Seminarians Focus On Emotional Intelligence

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Calvin Theological Seminary students and staff gathered with Chuck Fridsma, a Christian psychologist and leader coach, for the seminary’s first-ever workshop on Emotional Intelligence in Ministry.

The workshop aimed to deepen the participants’ understanding of emotional intelligence and help them to develop more of it.

They learned that an important predictor of how well things go between a pastor and a congregation is the pastor’s ability to work with people.

Today that common-sense insight is much more developed under the rubric of emotional intelligence, in which pastors and other leaders are assessed not only on how much they know (head smart), but also by how well they understand and manage themselves and others in difficult relationships (heart smart).

Important issues include identifying and managing emotions, empathizing with others, dealing constructively with conflict, and listening to and communicating with others in ways that generate trust, enthusiasm, and positive commitment to ministry.

In the workshop, the concept of emotional intelligence was applied to congregational leaders as well as to pastors.

Why is it, Fridsma asked, that some congregations find it so difficult to find people willing to be elders and deacons? And why do people in certain congregations get totally burned out by their service as elder or deacon and vow never to serve again?

How do we create a congregational culture that is encouraging, affirming, and hopeful; and generate enthusiasm for ministry and love for one another?

While much of the focus was on human relationships, the workshop also paid attention to the deep relational capacities Christians have in their union with Christ and the Holy Spirit. Participants left with a deeper self-understanding and a deeper yearning for the fruit of the Spirit and the mind of Christ.

About the Author

Duane Kelderman is interim pastor at Faith Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich. He is a convener of the realignment project described in this article.

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