Volume 24
Number 1
The Forum issue of Association of Professional Chaplains

Resource Reviews

Emotional Intelligence for Religious Leaders
Roy M. Oswald, John Lee West and Nadyne Guzman (Lanham, Maryland:  Rowman and Littlefield, 2018, 115 pages, hardcover, ebook, softcover)

The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook
Kristin Neff PhD and Christopher Germer PhD (New York and London: The Guilford Press,
2018, 206 pages, hardcover, spiral-bound, paperback, ebook)

Spirit in Session: Working with Your Client’s Spirituality (and Your Own) in Psychotherapy
Russell Siler Jones (West Conshohocken, PA:  Templeton Press, 2019, 275 pages, soft cover, e-book, audiobook).

Emotional Intelligence for Religious Leaders
Roy M. Oswald, John Lee West and Nadyne Guzman (Lanham, Maryland:  Rowman and Littlefield, 2018, 115 pages, hardcover, ebook, softcover)

Spiritual leadership “includes the enormous challenge of guiding people through their life choices, character development and emotional difficulties. … No other professional venue requires a person to manage as many emotional and spiritual burdens” (3). Writing within a Christian paradigm, the three authors collaborate with the experience in their fields: a pastoral coach and consultant (Roy Oswald), a therapist who’s worked with many clergy(John Lee West) and a university professor and hospital chaplain (Nadyne  Guzman); their goals are “to help individual religious leaders face their current challenges and to promote their ongoing development” and to guide seminaries and denominations “as they adjust their curriculum and policies to meet the critical task of developing emotionally intelligent religious leaders” (ix-x).

The eighteen competencies found in the pioneering work of Daniel Goldman are transformed into the six traits most essential for religious leadership: Emotional Self-Awareness, Emotional Self-Control, Empathy, Organizational Awareness, Influence (including leadership skills), and Conflict Management (8). Two chapters are devoted to the first trait, one each to the remaining five, plus a concluding chapter on the Spirituality of the Emotionally Intelligent Leader. They are described at a basic level and applied primarily to parish settings. Each chapter includes practical suggestions for growing emotional intelligence and spiritual maturity. In addition, there is a brief conclusion and endnotes.

Hopefully, board-certified chaplains already have learned and practice these skills. Nevertheless, it could be a good resource as part of an initial presentation of emotional intelligence concepts in a seminary setting, at the start of an extended unit of CPE or a residency, or as an adjunct to coaching someone lacking in one or more areas of emotional intelligence.

Their concluding words ring true for all who are on the journey of growing emotional intelligence:

[It] is not an easy process because it requires us to both confront our inner self while changing our external interactions. In many ways, we can be as much a mystery to ourselves as God is a mystery to us. Our growth is fueled, in part, by living through profoundly challenging interpersonal and group experiences. It is the pain within those encounters that can motivate us to improve ourselves and change our behavior with others. It is essential for religious leaders to be in continual growth—the importance of this process cannot be overstated. (105)

Reviewed by Roy F. Olson D. Min. a retired BCC who specialized in behavioral health chaplaincy.

The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook
Kristin Neff PhD and Christopher Germer PhD (New York and London: The Guilford Press,
2018, 206 pages, hardcover, spiral-bound, paperback, ebook)
“Be gentle with yourself.”
A chaplain mentor gave me these cherished words shortly after I began my first full-time chaplain position, post-residency. By now, this phrase has become like a trusted friend that provides support in times of stress. This phrase serves as a sort of summary of the message of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer.
I would recommend this book, pretty much without reservation, to anyone. Mindful self-compassion (MSC) is a necessary practice because, as the authors write, “Sometimes we need to comfort and soothe ourselves for how hard it is to be a human being before we can relate to our lives in a more mindful way” (2). This book and its perspective was timely for me before the COVID-19 pandemic, and I can say it is appropriate now more than ever.
Most of us try to be kind to others while playing drill sergeant when it comes to talking to ourselves. MSC promotes a different tactic for self-motivation and resilience, one that invites us to speak to ourselves as if we were a dear friend.
MSC is a very simple practice. Anyone can do it. You just have to be willing to set aside twenty to thirty minutes to read the short chapter and do one of the meditation exercises.
You can do the exercises by reading them yourself, or using the pre-recorded tracks available through the website listed in the book.
The three elements of self-compassion are introduced in the first chapter: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness (10). Those three elements are integrated into each exercise. There are twenty-four chapters, and almost each chapter has a variety of exercises to choose from. So no matter your preference regarding guided imagery vs. body scans, or something scripted vs. silence, you can practice the sequence of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
If MSC has a weakness, it would be that it could just cause frustration if one doesn’t take the time to generate gracious self-talk that really resonates deeply in one’s being. Like any well-meaning phrase we might offer to a friend, it may not be the right time, or feel superficial. So, my advice would be to spend a little more time on the first few chapters, seeing what works and what doesn’t for you. Once you find that voice, then the rest is very easy.
Again, the hardest thing is simply making the time. So…just do it. Who wouldn’t take twenty undistracted minutes to call back a friend who said she really needed some compassion? And who of us hasn’t been in that position, and forgotten to give ourselves that kind of compassion first?
Reviewed by Paul Goodenough MDiv BCC, Palliative Care Chaplain, IU Health Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, IN.

Spirit in Session: Working with Your Client’s Spirituality (and Your Own) in Psychotherapy 
Russell Siler Jones (West Conshohocken, PA:  Templeton Press, 2019, 275 pages, soft cover, e-book, audiobook). 
Rev. Dr. Russell Siler Jones has done the impossible: creating a cogent, practical, accessible introduction to improve spiritually-informed healing that is a delight to read.  This book will be invaluable for seasoned professionals, beginners and anywhere in between. Jones brings to bear on this complex subject a substantial academic and professional experience, yet his writing is personal and authentic, simple without being simplistic.  The book is never heavy handed, pompous or overbearing, as so many books on spiritual aspects of healing can be.  What is impressive is that this book could be a resource for those who consider themselves “not religious” to explore religion with respect and intelligence.  
We are invited to expand our awareness of how spiritual issues and concerns are presented and how they affect healing and health.  He helps us to tap into the spiritual/religious themes that emerge naturally from comments people make and to make the conversations more healing.  For example, he gives 15 examples of questions that can lead into conversations about religion and spirituality (62).   Jones invites us to learn to use our own spirituality without imposing our individual values and beliefs on others.  He helps us to open up and explore many avenues into this holy ground.  With his help, we can become more sensitive, more aware, more curious and more effective. 
The numerous verbatims and case studies are my favorite parts of this book. They are vibrant, real and informative, giving real life examples to help us deepen our conversations around the religious and spiritual resources and barriers. He includes chapters on Working with Harmful Spirituality where Jones acknowledges spirituality can be dysfunctional.  Also there is a chapter on Working with Spiritual Struggles.
In this work, spirituality, religion, and faith are explored, deepened and illustrated by stories from people who are struggling and seeking.
This work can be a resource for anyone seeking to deepen and sustain exploration of spiritual dynamics from a diverse perspective.  While it is marketed for therapists, it is a rare and essential book for anyone in pastoral care and chaplaincy.  We work at the edge of suffering and service with people from many backgrounds, and we need more practical language to explore all spiritual resources.
The theological reflections which are sprinkled throughout the book are lyrical, suggestive and evocative; though Jones is Christian, that designation does not define him.     The alternation between theory and praxis grounds the abstract into the concrete and practical. 
This would be an excellent text for chaplains, for clinical pastoral education, for any congregational and non-profit staff members and congregational members and for clergy involved with deepening religious maturity. 
Reviewed by Rev. Cathy Hasty MDIV THM BCC, Certified Educator ACPE LPCS-NC AAPC Diplomate, Charlotte, NC. Contact her at mchasty1@gmail.com.


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