|Empathy and Connection------------By Robert|
The lights are lowered in the big auditorium as the charismatic speaker steps to the podium. He has long known how to connect with people emotionally, morally, and evangelically. The audience feels lifted, inspired, and ready to try again. Unfortunately, all of this can occur without any real "connection" on the level of empathy.
Empathy connecting is not based in what I want from someone, but rather in compassion, to give something to someone. Bill Clinton was a good "connector" yet he clearly struggled in how he treated women. So the question exists, how much did he really value people, how deep did his empathy really run?
A minister was head of many thousands of pastors in his association of ministers and he pastored a very large church. Many people looked to his example and influence, however, he feel into sexual sin and drug use. How did love not constrain him? So many people looked to his example. Where were the people that he surrounded himself with that connected with his heart and he with theirs. Where were the people that knew him well enough to pick up on the tell-tale signs and speak into his life? He was clearly visionary, clearly a "leader," yet connecting in true empathy appeared to be lacking.
A person with zero empathy is a psychopath. A person with developed empathy can identify with another's situation, feelings, and motives. They can make another feel felt, that he has allowed them into his heart and truly cares about their well-being. Empathy drives compassion. Without empathy true repentance is impossible. I may be sorry I got caught or for the consequences I'll face, but not for how my actions hurt the other person.
The good news is that empathy can be learned and developed. We can consider our interactions with others and talk them out with a friend or journal about them asking questions like, "Where were they coming from when they said that? What might be the motive behind why they acted that way?" It's similar to the familiar adage of "putting yourself in the other's shoes." Empathy allows us to connect deeply, giving us more loving and intimate relationships.