Compassion Doesn’t Come Easy
I was at the end of the distribution line when God handed out the gift of compassion. It’s not that I’m incapable of caring or meeting the needs of others. I just don’t have the capacity to empathize with their pain as many others do.
For instance, I cleaned up my 8 year old daughter’s puke just the other night. Nasty! It was all over the toilet, the floor, AND in and around the tub. Don’t ask me how it made it’s way into the tub from the toilet. I have no idea. In my estimation, it took some creative cookie chucking to have it flung that far!
You see? That’s exactly what I’m talking about! Those were the kinds of thoughts running through my head – more than feeling the depths of my daughter’s agony.
Thankfully, I have grown in this area. One reason is because of the wonderful grace gift God paired me with. Whereas I bottom out on the mercy scale in any kind of gift assessment I’ve taken, my wife tips the scale in the opposite direction.
Another is because I have learned that:
Compassion isn’t just a feeling. It’s an act of kindness performed in order to meet a need.
My motive in mopping up my daughter’s mess was to assure her that things were going to be ok and to protect my wife from having to perform the dirty deed herself.
Why Compassion is Needed in the WorkPlace
That’s great for a person’s life at home right? But what about having compassion at work? Many in our culture today would say that compassion has little or no place in the WorkPlace environment. Compassion can be seen as a weakness that deters bottom line business objectives. Tell that to the child being cradled in the arms of a solider pictured above.
Despite this mindset that exists there are cited studies that provide a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Such research suggests that compassion not only improves WorkPlace culture and relationships, but also benefits bottom line objectives such as:
- Increasing employee engagement with their work
- Increasing commitment levels of team members working together
- Reducing employee turnover, absenteeism and sick days
- Improving family relationships at home which impacts engagement and productivity levels at work
Maybe compassion IS needed in the WorkPlace after all.
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Even more important than bottom line objectives is that, as believers we are Christ’s ambassadors; His representatives to the world.
It’s not enough to simply say that we love God, we must show anyone who is watching – yes, that does include our WorkPlace – what God’s love looks like. Showing compassion is what He does. It’s who He is. It should be what we do and who we are also.
Consider the following charge issued to us who have been rescued and redeemed from our sin through Christ’s loving, sacrificial death on a cross.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” ~ Colossians 3:12 NIV
In this context, these qualities stand in stark contrast to the characteristics (things like lust, anger, slander, filthy language, and sexual immorality) that describe what we once were, could have been, or things we should not be or do because of the exchanged identity Christ makes possible.
How Can We Create a Culture of Compassion?
Like with a lot of things in our lives, it all starts with us. If we can courageously display what the compassion of Christ looks like in our WorkPlaces I guarantee that it will be like a contagion that quickly spreads.
Here are 4 simple, but powerful, ways to help us do this.
1. Commemorating a Painful Time in Our Past
All of us have heard of trying to “put ourselves in someone else’s shoes” to help us identify or empathize with another’s personal challenge or pain. One of God’s mechanisms for helping us to do this better is by allowing us to go through times of pain and challenge ourselves. Consider the following verses.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:3-4 NIV (emphasis added)
- If we want to be like our Father (God) we must be people of compassion.
- God has a purpose for our pain.
One of those purposes is to be able to experience His compassion and help in such up close and personal ways, that we will then be able to take that same kind of care and help we received and extend it to others who are hurting.
2. Caring About the Need of Another in the Present
This may seem too simplistic. But, it implies something that isn’t. That is, it is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge for many in the WorkPlace to pause long enough in the midst of their busyness to notice a need.
In the middle of one of the busiest work days recorded in Jesus’ life, Matthew describes how Jesus practiced a strategic “pause point.” In so doing, he noticed a gigantic need that crowds around Him possessed.
“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” ~ Matthew 9:36 NIV
3. Choosing to Meet a Need in Front of Us
“If one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give the things which are needed…what does it profit?” ~ James 2:16 ESV
It’s not profitable to God, to those whose needs we notice, or to ourselves or the organizations we’re a part of if we see a need but don’t take action. We should seek to not withhold good from others when it is in our power to act (Proverbs 3:27).
This is good news for you who are action oriented and maybe a little challenged in the feelings department like me. Compassion is an action, not just a feeling. It’s a choice, just like choosing what shirt you’re going to wear in the morning and then putting it on (Colossians 3:12).
4. Calling Others to Join and Multiply the Impact
In a recent article entitled Compassion As Competitive Advantage, Dr. Jason Jones with Strata Leadership asserted:
Compassionate organizations are comprised of compassionate people who demonstrate care for one another inside the organization by addressing the needs of each person. When someone is in need, the organization recognizes the problem and comes together to help the the person or people in need.
He then told the story of how several companies in Oklahoma City created special funds to encourage employees to help their co-workers who had their homes demolished by the F5 tornado that ripped through the city in 1999.
These leaders epitomized compassion. They cared about a need they recognized. They chose to meet that need in a tangible way with the resources at their disposal, and then invited others to participate.
As a result of this community wide demonstration of compassion a devastating time was transformed into an amazing community building experience, while at the same time, causing the trust, loyalty, and commitment of those involved in these organizations to soar.
- How have you been helped by the compassion of others in the past?
- What are some needs you are aware of in your family, church, your company or broader community that God may be leading you to meet this Christmas season?
- Who will you invite to participate in meeting these needs? What could be the potential impact?
Question: How have you been blessed by an act of compassion? I would love to hear your story! Share your answer on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn through one of the tabs below.