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Empathy Works

There are so many different tools in the “Teaching Others” Ministry toolbox. Some of us are master storytellers, some are craft and glue stick geniuses, some are musically gifted to hold the attention of preschoolers or teenagers, and even some of us are simply gifted to be dependable.   There is one tool that we should get out every single time we work with people; it s called empathy.   Empathy is simply defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

When working with children, students, or their parents it is so important that we carry empathy with us whenever we interact with them.   When we help others see that we are also on a journey to know Christ, and when we help othes see that we ve been through some of the same things they ve been through, and when we take the time to listen to the feelings of those around us; then we can truly gain their trust while also creating healthy soil for planting seeds of God s Word in their life.

There are a few ways that we can ensure we always teach with empathy.

Pray. When we take the time to pray before we teach, then we are preparing a place for us to lead with empathy. What would happen if we prayed at length before we walk into the room to lead others through Gods Word? Dare you to try it!

Take the time to listen. When we give others the opportunity to speak, then we give ourselves the opportunity to hear; and when we listen and hear what they are saying, then we give ourselves the opportunity to be Holy Spirit led in our teaching.   The Holy Spirit will always help us understand and share the feelings of others.

Share your own story. Throw away the I stole a cookie from my mommy testimony that we ve all used a thousand times with kids; and instead share your real story. If you re speaking with teenagers from broken homes, then share your own story of growing up in a broken home.   When your speaking to young children about overcoming fear, then share a real-life fear you have as an adult.   When you take the time to share your story, then God can help your empathy lead others closer to God s voice.

Give God a chance to lead you to listen and share.   I believe that when we use the tool of empathy, we can see our time with children as the chance to create and nurture world changing Christians.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.