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Relating well is critical component of ministry

by Louisville Seminary | Jul 15, 2008
by Toya Richards Hill

Louisville Seminary offers conference on the subject of Emotional Intelligence for church leaders.

Relating well with others is a critical component of ministry, which is why Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is offering a course to help church leaders develop deeper emotional connections with those they serve.

Emotional Intelligence and Human Relations: Leadership Skills For Congregational Life will take place July 21-25 on the campus. A program of the Seminary’s Office of Lifelong Learning, the course will focus on developing and strengthening personal, interpersonal, and group process skills.

“Church work and church leadership … is particularly about interpersonal relationships and human relations,” said the Rev. Dr. David R. Sawyer, director of Lifelong Learning and Advanced Degrees and Professor of Ministry at Louisville Seminary. “This weeklong conference is designed to help leaders and future leaders of the church expand and enhance their abilities to work with people.”

Working in small groups, course participants will utilize an intimate laboratory experience as they engage in practical theological research and reflect on leadership. The group experiences are designed so participants can learn from each other and determine how best to handle emotional situations, Sawyer said.

“It’s about emotional intelligence,” which looks at self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management, he said. “It’s been proven that you can really predict how effective a person is as a leader based on how well they do in terms of emotional intelligence.”

Sawyer said the response to the course has been extremely positive and that the course is now full with more than 40 participants, including those actively engaged in ministry and Master of Divinity students.

Joining Sawyer as a course leader is the Rev. Roy M. Oswald, executive director of the Center for Emotional Intelligence and Human Relations Skills. Oswald said participants will complete a survey about themselves prior to the course, and that 20 people they know also will complete the same survey about the participant.

That survey information will then be used during the course to help participants determine if what they think of themselves matches the perceptions of those connected to them, said Oswald, an author, seminar leader, and former consultant for the Alban Institute.

As part of the results of the survey, “you begin to see the gaps,” which helps participants determine areas they might want to address during the course, he said.

Oswald said participants will go away from the course having identified behaviors that might not be productive and ways in which to be more effective leaders.

“In one sense, this is training in leadership development,” he said. The hope is that “as these individuals offer their leadership, people will say, ‘Yes, I’m committed to working together as a team with this person.’”

For more information on the course contact Sawyer at dsawyer@lpts.edu or Carol Webb at cwebb@lpts.edu.

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