Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the market place. One group shouts to the other, “ We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn’t dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn’t cry!”
[A crowd has gathered to hear what Jesus has to say about John the Baptist, who has been arrested by King Herod.]
What Jesus is describing here is dysfunctional community. The people are out of touch with each other. They are self-absorbed and living, in their own little worlds, oblivious to what’s going on around them. There is no cooperation, no empathy, no connection, no love. In short, these people have no emotional intelligence.
My pastor Tom Rogers is very interested in the concept of emotional intelligence, which he asserts is a very important part of successful living. If he reads this he will be very happy to know that Jesus agrees.
Here’s a brief description of emotional intelligence from About.com:
The ability to express and control our own emotions is important, but so is our ability to understand, interpret, and respond to the emotions of others. Imagine a world where you couldn’t understand when a friend was feeling sad or when a co-worker was angry. Psychologists refer to this ability as emotional intelligence, and some experts even suggest that it can be more important than IQ.
Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Some researchers suggest that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while others claim it is an inborn characteristic.
Since 1990, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on emotional intelligence. In their influential article “Emotional Intelligence,” they defined emotional intelligence as, “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”
Here’s a little chart I found online that’s kind of helpful:
Peter Salovey believes that emotional intelligence is as important as IQ and personality in successful living.
“I think in the coming decade we will see well-conducted research demonstrating that emotional skills and competencies predict positive outcomes at home with one’s family, in school, and at work. The real challenge is to show that emotional intelligence matters over-and-above psychological constructs that have been measured for decades like personality and IQ. I believe that emotional intelligence holds this promise.” (“Emotional What?” EQ Today)
Finally, here are excerpts from an article published by the American Psychological Association entitled, “Emotional Intelligence for a Better Community” that stresses the importance of emotional intelligence in the effort to a better world.
If we identified the most effective community activists, we would find that they have many of the qualities associated with emotional intelligence”–which he defined as the ability to perceive, express and manage one’s own emotions and those of others.
The conceptual and methodological tools of community psychology can help us better understand how to create more emotionally intelligent settings,” he said. “I believe that is the greatest challenge facing not only our field, but our society today.” (http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec01/emotional.aspx)
Remember that it was Jesus who gave us the Golden Rule (Day 59). He says that when we act out of true empathy and emotional intelligence we are doing God’s will: “Do for others what you want them to do for you; this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.” You can’t implement the Golden Rule successfully without emotional intelligence.
Jesus says that the people of his day have no emotional intelligence. They are all shouting and doing their own thing and playing their own music and no one is paying any attention to anyone else. Insensitivity. Egocentrism. Self interest. Isolation. Dysfunction. They can’t connect.
So once again, “science” might do well to pay attention to the teachings of Jesus. He seems to be a couple of thousand years ahead of his time. Emotional intelligence – another great concept illuminated by the words of Jesus.
What does this scripture say to you?