Can you measure Spiritual Intelligence?

Workshop coming Sep 16

Who are your spiritual leaders–past and present? Most of us would probably have Jesus at the top of our list, yet there are others who have also brought wisdom, peace, and compassion to our world. I think of the Apostle Paul, Corrie ten Boom, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. Have you ever considered what specific skills they practiced in order to share their unique gifts with the people around them? Can we name and emulate those skills?

Yes, we can! The growing field of Spiritual Intelligence identifies skills that can help us bring more wisdom and compassion into the situations right around us. For Christians, this is an expectation repeated throughout scripture. Here’s the Apostle Paul’s instruction from Colossians 3:9b-10

“Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it.”

While I have heard about our need for spiritual growth all my life, I was thrilled to discover the SQ21 assessment which measures 21 spiritual skills. It also gives me some new handles for talking about spiritual things outside the church and even in the secular marketplace and for developing very specific skills that can help me move toward being conformed to the image of Christ.

Allow me to introduce you to the field of Spiritual Intelligence–or SQ (as in IQ for Intelligence Quotient), for short. While the skills that show evidence of Spiritual Intelligence have always been around, it has just been in recent years that a list of 21 of those skills has actually been compiled and a self-assessment has been developed to help you determine where your strengths and weaknesses are in your spiritual skill set.

The developer of the Spiritual Intelligence assessment tool, Cindy Wigglesworth, defines Spiritual Intelligence this way:

“The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace regardless of the situation.”

While I may be able to make a wise decision in a situation, if I am still boiling on the inside with anger because of the reason I had to make that decision, well, then that is not really exhibiting spiritual intelligence. The emphasis is on that ability to maintain that balanced peace while using wisdom and compassion.

If you are interested in taking this online assessment, use the contact form on my Coaching page to let me know you’re interested and I’ll get in touch with you with more information. I would highly recommend it for anyone in ministry or wanting to deepen their spiritual life with some practical tools, because it helps you glean more insight into yourself and the others you serve.

The 21 skills Wigglesworth identified were based on inquiries of thousands of participants and then put into an assessment format with the help of Harvard researchers. The 21 skills can be categorized into four quadrants:

  • Self/self Awareness
  • Universal Awareness
  • Self/self Mastery
  • Social Mastery/Spiritual Presence.

As the first three quadrants are developed, the fourth quadrant shows the outcome or impact of your development in the other areas. The basis of the theory, as with Emotional Intelligence (EQ), is that the better you know yourself and choose to develop yourself and the more consciously aware you are of the people and situations around you, the better your relationships will be. While we can’t control many of the situations around us, we can choose to control our responses to those situations and to people. That’s where our Spiritual Intelligence has a chance to shine–or show us we need to work on a particular skill.

Four of the 21 specific skills of Spiritual Intelligence include

  • Awareness of own worldview
  • Awareness of interconnectedness of life
  • Living your purpose and values
  • Making wise and compassionate decisions

I’ll talk more about the specific skills in coming posts. As a certified Spiritual Intelligence Coach, I am so intrigued by how different clients exhibit different spiritual skills and yet we can all continue to grow from where we are.

One of the fascinating things about this assessment and Spiritual Intelligence in general is that it provides us with a new vocabulary to be able to talk about spiritual things without getting into a heated religious debate. SQ is not about your beliefs or religion, although those will influence your SQ. It is also not about your knowledge of the Bible or any other sacred text. It is both faith-friendly and faith-neutral because it is about the skills we can all develop to bring more wisdom and compassion and peace into the world. The SQ21 assessment was actually developed with the secular corporate world in mind, to help bring a healthy discussion of spiritual things into the workplace. Its language makes it easy for a Baptist, a Buddhist, and an atheist to take it and find applicable meaning. I believe it can also be invaluable to the church because it puts spiritual things into a language we can all understand.

If you’d like to read more about this, check out Cindy’s book: SQ21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, 2014, Select Books.

If you’re in the Austin area and would like to attend a workshop on the topic, join me at one I am leading:

Growing in Wisdom and Compassion: A Spiritual Intelligence Workshop 

Saturday, September 16, 2017, St. David’s Episcopal Church, Austin, TX 

9 am to 2 pm, Bring a sack lunch. 

$25 payable to me 

Register HERE

  • Learn how you can develop in the four areas of Spiritual Intelligence 
  • Explore the spiritual disciplines and their role in the development of your Spiritual Intelligence 
  • Discover biblical models of Spiritual Intelligence and how to emulate their distinct habits

In the Comments section below, let me hear your thoughts on spiritual skills you admire in others. 


Laura Savage-Rains--coach, speaker, writer--is the founder and author of who is using her 30+ years of ministry and leadership experience to teach women how to lead with passion. She is a native Texan who has also lived in foreign places such as Alabama and Romania. She makes her home in Lakeway, Texas, with her husband, Mark. She loves to write, speak, and teach the Bible. She is also a women's ministry team member, choir member, stepmom, and Grammy to 3 little girls. She loves dark chocolate with caramel, "The Sound of Music" movie, and Barbra Streisand's music.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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