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Developing Your Pastoral Intelligence: Emotional Fitness for Ministry Effectiveness

The fall course, Developing Your Pastoral Intelligence: Emotional Fitness for Ministry Effectiveness, is for clergy serving in congregational contexts who seek to assess and improve their leadership and ministry effectiveness. 

The program includes a nine-month coaching relationship provided by a trained PI Coach using the Call and Identity Coaching™ model. This coaching approach aims to help ministers gain clarity and direction in their calling and pastoral identity through increased spiritual and emotional self-awareness.

Facilitator Steve Booth discusses the program in more depth.


Define pastoral intelligence

Pastoral Intelligence™ is about bringing intelligence to one’s emotions within the unique context of the pastoral vocation.

It involves synthesizing theological and emotional bits of intelligence.

In essence, it is the ability to manage your emotions as well as the emotions of your congregation.

Although the conceptual framework and understanding of emotional intelligence is foundational, pastoral intelligence is uniquely based on two essential characteristics of vocational ministry.

One is call and the other is ministerial identity.

Vocational ministers are sustained by their calling and motivated by the Spirit of God that lives within.

Their identity is formed and shaped by that divine call.

Growing and increasing one’s pastoral intelligence is an ongoing process of naming, claiming and redefining God’s call while embracing and solidifying one’s identity as a called minister of God.


What’s your role in the course?

I serve as the primary coordinator and facilitator of the initial workshop and will be one of the PI coaches working individually with participants over the eight months that follow the September workshop.

The overarching goal is to increase ministry effectiveness through emotional learning.


What’s unique about this type of training?

We do not believe cognitive learning (teaching-by-telling) will result in a significant change in behavior.

Although we begin the course with some foundational cognitive content, the uniqueness of our approach is premised on a coaching relationship, a type of “challenge and discovery approach to learning” (see Israel Galindo, The Power of Dialogical Learning).

In the coaching relationship, the course participant will be given a safe and confidential space to explore one’s “emotional system,” composed of the interplay of one’s imprinting, beliefs (worldview) and behavior.

Developing trust and resonance through the coaching relationship enables the course participant to grow in their pastoral intelligence while facilitating their evolving call and pastoral identity.


What will the program provide for participants by way of pastoral intelligence?

The program seeks to develop in participants five abilities that inform and guide Pastoral Intelligence’s central objective of emotional learning. The five PI abilities are:

  1. The ability to comprehend how one’s emotional system – imprinting, beliefs and behavior – influence one’s ability to have empathy.
  2. The ability to understand one’s life story and how it may negatively influence one’s behavior until one’s belief system changes.
  3. The ability to recognize and manage emotional themes in oneself and understand emotional themes in others.
  4. The ability to use biblical theology to see God at work in all creation.
  5. The ability to see God at work in one’s calling while not allowing emotions and behavior to form one’s pastoral identity.


What are the risks of not developing one’s pastoral intelligence?

Disconnecting from self and others leads to exhaustion, fatigue, burnout, moral lapses, heightened anxiety, depression, loss of joy and diminished optimism.


Can you share a brief story of a time you witnessed poor pastoral intelligence?

Pastoral intelligence is made up of four different categories: self-development, self-motivation, congregational awareness, and relational skills.

Each category is divided further into sub-categories referred to as competencies.

There are nineteen pastoral intelligence competencies.

Under the self-development category, the emotional self-control competency is the ability to keep your impulses, feelings, and emotions under control.

It includes being able to restrain yourself from having a negative reaction when provoked, when facing opposition, or when under pressure.


Mary, a middle-aged pastor was serving her third church in a small county-seat town.

She was in her third marriage with three children, the youngest under 2.

She had experienced significant early childhood trauma manifesting as abandonment.

After a heated disagreement with a parishioner who consequently lobbied for her dismissal via a denominational social media site, the pastor responded with an inappropriate and reactive online retort.

Lacking awareness regarding her emotional triggers, the pastor’s behavior inhibited her from speaking to the parishioner’s emotions, thwarting the pastoral care opportunity and diminishing confidence in her overall leadership as pastor.


Developing Your Pastoral Intelligence: Emotional Fitness for Ministry Effectiveness happens September 19-21. Scholarships are available to participants and alumni of the Wounded Clergy Retreat (formerly the Wellness Retreat for Clergy and Spouses) of the Ministering to Ministers program. Click here to register.

Stephen C. Booth, MDiv, DMin, has had four decades of ministry as a congregational minister, spiritual director, Christian educator and clergy coach. Steve collaborates with local churches and judicatories on visioning their future stories, discipleship formation curriculum development, and men’s spirituality. He is a graduate of Campbell University and Andover Newton Theological School. He received his coach training from the Center for Congregational Health.

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