"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15 NIV
Thoughts for Today
Are you trying to help someone with a problem? Developing certain qualities in your relationship will enable you to help your friend more effectively. We will be looking at some of those traits this week. One of these qualities is called empathy.
There is a difference between empathy and sympathy. With accurate empathy, we can correctly perceive the feelings of another person without being captured by that person's emotions. If we sympathize, we may actually feel what our friend feels, preventing us from being objective in a helping relationship since we are likely to be caught up in our hurting friend's emotions. The focus may become pity and prevent healing. Compassion and understanding assist the helper in perceiving the other person's feelings and experiences accurately.
The key to accurate empathy is understanding the pain while remaining in a neutral position. As a helper, set your goal to feel with the hurting person instead of feeling what the individual feels.
Even if you've never experienced the same hurts as your friend, with accurate empathy you can help. A helping relationship starts with the development of empathy.
Father, I really want to help my hurting friend. And I'd like to develop stronger relationships with all my friends. Teach me to feel with them. In Jesus' name …
These thoughts were drawn from…
Understanding the Times. This book by Dr. Jimmy Lee offers biblical strategies for ministry to our family and friends. Contemporary issues and needs faced by society are addressed with biblical principles that are timeless. Ideal for small group leaders and Sunday school teachers who want a better understanding of ministry in an addictive culture. The qualities described in this week's devotions are derived from Gary Sweeten's work in Apples of God I and II. We appreciate his contribution.
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