Building on research of brain scientists and psychologists, particularly Daniel Goleman, that suggests that 'feeling and thinking… are inseparable parts of our cognitive system,' Oswald and Jacobson examine Jesus, congregations, and church leaders through this lens, with the aim of enriching congregational life. They contend that Jesus, as portrayed in the synoptic gospels, exemplifies an emotionally intelligent person through such traits as his ability to elicit 'healing trust in ill persons,' 'abundance mentality,' self-awareness, empathy, optimism, and stress resilience. When used in congregational settings, these qualities help people thrive, equipping them to address toxic interchanges head-on, promote teamwork, and offer effective pastoral care. An emotionally intelligent pastor is one who develops trust, builds relationships, is honest about difficult truths, and embodies Christian grace. The authors offer guidance for developing emotional intelligence, advice for a variety of pastoral situations and ministry settings, and tools, such as the Clergy Life Changes Rating Scale. Compelling, insightful and practical, this book is a valuable resource for promoting healthy congregations.
— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
The many studies of Jesus range from the scholarly to the devotional, from the iconoclastic to the worshipful, and from the social to the psychological to the philosophical. Oswald and Jacobson move into interesting new territory by combining rigorous historical-critical scholarship with advances in scientific studies of the human brain and nervous system. Without committing themselves to the historicity of the sources for Jesus one way or the other and viewing him instead as a character in literary documents, the authors conclude that the main traits Jesus displayed in his words and actions were self-awareness, empathy, assertiveness, and optimism—that is, he presents as a resilient figure capable of loving enemies and dispensing forgiveness. Studies of emotional intelligence point to the significance and interconnections between mental/thinking and emotional/feeling factors in cognitive processes that enable people to think and act with awareness of their own and others’ emotions and thus to function healthily and constructively in relationships, organizations, and institutions. By combining inquiry into a historical figure with contemporary scientific investigations, Oswald and Jacobson present a Jesus who is as interesting as Aristotle’s ‘great-souled person’ (Socrates?). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.
— Choice Reviews
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is critical for vital congregations and for effective ministry. This book provides a fascinating perspective for seeing Jesus as exemplar of EQ. It gives a foundation for understanding EQ and, I hope, will encourage pastors and other leaders to grow in their EQ. Thinking about Jesus from an EQ perspective will help preachers communicate more effectively. Growing in EQ will help a pastor avoid many pitfalls. I commend it to anyone who seeks to grow in faith and strengthen relationships.
— The Presbyterian Outlook
Oswald and Jacobson provide a refreshing and positive approach that may be more accessible than say, a family systems approach, to arriving at a healthier minister and congregation; their approach is biblically-based and grounded in current brain science research. They avoid technical jargon and write with an inviting style that may overcome the skeptic’s posture toward yet another 'self-help' book for ministers. For those who find themselves in the midst of a transition, the co-authors offer helpful insights and counter what has been conventional wisdom with respect to avoiding a relationship with one’s predecessor in the congregation.... This book will help seminarians and newly minted ministers, as well as seasoned pastors—especially those who may be in the midst of significant and/or difficult transitions.
— Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
This is a great new book for church leaders: The Emotional Intelligence of Jesus: Relational Smarts for Religious Leaders is a new book by Roy Oswald (a long-time consultant with the Alban Institute on matters of church leadership) and Arland Jacobson (a New Testament professor). They have combined their expertise and interest to explore the life and ministry of Jesus alongside the field of brain science inquiry related to emotional intelligence. Their goal is to discover how the practices of Jesus model emotional intelligence for leaders of the Church. From this vantage point, they discover new insights into the ministry of Jesus that could easily provide the foundation for a wonderful Bible study or sermon series. Chapters are devoted to self-awareness, empathy, assertiveness, optimism, stress resilience, loving one’s enemies, and forgiveness. There are additional chapters about best practices to enhance emotional intelligence in the life of a congregation as well as in the skill set of the pastor.
— The United Methodist Church in Northern Virginia
Two very experienced and wise experts who understand congregations and what they are up against have produced an insightful and useful book that will be of great value to those who lead congregations. To a certain degree this is a ‘how to’ book, but it is also a beautiful blending of applied behavioral science in dialogue with Jesus’ ministry and teaching. Roy M. Oswald and Arland Jacobson have winsomely brought together theological reflection with great descriptions of healthy leadership. I recommend this book for people who preach, who lead, and who are trying to figure out how to be effective leaders.
— Speed B. Leas, congregational consultant, author of "Discover Your Conflict Management Style"