January 31, 2024

Do You Want to Be Successful? Then Be Emotionally Intelligent Like Jesus!

At the AYC Conference in Australia, Adventist psychologist shares tips for thriving.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
[Photo: Panuwat Dangsungnoen]

“What do Google, Samsung, and Microsoft have in common?” licensed psychologist K’dee Crews asked at the beginning of her January 26 presentation at the Adventist Youth for Christ Conference in Melbourne, Australia. “They are the world’s top three brands with highest Emotional Intelligence scores,” she answered.

Crews, a Seventh-day Adventist who practices in California, United States, then set out to explain why focusing on Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) makes sense, what we can do to increase our EQ, and why this is important as we connect to God, follow Jesus, and ask Him to give us His Holy Spirit.

IQ or EQ?

Traditionally, Crews explained, the focus has been on IQ, or intelligence quotient. “People would look at a person with high IQ and say, ‘Wow! This person is going to be successful!’” she said. “But research has shown that a high IQ is not a great predictor of success.… Studies showed that a successful life and work depend 20 percent on a person’s IQ and 80 percent on EQ.… This means we should focus more on EQ, since it is four times more important than IQ.”

On the other hand, research on EQ shows that, when tested alongside another 33 important worksite skills, EQ was found to be the strongest predictor of performance, explaining 58 percent of the success in all kinds of jobs, Crews reported. And a high EQ has many benefits, as it has been shown to contribute to “better mental, physical, social, and spiritual health,” she said.

In Everyday Life

EQ has been defined as “the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others,” Crews read, quoting a common definition. It’s “the ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” It includes self-awareness (recognizing one’s emotions), self-management (managing one’s emotions), social awareness (recognizing others’ emotions), and relationship awareness (managing one’s relationships with others), she explained.

Crews also explained that among many signs of low EQ are getting stressed or upset easily, having unpredictable mood changes, or acting impulsively. In social interactions, it includes holding grudges, thinking it’s always the other’s person fault — it’s always the church’s fault, the leaders’ fault — or coming off as insensitive.

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K’dee Crews discussed the importance of knowing and increasing our emotional intelligence during a presentation at the AYC Conference in Melbourne, Australia, January 26. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

Signs of high EQ, on the other hand, include identifying one’s emotions and reflecting on them, remaining calm during stressful situations, and embracing change and moving on after a mistake. In relationships, it includes sharing one’s feelings with others and even being able to cry in front of other people. Showing empathy, accepting criticism, and apologizing when we are wrong are also signs of high EQ, Crews said.

EQ Can Be Improved

The good news about EQ is that, unlike IQ, which is set at a certain threshold, it can be improved with practice, Crews emphasized, which should prompt us to focus more on how to do it. Among other things, she mentioned mindfulness (slowing down and tuning into how we feel), practicing emotional regulation exercises, and using motivation (setting goals and being hopeful) and social skills (reflective listening and increasing empathy).

At the same time, Crews emphasized, before we can do anything about our EQ, we should be aware of barriers that get in the way in our quest for improvement. “Those barriers are related to what we call life choices,” she said. “There are choices you are making day to day that are going to affect your ability to develop a high EQ.”

The Importance of Life Choices

Barriers to increasing EQ include a poor diet, overeating, overworking, gambling, and chronic stress, among many others. They also include substance use, entertainment binges, pornography, and videogames, Crews shared. “These are life choices that many times nobody else knows about, but that impede our ability to be emotionally intelligent,” she said.

Crews explained that they are barriers because they affect the frontal lobe, the “control center” of our brains, which manages attention, decision-making, and regulation of emotions. What is more, she said, life choice barriers can affect our moral decision-making and our connection with God.

The key, Crews said, is to replace those barriers with God’s health principles such as good nutrition, deep breathing, balanced work, and rest. They also include exercise, hobbies, boundaries, and self-control. “These will help us to have emotional intelligence, to have sound minds, which is basically being filled with the Holy Spirit,” she said.

The Person with the Highest EQ

Above all, we should strive to follow the example of Jesus, “the person with the highest EQ,” Crews said. “There’s something that we can learn from him in relation to emotional intelligence,” she said.

Crews shared some examples from Jesus’ life, including self-denial and self-control when tempted and intelligent responses to other people’s questionings. “In the last hours of His life, Jesus showed high emotional intelligence,” she said. And Luke 2:52 in the Bible says that Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

“Do you want to be successful? Do you want to grow in wisdom?” Crews asked AYC attendees. “Then, increase your EQ! Make good choices, protect your frontal lobe, practice self-discipline, and ask for the Holy Spirit. Become like Jesus!”