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The Rev. Timothy Cargal, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Stated Clerk for Preparation for Ministry in Mid Council Ministries of the Office of the General Assembly.

“... the Land that I Will Show You” is the blog of the Office of Preparation for Ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This blog is designed to serve as a resource for those discerning and preparing for a call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament as ordained teaching elders of the church. It will also provide a place for reflecting on and dialoging about the changing context of pastoral ministry in the early 21st century.

For quick announcements about changes or developments in the preparation process, dates related to exams or other key events, discussion boards, surveys, etc., you can follow us on Facebook at “Preparing for Presbyterian Ministry.”

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October 19, 2012

Emotional Intelligence in Ministry

Emotional Intelligence logoThis fall the Office of Vocation has been partnering with the Center for EQ-HR Skills in a very small-scale study of the use of instruments that assess “Emotional Intelligence” with ministers and those preparing for ministry as teaching elders to promote awareness of how these skills contribute to leadership effectiveness.

As summarized by Daniel Goleman, one of the early and leading figures in this field, emotional intelligence is the capacity for recognizing one’s own feelings and those of others, for motivating one’s self, for managing emotions well in one’s self and in one’s relationships with others. The interrelationship between these capacities is often presented as interactions between four quadrants:





Self- Awareness

Social Awareness


Self- Management

Relationship Management






 Those who have worked in this field emphasize that emotions play a much greater role in determining actions than we generally “think”; that is, culturally we emphasize the role of the intellect and rational thought in actions, but no actions happen apart from emotional input. They will cite a clinical case where an individual who literally had the connections between the emotional (limbic) and rational (neocortex) centers of the brain severed as a result of surgery could lay out all the possible options but was unable to decide upon a course of action from among them.

Research in this area has shown that while one’s intellect (intelligence quotient, or “IQ”) is the strongest predictor of what field or occupation someone will enter, it is not the best predictor of success within a particular field. If people lack the intellectual capacity to handle the “cognitive complexity” required in certain jobs that place high demands on specialized knowledge or training in advanced technical skills, then they will not be hired for those positions. But once a person enters a profession the strongest predictor of success and/or leadership is emotional intelligence (or “EQ”) because solid performance depends on how well people handle themselves and their relationships with others.

Given the highly interpersonal nature of ministry, it makes sense that emotional intelligence would be a key factor in effectiveness in pastoral and other ministry contexts. And the good news is that EQ—unlike IQ that is generally considered fixed within a limited range for each person—can be increased by focused attention on different dimensions of our self-awareness and self-management and of how we attend to the emotional cues in our interactions with others.

Our study is looking at whether a particular tool for assessing EQ can help those engaged in ministry to understand better their own ministry effectiveness and identify areas for growth that would strengthen their ministry. My question here is, What do you think? How would you rate the relative importance of IQ and EQ in ministry? Would having a clinically established tool for assessing EQ be a useful addition to personality inventories and intelligence tests that are currently widely used in the discernment of gifts among those under care in the preparation for ministry process?

Categories: Leadership Development, Ordained Ministry, Ordination Process