeling these feelings and to recognize the impact my feelings have on others around me." 

If you are already familiar with EQ - and have no concerns over its ability to mesh with Biblical teaching, I suggest you need to read only Parts I, V and VI to get the best out of this book.  For those of you who are new to this topic - settle in for a long read - but there will be several (as I say) "nuggets" and "ah-ha" moments to greet you along the way.

I am awaiting the results of my own 360-EQ evaluation.  God have mercy! :)

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