About Spiritual Intelligence
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God- what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The Apostle Paul
Origins of Spiritual Intelligence
Spiritual intelligence traces its history from the theory of multiple intelligences introduced by Howard Gardner, which inspired the theory of emotional intelligence developed by Daniel Goleman, Peter Salovey, John Mayer, and others. The main thrust in these theories is that IQ is not the only factor in determining success in life. In fact, emotional intelligence has proven to be a much greater factor for predicting educational and vocational success.
Emotional intelligence is comprised of a combination of awareness and management of one’s emotional life along with the capacity to understand the emotions of others and to relate empathetically to them. Spiritual intelligence recognizes that there is a third dimension of awareness that goes beyond the self and others: awareness of God. Our research shows that what we believe about God and how we relate to God greatly impact our emotional intelligence, the way we relate to ourselves and to others.
Spiritual Intelligence Defined
We define spiritual intelligence as the capacity to discern the movement of God both in ourselves and other people and to act lovingly out of this awareness. In Christianity we believe that through a faithful relationship with Christ, God resides within us. So it makes sense that discerning what is going on inside of us would also help us to discern the workings of God, rather than just solely reading sacred texts. Not that we can gain access to the entirety of God’s mind, but discerning our thoughts and feelings enables us to interact with God. This ability to interact with God serves as the foundation of spiritual intelligence.
A Transforming Relationship
Our research shows that there are correlations between emotional health, level of empathy for others and the depth of our relationship with a personal, loving, forgiving God. Many Christian leaders have preached about relationship with God but have ignored emotional health and empathy. They have taught that all you need is belief in Christ and the result is that you will go to heaven. This is true and it is great news. But what about your life now? We believe that this life is a preparation for the next life. When we believe we begin a process of transformation by living daily in a relationship with God. Through this active and vital relationship, God gives us the power to become loving people. This transformation is not magical and does not happen over night. It is a process of deep psychological healing that requires much dedication and hard work.
Three Factors of Spiritual Intelligence
The three major factors for measuring a Christ-centered spiritual intelligence are Depth of Relationship with God, Level of Self-Differentiation, and Capacity for Empathy for Others. From a Christian view, we believe that God has communicated to humanity throughout the ages and the Bible is a testimony of that communication. We believe that God continues to communicate with people alive today and that the ability to perceive God and acting lovingly out of that perception is a unique intelligence that anyone can have and develop. Development of spiritual intelligence will enhance your ability to have a relationship with God, which in turn aids us in forming a healthy sense of identity, and increases our capacity to empathize with others. Together, these factors enable us to do the thing that so often alludes us and the very thing that we were created to do: love others.
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