The part of Christianity that we Believers participate in is entirely relational. As aspiring spiritual leaders, it is incumbent on us to be able to "perceive the spirit of another" and "understand its condition at that moment" (Ken Nair).
How do we do that? To answer the question in part, let's look at three different types of people. As strange as it sounds, and even though our motivations will be quite different, let's look at con men, business negotiators and human lie detectors.
Con men use the knowledge they obtain for personal gain, but we want to develop the same awareness to do good. Business negotiators want to benefit financially by their negotiations, but we are interested here in benefiting spiritually. The motivation of human lie detectors is to discover whether someone is being truthful or not. We are interested in understanding the spiritual condition of the people we have relationships with. So, even though we have different motivations, what do con men, business negotiators and human lie detectors look for in the people they interact with?
Interestingly, confidence men are expert in their awareness of people and their spirits. They take advantage of their ability to "read" people. They study their victim's circumstances, weaknesses, insecurities and ignorances. They know how to make people feel confidence in them and build trust.
In business negotiations, it is understood that non-verbal communication, "body language" accounts for up to 90% of the communication that actually happens between negotiators. We may lean forward or back, use our hands in gestures, make facial expressions and place our arms in different positions. We may physically move in close (even touch) or keep our distance. Our physical appearance and the way we dress send unspoken messages. We may maintain eye-contact or avoid it. We use voluntary and involuntary facial expressions that communicate our inner-feelings. Even our posture sends messages about what we are thinking and feeling.
Some people are unusually adept at detecting when others are lying to them. Human lie detectors carefully listen to what people are telling them, read body language, for example fidgeting and what a person does with their hands, and carefully watch the eyes to determine if someone is lying to them.
As you can see, all of these types of people develop keen powers of observation. They watch body language, especially the face and eyes. They listen carefully to pick up verbal cues as to how a person is feeling by their words and voice inflection. These people are also able to control their own body language, facial expressions, eye movements, voice inflection, words, hands, arms, posture and gestures to achieve their desired objectives.
If we are to be effective spiritual leaders we must also develop keen powers of observation (the ability to perceive the spirit of another and understand its condition) and we must increase our ability to exhibit "self-control" (a fruit of the Spirit) not only of our emotions, but of our physical communication, to achieve our desired objective of Christlikeness. Examples to follow...