Day 20 – Empathy vs. Sympathy

On the sixth day of each week of our study, we watch a short animated video. Today’s helps us to better understand empathy.

In the video we learned four key steps to showing empathy:

  1. Perspective taking, or putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
  2. Staying out of judgment and listening.
  3. Recognizing emotion in another person that you have maybe felt before.
  4. Communicating that you can recognize that emotion.

I wanted to reinforce this message today because after spending nearly twenty years in ministry I have often felt that it was up to me to do something when somebody was struggling or in crisis. I once had a close friend call me and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Jimmy is dead.” Jimmy was her brother and a friend of mine. He struggled with mental illness and substance abuse and earlier that morning he had overdosed. It is often in moments of severe crisis when we learn that we truly do not have the words. All I could do was go and be with her and her family. I have had too many moments like this as a pastor, but these moments have taught me that it takes far more courage and vulnerability to not have words and instead give presence.

Last week my best friend showed up at my house with gloves on and a drill. He came because he knew I have been struggling to get motivated to finish the walls in what will be my home office. It meant more to me than ten thousand words.

I know it has already been said, so I promise this is the last time I will say it: Speak less and instead offer more presence to your bandmates. Jesus is with you. The life-giving Holy Spirit is in you. Try this: Do the showing up for your band, and let Jesus have the ministry part.

The Prayer

Jesus, as you have been present to me, let me be present to others. Help me to be humble. Help me not be the hero, but rather as Jesus demonstrated, help me serve others in love. Amen.

For Band Interaction

Consider sharing a time in your life when somebody showed up in your life in a way that meant something to you.