Adding Value to the Lives of Others

2022 AAEC Service Award recipient Dr. Dharius Daniels helps others unleash their untapped potential
News Dharius Daniels

Speaker, coach, and certified emotional intelligence specialist Dr. Dharius Daniels, MDiv ’04, is on a mission to help as many people as possible become their best selves while doing their best work. He is also the lead pastor of the multi-site, multi-regional Change Church, which he founded in 2005 after graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary.

It was Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology Emeritus Dr. Darrell Guder’s Missional Theology class at Princeton Seminary that helped Daniels understand what it looks like for a church to do ministry incarnationally, and led him down the path to planting his own. Since its inception, Change Church, which accepts all socioeconomic classes, ages, and ethnicities, has helped thousands transform and mend their lives.

Daniels became interested in coaching and mentoring after he received some life coaching from a pastor in 2014. He was looking for ways to better steward his life when his overwhelming schedule led to an anxiety attack.

“I got clearer and developed a greater conviction around things I could do versus what others can do,” he says. “I became happier, healthier, and more productive at the things in my life that actually matter.”

Inspired to do the same for others, Daniels received training in coaching. He began using those skills as a pastor before expanding entrepreneurially with his own coaching groups, and has since trained and certified 130 coaches.

Through his coaching work, Daniels came to understand the important role of emotional intelligence — a set of emotional and social skills that determines how we see ourselves, perceive others, and manage relationships. Emotional intelligence is closely linked to theology, he says, which is evident in the curricula that he and his coaches create around emotional health and wellness.

“When we address emotional health, we attend to a person’s soul,” he says. “There cannot be the transformation of themselves without the transformation of the soul. I can’t help people change until I help them see this.”

Daniels is also a published author. His most recent book, Relational Intelligence: The People Skills You Need for the Life of Purpose You Want, is based on his series of sermons on the ways Jesus managed relationships with his disciples.

“I noticed that many people’s problems are tied to relationship management,” he says. “It affects everything.” The book offers guidance on how to assess, define, and align platonic relationships, and activate them to unlock your greatest potential.

The years spent at Princeton Seminary were highly consequential for Daniels in his formation as a person and his preparation for ministry, helping him to be a more thorough thinker and more gracious when engaging with different points of view.

“It gave me some skills I needed to think critically about what we were actually doing as a church,” he says. Princeton Seminary also exposed him to a diversity of well-articulated views that “prepared me for doing ministry in an era where the culture is becoming much more pluralistic and we’re seeing different ways within the Christian faith.”

His advice for future Princeton Seminary alumni? “Lean in, absorb, and wrestle with what you learn in class because, in ways you can’t predict, it will give you the thinking and presentation skills you’ll need to serve a changing church. These are the skills God is using to prep you for what you don’t know how to prepare for.”

Daniels will be honored at Reunion 2022 as this year's AAEC Service Award recipient on May 24.

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Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Pastor at Franklin Lakes United Methodist Church, New Jersey

Alison VanBuskirk, Class of 2015

“My call as a pastor centers on shaping a community where people can connect and be real with each other and God.”