Spiritual Intelligence (SQ)

Developing Spiritual Intelligence

Spiritual Intelligence, or SQ

When Elder Bednar was president of BYU-I (then Ricks College), he gave a talk on developing spiritual intelligence. We have a brief mention of this term in our glossary, but I thought it was worth highlighting points he made and define it in greater detail.

He defines spiritual intelligence this way: “Intelligence is the application of what we know for righteous purposes. That statement bears repeating. Intelligence is the application of what we know for righteous purposes. There is an element of action, an element of obedience, in true spiritual intelligence.

“The intelligence I am talking about is not an academic pursuit; it is a spiritual pursuit wherein we learn and apply what we know for righteous purposes.” (David A. Bednar, “Gain Spiritual Intelligence,” Ricks College Devotional, September 9, 1997.)

The Law of the Harvest

Another way of looking at this principle of developing Spiritual Intelligence is in the context of the Law of the Harvest. “You reap what you sow” is such a common refrain that perhaps we don’t even think about it any further than that. However, there are deep principles of truth in that doctrine. Alma correlates the harvest law to this idea of developing our spiritual intelligence in Alma 32:28:

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

Good seeds, seeds of knowledge and truth, when planted in the correct soil and properly nourished, enlighten our understanding.

Harvest and Intelligence

Sheri Dew, in an address at BYU-Hawaii says this so much better than I ever could:

Knowledge is priceless, and knowledge about gifts from God is the most valuable knowledge of all. It is simply a mistake to not learn everything we can about the gifts God has given us–and particularly gifts that give us access to His power. Elder David A. Bednar has said that “knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion.” Conversion is what lifts us out of this world and gives us a vision higher than the world’s.

True conversion requires immersion–immersion in truth. Immersion in the word of God. Immersion in the teachings of prophets, seers, and revelators. Immersion in the temple. And immersion in the Spirit. True conversion doesn’t just happen. It takes sustained spiritual work. When we immerse ourselves in the gospel, we authorize heaven to tutor us. Our Father explained: “I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more.” If we want to learn the mysteries of the kingdom, if we want to understand how God works, He will teach us–if we immerse ourselves in truth. It is a mistake to not learn all our Father will teach us. 

If you want to progress, if you want to feel more confident, if you want to ensure your future, plant the seed of knowledge and immerse yourself in truth.  (Sheri L. Dew, “Planting Seeds of Greatness,” March 18, 2014.)

law of the harvest and spiritual intelligence

Your SQ Score

To acquire spiritual knowledge is to study. To acquire spiritual intelligence is to continue in the upward spiral of learning and applying eternal truths without stopping. It is to revisit principles you may think you already know, only to grasp them in new ways, that then add further light and enlightenment to your soul.

When we speak of measuring our intelligence, or IQ, there are a variety of tests we can take that will return a value, or score. How is spiritual intelligence, your SQ, measured? There is no earthly exam that can be scored or counted in a way that will be accounted in heaven.

There are, however, some criteria we can watch and measure ourselves against. They come from Elder Bednar’s address:

“Here are a few examples that highlight the distinction between knowledge and intelligence:

  • “You and I may know the right things to do–that is knowledge. But if you and I are intelligent, we will consistently do the right things. It is one thing to know what to do, but intelligence is consistently doing the right thing.
  • “It is important and good and necessary to know that the gospel is true. Intelligence is consistently being true to the gospel.
  • “It is one thing to know that in our lives principles of the gospel work. If you and I are intelligent, we will consistently work to apply the principles of the gospel in our lives.
  • “It is one thing to know and understand the importance of going to the temple. If you and I are increasing in intelligence, then the temple goes through us. It is not just a matter of going to the temple, but it is a matter of having the ordinances and covenants and the spirit of the temple go through us.
  • “We may know and understand that we should be active in the Church. Intelligence is living in such a way that the doctrines of the Church are active in us–an active part of who we are, and what we are, and what we do, and what we think.”
    (Bednar, “Gain Spiritual Intelligence.”)

What is your SQ? What are you doing today to increase it?

Laura is not a MENSA member, and if there were such a society for SQ would not qualify for that either. But she tries every day to partner with the Savior to build her spiritual intelligence.

About the Author:

Laura will be the first to tell you she’s not perfect. That’s why she loves the restored gospel, and loves the atonement.