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A Different Kind of Smart: Emotional Intelligence

There are different kinds of ‘smart’. Some are good in math. Some are good in art. Some can make beautiful things with their hands or fix cars. But the kind of smart I want to talk about is emotional intelligence. Research shows that emotional intelligence has four basic parts. Firstly, be aware of your emotions and understand why it is you’re feeling angry, fearful or sad. Ask yourself “What am I really reacting to in this situation”? God wants to touch that spot. Secondly, manage your emotions when upset. Strong feelings cloud our perceptions. Are you thinking about the situation clearly? Instead of venting anger on your friend, practice Matthew 18, and go tell them calmly how their behavior impacted you with the aim of restoring the relationship. Thirdly, try to understand other people’s emotions. Fourthly, respond in a wise and loving way…like Abigail in 1 Samuel 25.

In this story, there is only one person that showed emotional intelligence and that was Abigail, the wife of Nabal, whose name means ‘fool’. Living up to this he denies David’s request for food and water after David’s army protected Nabal’s sheep and shepherds. David gets mad, grabs his sword and plans to kill all of Nabal’s men. These two men both had their brains high-jacked! Abigail correctly perceives the danger, loads up the camels with rations and goes to meet David. She doesn’t tell him to ‘calm down’. Instead she agrees with him, asks forgiveness and appeals to both his mind and heart. “When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself”. David listens, and refrains from violence.

What are some ways to increase your emotional intelligence? Journal. Get to know yourself. Write down what you’re feeling without censorship, and bring these emotions to God. Pour out your heart (Psalms 62:8, 142:2, 1Samuel1:15). Yeshua was a man well acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Develop empathy. Just for a moment place yourself in the other person’s shoes. Prayerfully decide whether to take action or drop it. Forgive. It’s the path to freedom.

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