By Sam Greer
Senior Pastor, Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga
Emotional intelligence in leadership is critical. Daniel Goleman, in his book, Working With Emotional Intelligence, defined emotional intelligence as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing our emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” In The Emotional Intelligence of Jesus: Relational Smarts for Religious Leaders, Roy Oswald and Arland Jacobson described emotional intelligence as “how we manage our emotions so as to function effectively in relationships.”
Why are these definitions important? Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves wrote “People with the highest levels of intelligence (IQ) outperform those with average IQ’s just 20 percent of the time, while people with average IQ’s outperform those with high IQ’s 70 percent of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the source of success — IQ. Scientists realized there must be another variable that explained success above and beyond one’s IQ, and years of research and countless studies pointed to emotional intelligence (EQ) as the critical factor (Emotional Intelligence 2.0).
II Samuel 19:1-15, highlights just how important (EQ) emotional intelligence is to effective leadership. King David was an effective leader; however, at times, his EQ was higher than other times.
David’s EQ was affected as a father (vv. 1-4). David was not only a king of a nation, he was a father of children. David loved his children. When David heard of his son Absalom’s death, the king began to weep and mourn (v. 1). David’s emotions of grief as a father affected his leadership as king. Although they won, the people’s emotional return from the battle was bathed in grief and shame, which matched that of their king (vv. 2-3). The juxtaposition of David as king versus David as father is apparent as the Bible identifies David as king, but focuses on his sincere cry for his dead son (vv. 4-5). As king, David was responsible for an entire nation, but as a father his heart was broken. As a result, he was authentic and sincere refusing to disguise his grief. (v. 4).
One of my seminary professors told the story of how God warned him of the danger of losing his family for the sake of climbing the ladder in ministry. The up-and-coming professor had lunch with one of his ministerial heroes. The young ambitious professor doted on the well-known author, preacher and scholar. When asked about how great it must be to author so many books, speak at so many conferences and teach at so many seminaries, the older scholar shouted out in anger at the young professor, “Yeah, at the expense of losing my son!” The older professor went on to explain how he blamed himself for his son continuing to serve a long prison sentence. King David’s emotions were raw and real. Pray for your pastor and your staff that they would lead well at home and at church.
David’s EQ was effective as a leader (vv. 5-15). Even when David struggled to be self-aware, he responded well when confronted (vv. 5-8). Like Nathan, Joab, the commander of the army, confronted David. The king responded well (v. 8). David’s high EQ aided him in connecting with people right where they were and leading them to follow him as king (vv. 9-14).
Jesus, the King of Kings, came to this earth not to emphasize his IQ, but to sympathize with us through His EQ. Sympathize with people through your EQ and point them to Jesus!