The Importance of Being Empathetic

From Dan McClain…

At my current job I have to talk to many different people.  And sometimes they can be quite difficult.  Much of the time they’re difficult because after exhausting all of their own ideas and measures, they still fall short.  They have had to admit failure and call me. But early on in my training for the job, my employer emphasized that empathy was the number one, most important response that we should have with our customers.  Not false or fake empathy, but real-listen to their story-feel their discomfort and respond in an appropriate way- kind of empathy.

So when I answer a customer’s call, and after we’ve exchanged the usual names and phone numbers, I start by asking, “What’s going on?”  And then they tell me their story.  They have a problem.  They have something bad that’s happened.  They wanted to do something that they thought would be easy but that’s turned out frustratingly difficult and beyond their scope.  And even though all of these stories are different they’re the same in that, they all have problems that they are relying on me to help them with.   As I listen, sometimes I find myself quickly thinking of how to solve the problem, but then I remember my training.  Empathy first.  Listen, really listen.  Understand that it’s not a technical problem on the other end of the phone but rather a person with a frustration about a technical problem.

This approach to interacting with a human works to resolve issues and satisfy people more often then it doesn’t.  This approach is also good to have away from work, and it reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Romans.

Romans 12:9-21 (ESV)

Marks of the True Christian

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.  14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

All of these verses are great and challenging.  For the purposes of this post I wanted to pull out verse fifteen.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  How wonderful this reminder and charge is from scripture.  What this verse is describing is empathy.

Rejoice with those who rejoice.  Looking around at the families at Crosspoint we can find so much joy in the victories that God is using to bring Himself glory.  Praise God for the, new believers justified, the family members healed, the addiction overcome, and the hurt forgiven.  Rejoice and find assurance in God’s will unfolding.

Weep with those who weep.  To empathize is to understand that the weeping person God has placed across the table from us is not a sin problem.  They are a hurting person, struggling in a fallen world, in desperate need of Jesus.  It is in these moments as we weep that times can be so difficult.  We try and exhaust all of our own ideas and measures.  We fall short.  We have to admit failure and surrender to Jesus

Galatians 6:2  (ESV)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.