“The spirit of the man is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s innermost being” (Prov 20:27).
Human beings are essentially spiritual beings. First Corinthians 6:19 says that human bodies are the temple of Holy Spirit, who is in us. Recently, importance of spiritual dimension of a person’s being is garnering a lot of interest in various disciplines, including psychology, health science and social science. Definition of health by WHO includes spiritual wellbeing as one of the dimensions of positive health. The relation of spirituality to overall wellbeing of a person is being explored by researchers in different contexts.
Spirituality is a broad concept and can be understood differently by different people based on their experiences and background. Robert Emmons defines spirituality as “a search for the sacred, for experience that is meaningful in and of itself”.
For a Christian, spirituality is the beliefs, values and the practices based on biblical teachings. James 1:25 teaches a believer to be not just a ‘hearer’ of the word but also a ‘doer’. Christian spirituality also relies on the power of Holy Spirit rather than the human abilities. It’s the Holy Spirit that guides a believer to the truth, gives a conviction of sin and provides joy in their heart.
Spirituality helps in self-awareness and also to grasp the meaning of qualities like peace and unconditional love; while spiritual intelligence enables a person to use these qualities in everyday life.
The use of spirituality in everyday circumstances to solve problems and live harmoniously is termed as spiritual intelligence. The term spiritual intelligence was introduced by Danah Zohar in her book Rewiring the Corporate Brain; where she explained the principles of spiritual intelligence. Spirituality helps in self-awareness and also to grasp the meaning of qualities like peace and unconditional love; while spiritual intelligence enables a person to use these qualities in your everyday life. Spiritual intelligence helps to behave with wisdom and compassion. These qualities help a person to reach out to others in need. People like Mother Teresa exhibited God’s love through her service to the poor and sick; which is a perfect example of spiritual intelligence. In the book of Nehemiah, we read that Nehemiah was saddened by the condition of Jerusalem. He prayed and from the directions that he received from God; he went with confidence to rebuild the wall. His faith in God was seen in his action.
Thus, spiritual intelligence can be considered as a unifying factor that helps in maintaining harmony, providing deep meaning in everyday experiences and a sense of purpose in a person’s life. Harmony, meaningfulness and a sense of purpose can lead to a better quality of life. Research has shown that spiritual intelligence is positively correlated to quality of life and wellness. Studies have highlighted that spiritual intelligence helped in identity development in adolescents and leadership effectiveness in leaders. Higher levels of spiritual intelligence showed a positive association to happiness and optimism. Spiritual intelligence was found to be low in patients of psychosomatic illness and heart diseases. Spiritual intelligence also helped to tackle depression anxiety and stress. These studies highlight the benefits of being spiritually intelligent.
Long before these researches were conducted, the Bible taught that Christian spirituality results in fruit of the spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23). The first four along with self-control help in personal growth and wellness, whereas the rest help a person to be a blessing to others. When we reach out to a friend who is sick with a kind heart, when we find joy in small blessings and act in love towards others because we want to follow the example of Christ; we are showing spiritual intelligence.
People may be so engrossed in spirituality that they neglect their duties in the society. Just as the corporate ambitions of career-oriented people leads to a chaotic life, focussing only on spirituality can lead to disruption in families. That was never God’s intention. This is where spiritual intelligence is important.
Spiritual intelligence leads to a better quality of life. Quality of life is holistic in nature encompassing not just financial and professional status but overall physical and mental health, academic life, social interactions and activities of recreation. Quality of life is also about getting the best out of the opportunities which benefit both the person and the society one belongs to. Spiritual intelligence has a positive influence on all aspects of quality of life. It connects people, families, society and the whole world. Nurturing one’s spiritual intelligence helps to have an inner peace which is also an utmost aim in achieving quality of life.
Christian spirituality engages with all aspects of human life. Bible deals with physical, emotional, financial and social concerns along with spirituality. For Example: Mathew 6:21 deals with our attitude towards financial dealings. In Isaiah 1:17 prophet is asking people to learn to do good, seek justice and speak for the one who is helpless. It reminds people that God wants them to take care of social concerns. Zechariah 7:9–10, Proverb 31:8–9, Jeremiah 22:3 and many more verses point to the fact that a believer is supposed to be a voice for the voiceless and to help uplift fellow being.
Emmons notes that it is possible for spirituality to produce problems as well, stating “spirituality may promote healthy functioning in some realms of life while straining functioning in others.” People may be so engrossed in spirituality that they neglect their duties in the society. Just as the corporate ambitions of career-oriented people leads to a chaotic life, focussing only on spirituality can lead to disruption in families. That was never God’s intention. This is where spiritual intelligence is important. If one is spiritually intelligent, one may be able to use the spiritual insights and knowledge to good use; rather than being ‘hearers’ to be ‘doers’ of word.
Christian spirituality very well instructs a person to attain this balance which is very evident from the various issues concerning all areas of life addressed in Bible. It teaches about the relation of man to God, also, of man to man and his surroundings. It teaches how to pray and also how to put one’s faith in action. Be it family, parenting, youth issues or concerns of old, it addresses all aspects of human life.
Wisdom gained in Christian spirituality can help a person to be more aware of self and others. Such awareness helps one to have a positive approach for life. It helps us to function better, to appreciate every little blessing we have and to diligently care for self, others and surroundings. This is what leads to overall wellbeing.