Occasionally a word keeps coming up that would be stored or used in another place. Why is this word all over my life this week??
First thought: a slender figure in a fashion magazine; second: something you build as a representation—BUT NO—This past week—more than one person kept using this word as “as an example to follow.” And I pondered, “Why?”
Am I a bad model? What should I model? Is there a characteristic I should be working on? Then kaboom…a story about empathy had me thinking and digging….
What word describes me better? Empathetic or Disinterested?
Empathy is defined as “sensitivity to emotions-both positive and negative, of other people. Empathy is being in the heart of another person.
Colossians 3:12-14 The Message (MSG)
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Disinterested is defined as “having or feeling no interest in something.” Researchers say that we react to emotion of others in two ways: with empathy and caregiving or we feel threatened — might try to help if it minimizes our own discomfort.
Research also says that our EXPERIENCE (AKA, childhood) marks our ability to correctly read and respond to other’s emotions.
Remember, the four Wesley factors that illuminated the Christian faith?
Scripture, Tradition, Reason, Experience
Empathy and compassion: keys to living the Scripture, building the Tradition with our hearts, and using our Reason to overcome evil.
I must MODEL: No matter what my experience…in childhood. No loopholes.
Suggestions on how to improve your “empathetic skills” by Susan Kuczmarkski, faculty member at Northwestern University, WSJ, May 3 ,2016:
*Pay attention to your reactions to other people’s emotions. Are you judging the other person? Challenge your assumptions.
* Listen carefully. Make eye contact.
* Acknowledge what you’ve heard by paraphrasing
*Accept the other person’s feelings. Remember, just being concerned is helpful
*Don’t tell someone not to be angry or sad—or things will get better. You don’t fix. Just validate their feelings.
Model. I must become a better model when I get DRESSED in my wardrobe: kindness, compassion, humility…these are the things I will put on.
O LORD, give me more charity, more self-denial, more likeness to thee. Teach me to sacrifice my comfort to others, and my likings for the sake of doing good. Make me kindly in thought, gentle in word, generous in deed. Teach me that it is better to give than to receive, better to forget myself than to put myself forward, better to minister than to be ministered unto. And to thee the God of love, be all glory and praise, now and forever. –based on a prayer by Henry Alford (1810-1871)
Be a MODEL for God.