Many churches, it seems to me, believe they are purpose driven, gospel focused and working together for God. In reality, however, they are actually driven by the egos of the individuals in the church. What is lacking is not a grasp of the gospel but a grasp of self. Christians can have low EQ, emotional intelligence, the ability to make sense of our emotions, desires and motivations and those of others.
The reason we lack EQ is because understanding of self is developed through the observation of people, of self and others, including biblical characters, rather than being found explicitly in scripture per se. The bible must be read and applied. We can make bible reading and study as an end in itself without doing this work of applying its teaching to self. Scripture does make sense of why we do things; we are sinners, either under grace or under wrath. Scripture puts our sinful behaviour in the right context of faith in Christ and obedience to him. But, where does scripture succinctly describe my own set of deep, personal motivations? It doesn’t. Scripture leaves it to us to exegete ourselves, finding what really makes me tick by thinking about my feelings and actions. I need to exercise EQ in light of scripture if I am to grow in Christ’s likeness.
For my marriage to work, my family to grow, my church relationships to be more healthy and to be able to connect with unbelievers I need to know myself and them. EQ is described by some as:
1. Self-awareness — the ability to read one’s emotions and recognize their impact.
2. Self-management — involves controlling one’s emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
3. Social awareness — the ability to sense, understand, and react to others’ emotions while comprehending social networks.
4. Relationship management — the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.
My wife and I were introduced to the enneagram just before we were married, and we’ve found it to be a constant source of understanding for why we behave the way we do, partly because of sin and part because that’s the way God wired us together. I am driven my a need to be successful and help whilst my wife by a need to be in control and try new things. Knowing this, we bring the sinful behaviour produced by our core desires under the light of the gospel, putting off the old self and putting on Christ.
I think Proverbs 10:13 gives permission for Christians to use these sorts of extra-biblical tools; “On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.”