by Irini Fambro
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space. Learn more here >
There I sat amidst many church leaders that I respect, listening to one of them express his opinion about a worship leader’s choice of style. Each one of us tried to find an answer to his concern. Everything from generational differences to personal preferences. The answers were all helpful, but not connecting to the leader’s heart. I sat there asking the Holy Spirit to show me what He would say, what was unseen in this moment.
“Who is he in the church?” I felt the Holy Spirit ask me.
“Well, I see him as a father in the house. He always reflects the fathering heart of God.”
“Now look at his issue through this unseen filter, what do you see now?” The Holy Spirit asked.
“I see God speaking to him as a father and seeing the worship leader as a son that needs fathering.”
What was seen? The worship leader’s choice of style.
What was unseen? His need to be fathered as a son in the house.
The leader thought the worship leader’s style was bothering him when in fact God was speaking to his heart, father-to-father, to reach a son in the house. As I began to unpack this unseen perspective to the leader, you could see it connecting to his heart. The enemy wanted to point this leader to an unseen realm, an unhealthy one that would judge and diminish an individual...but God had other plans. There is an unseen realm built by fear and there is one built by faith; both are spiritual.
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).
Spiritual intelligence points people to an unseen realm that affects the world around them. The Bible speaks clearly of an unseen world that is parallel to ours, but many of us live unaware of it. Spiritual intelligence is how we describe the God-given wisdom of being aware of the spiritual dimension of reality.
“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (I Corinthian 2:13, NIV).
It is not hard to see things from human wisdom, from what I physically witness day in and day out without effort. Before I ever existed on this Earth, I first existed as a thought in the mind and heart of God. God thought about me and then knitted me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). This is so contrary to the daily manner in which I operate that God made a list of people in Hebrews 11 to remind me of the challenge to choose the unseen realm of faith over fear.
• Noah believed an unseen warning and not the fear of man’s ridicule and it saved his family
• Abraham believed in an unseen land and the seen fear of the unknown journey and gained a legacy and inheritance
• Sarah believed in an unseen conception and not the seen fear of age and conceived despite natural limitations
The unseen realm encountered by faith ushered people through their natural limitations into a greater spiritual expectation. Spiritual intelligence invites us to consider reality beyond our natural realm and therefore can sometimes seem counter-intuitive or even contradictory to other ways of looking at things. Waiting for Sarah to have her 90th birthday before getting pregnant seems like poor planning on God’s part, and yet God said this was the appointed time (Genesis 17, 21). God—with His superior spiritual smarts—acted contrary to time, knowledge, emotions, and science to speak deeply to Abraham and Sarah. Each of us has reaped the benefits of that choice.
Every situation we encounter has an unseen spiritual dimension, and we are always needing to choose between fear and faith. Spiritual intelligence offers a greater perspective than the natural world and enables us to make decisions and solve problems in every circumstance.
Questions I ask when brainstorming decision-making through the lens of spiritual intelligence:
1. Putting all the other considerations aside, what do I believe God thinks about this situation?
2. What are the spiritual implications about this decision?
3. Are there spiritual battles working for or against this decision?
4. Have I prayed about this decision? Is there a peace?
God promises to give wisdom to all who ask (James 1:2-5) and spiritual discernment (smarts) to all who have His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-16), so spiritual intelligence is something we can all grow in. Being able to point people to the unseen realm of faith when everyone else is limited by fear or their focus on what is seen takes practice.
As with all the intelligences: emotional, temporal, cultural, and spiritual – God offers His Holy Spirit to guide and teach us into all truth (John 16:13). The ability to discern the spiritual undercurrents coursing below everyday life is a God-given set of “smarts”: He has made you smarter than you think.
Irini Fambro is a wife and mother, teacher and student, speaker and listener. She and her high school love, Kenneth, have two children: Kalila and Kenneth. She is an ordained minister that has her Masters of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and just recently finished her PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University.