Here we are then, on the final approach. The runway is well lit. We have a clear sky and a sound pilot. The landing gear is the last crucial piece. On our leadership journey we should consider the landing gear as empathy. True, genuine empathy is the final block which all of our former achievements shall hold up. Practicing empathy is the fastest form of human communication. With it we can break through all barriers that separate us from teamwork. For in empathy we must train our self to honestly see things from the others' point of view.
We have been born into a world where the mechanisms exist to permit the ease of evil while barriers stand in the way of good. We find in modern day western culture we are inundated with fear in such a manner that it is easy to arouse suspicions and hard to win trust. How do we overcome? Empathy is so rarely practiced today that we find it foreign and awkward to dabble in. When studying early Christian history we find an interesting statement on empathy from the work titled The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. The statement follows, "The old men used to say that we should each of us look upon our neighbor's experiences as if they were our own. We should suffer with our neighbor in everything and weep with him, and should behave as if we were inside his body; and if any trouble befalls him, we should feel as much distress as we would for ourselves."
Empathy is defined in one dictionary as the power of entering into another’s personality and imaginatively experiencing his feelings. We should take pause for reflection upon this word. It seems an impossible task. How can we possibly feel what another is feeling? Over the next several weeks we will explore together some methods for practicing empathy. Imagine though the power of empathy. How much will those around us benefit from it? What will others think of us when we show them that we really, honestly, feel things through their eyes and through their perspective, as if we were they? Jesus Christ when asked which is the most important commandment responded, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Imagine the importance of this; to love God and to love our neighbor as much as we love our own self. These Jesus says are the basis for the entire Christian faith. Could it be possible that by mastering empathy we move one step closer to mutual love?
Copyright © Robert Clinton Chedester 2013