Where Replanters often fall short: Emotional intelligence

By Mark Hallock

I was recently asked the question, as you work with church planters and replanters, if you had to pick one key area of pastoral leadership where more teaching and training is needed, what would it be? This was an easy one to answer. But before I share my response, let me introduce you to a young pastor referred to as Pastor Alpha.

Pastor Alpha graduated from the seminary at the top of his class. He excels in Greek, Hebrew, and theology and is well versed in biblical hermeneutics. He can explain difficult biblical prophecies and complex theological truths, and can quote a dizzying array of texts from memory. He has an extensive vocabulary, a full and resonant voice, and the ability to paint powerful word pictures and command audiences with dramatic pulpit mannerisms. He is tall, personable, and striking in appearance. He is happily married. He seems the ideal pastoral prospect with a promising future ahead.

Unfortunately, however, Pastor Alpha’s ministry has not really taken off! Mired in mediocrity, he transfers from one pastorate to the next, leaving behind a string of problems, complaints, and disgruntled parishioners. Everywhere he pastors, the record is the same. He has talent and technical skills but does not get along well with people.

Pastor Alpha lacks the ability to deal with his own emotions and the emotions of others. Though intellectually brilliant, he lacks the emotional skills necessary to relate successfully to others. As a result, he continues to experience failed relationships with his parishioners. (Description of Pastor Alpha adapted from Delbert Baker.)

Sadly, Pastor Alpha’s story is not dissimilar to many other gifted young pastors coming out of seminary. As I shared with my friend, what Pastor Alpha is missing, and what I believe is missing in the training and development of so many younger (and older) pastors and leaders in the church, is intentional teaching and growth in the area of Emotional Intelligence. This is especially critical in the task and calling of church replanting and revitalization.
What exactly is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Emotional Intelligence can be defined as, “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”. At its core, EQ consists of the following four leadership skills or competencies:

#1. Self-Awareness: The ability to know yourself and your emotions, not as you wish they were, but as they really are.

#2. Self-Regulation: The wisdom and ability to understand the impact you have when you take action or refrain from action.

#3. Social Awareness: The ability to read other people and understand their emotions.

#4. Relationship Management: The ability to incorporate the other 3 skills to navigate and build positive relationships with all types of people.

Regardless of ones proficiency in any or all of these leadership skills, a disciplined approach to improving these skills can and will lead to greater emotional intelligence. One’s EQ, unlike IQ or other personal characteristics, can be improved. The good news is that even though many of us need to grow leaps and bounds in our EQ, by God’s grace, He can help us mature in this critical area of leadership. In the next several blog posts we will be exploring this concept of Emotional Intelligence, how it affects our leadership as replanters and some of the specific ways we can avoid following in the footsteps of Pastor Alpha!

Time to Reflect:

Spend some time thinking about and praying through these questions pertaining to your current EQ. It could also be helpful and beneficial to humbly discuss these questions with your spouse or a close friend:

#1: How self-aware am I? In what ways am I not self-aware? What would my spouse say? What would my closest friends say? Have I asked them?

#2: How socially-aware am I? Am I able to read other people’s emotions well and respond to them properly and helpfully? Why or why not?

#3: How would I assess my current relationships? How well do I relate to my wife and kids? What are my relationships like with my co-workers and those I serve in ministry with?

Published December 8, 2015

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Mark Hallock

Mark Hallock serves as the lead pastor of Calvary Church in Englewood, Colorado. He also serves as president of the Calvary Family of Churches, a group committed to planting and replanting churches for the glory of God (thecalvary.org). His great desire is to see the gospel transform lives and neighborhoods through the planting of new congregations, along with the revitalization of declining congregations, throughout the city of Denver and beyond. Mark’s favorite hobby is hanging out with his wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Zoe and Eli.