Just like doctors can become calloused to the physical suffering of their patients, we as leaders can become hardened to the people in our ministry and lives. It can be painful to walk with them through their struggles time and again, and sometimes we wish we didn’t feel so deeply. It’s tempting to harden up a bit.
Recently, a friend and I were both in the throes of navigating through troubling situations with others. We were lamenting about our empathetic hearts, and how painful it is to experience people making unwise choices. We wondered out loud if it would be better to just toughen up so we wouldn’t feel so deeply. But we both knew the answer—God designed us that way, and He wants us to be Christlike in our response to others.
So, whether it’s dealing with difficult relationships in the ministry, repetitive situations with clients, or heart-rending scenarios on the home front—my friend and I committed to have soft, Christlike hearts.
1) See with Jesus’ eyes.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36 ESV).
Jesus didn’t just see the unruly, irritable, and self-centered people; He saw the reason behind it—they weren’t in a relationship with Him. When engaging with people, let’s look beneath the surface. Instead of reacting to their behavior in judgment, let’s respond in honor—seeing them as individuals made in God’s image, designed to be in a close relationship with Him.
2) Feel with Jesus’ heart.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:15 ESV).
From first-hand experience, Jesus understands what it’s like to live in this fallen world. He empathizes with our lack of strength and propensity to sin, and He calls us to Himself. Let’s be like Jesus. When people are messing up around us, let’s have empathy and let’s help them find grace in their time of need.
3) Love like Jesus did.
“There came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.’ And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean’” (Luke 5:12-13 ESV).
Jesus didn’t recoil from needy, sick people. He moved toward them and touched them. Let’s embrace the hurting people in our lives. Let’s intentionally accept them, affirm them, and share God’s truth with them.
Leaders encounter challenging people almost daily. To keep from becoming jaded, leaders can press into Jesus, remember His sympathy and love toward them, and extend that love to others.
“To keep from becoming jaded toward people, leaders can press into Jesus, remember His sympathy and love toward them, and extend that love to others.”- Lisa Hosler
How has God helped you keep your heart soft toward others? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.