How broad is your perspective? As I child, I would lie in the cool, green grass on a summer afternoon looking up into the sky through the feathery leaves of the mimosa tree in our front yard. Noticing how the leaves would fold up each evening was a fun fact for a five- year old. Wondering just how big the sky is and how big God is were questions I often thought about–and still do. As an adult, I have come to embrace some mysteries and the realization that my lack of fully understanding something can actually enhance my belief in it.
If God’s “size” were actually knowable, I would be disappointed. I want a God that is bigger than I can truly fathom. Since that is so, I should be willing to entertain other thoughts that seem illogical or unusual to my Western mindset and my Christian worldview. There is no way I can understand everything, but I can certainly use my mind to explore areas of knowledge that are difficult for me to understand or to accept. Because God has gifted scientists, astronomers, physicists, space explorers, marine biologists, and medical researchers with some skills I will never have, I am in awe of some of the findings they have exposed to the world. They challenge my senses because my senses can’t quite grasp some of their explanations.
However, when it comes to someone’s faith or religion that is different than mine, my Western Christian worldview can get in the way of my willingness to try to understand a perspective that is so foreign to my own. Our Western approach to life is so governed by the scientific method, that we want to be able to put everything on a diagram, or form a hypothesis, collect empirical data, and then come to some “right” conclusion. I unconsciously apply this to ideas of faith all the time. I want to be “right.” Guess what? It doesn’t always work.
For example, I grew up thinking the way I was taught to believe the Bible was the “only” way to believe it. Over the last 20 years I have encountered many other perspectives about the Bible that have challenged my thinking and some of my beliefs. I have listened to women of other faiths talk about what they love about their religious traditions with as much sincerity and devotion as any Christian woman. I have marveled at the ideas that the universe is as old and as vast as the photographic data from the Hubble telescope prove. While some of my questions are still unanswered, some of my beliefs have been solidified and others have been completely altered. I have been humbled many times–and I’m so grateful!
That is what the second quadrant of the Spiritual Intelligence four-quadrant model tries to address and the SQ21 assessment tries to measure. It is called the Universal Awareness quadrant. The six spiritual skills that can be measured in this quadrant include:
6. Awareness of interconnectedness of life
7. Awareness of worldviews of others
8. Breadth of time perception
9. Awareness of limitations/power of human perception
10. Awareness of spiritual laws
11. Experience of transcendent oneness
How well we exercise these skills demonstrates our abilities to see another person’s viewpoint or to sympathize with a different cultural worldview. We may not agree or fully understand, yet we can still attempt to appreciate it. These skills also push our minds to think long thoughts about a time line for infinity. Some things are just beyond our finite minds’ capabilities. And sometimes, that’s okay! If you’d like to read more about Spiritual Intelligence, I highly recommend Cindy Wigglesworth’s book SQ21-The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, and if you’re curious how you’re growing in these skills, contact me through my Coaching page for an opportunity to take the SQ21 assessment.
Great leaders will encounter many viewpoints that differ from their own. How well they can engage those viewpoints toward a common goal or toward a new understanding for the greater good is a challenge. I believe this is why the Great Commandment includes loving God with all our mind and why the Apostle Paul reminded us that renewing our minds would lead to the ability to discern God’s will. A thinking faith is the only kind of faith that will help us grow spiritually. A mind that goes into neutral or shuts down when spiritual things are discussed or questioned is not a mind that is seeking God’s will. A mind governed by the Holy Spirit is a mind that is unafraid of the difficult questions and does not shy away from the ideas that challenge a long-held belief. A renewed mind seeks a deeper understanding of God by being willing to view our immediate circumstances, all of life, the world, and our neighbors through a different pair of lenses framed with grace and mercy.
Let’s start a conversation on this: What is the most challenging spiritual thought you’ve had lately? Are you questioning a long-held belief? Did someone disagree with your explanation of a spiritual truth? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
If you’d like to take the SQ21 assessment, contact me through my Coaching page and I’ll be happy to talk to you more about it.