Empathy In The Kingdom

happy-intercessor_lgI’ve been reading a great book this week, The Happy Intercessor by Beni Johnson. It has me thinking about empathy.

I believe empathy is genetic. Like being left-handed, I think it’s a trait that many of us are born with–a capacity to feel and understand other people’s feelings and motivations. Maybe it’s also something we learn from years of living closely together in families, marriages, and other intimate relationships.

But empathy has a dark side too. How many times have you heard someone say “he/she knows how to push my buttons.” They’re usually not talking about a happy experience.

Empathy is not compassion. Knowing what someone else is feeling is a chance to either heal or wound, and all of us have used that understanding to hurt, humiliate, or attack someone close to us. It happens.

Even the most loving person occasionally fails to love. But for the believer who seeks to be a real disciple, empathy is a critical tool for building compassionate and healing Kingdom relationships.

Beni’s story of her own experience will be helpful and affirming for anyone who is in the business of “empathic listening.” If you find yourself wondering, after some particularly stressful season, “What am I doing? How do I know I’m called to be an intercessor, counselor, doctor, teacher, etc?” then get the book and read it.

Beni’s account of her own journey will help you recognize the empathic God moments in your own life. Just knowing that you’re probably doing what you’ve been called to do is really comforting, especially when you’re feeling defeated or helpless in the face of challenges. I’m finding that Beni’s story is helping me identify the forgotten moments in my own journey. Her story validates and confirms mine. It will do the same for yours.

Beni’s book has opened my eyes to our shared calling–not just among intercessors, but in all of us who are called to be healers, comforters, deliverers, teachers, preachers, and servants in His Kingdom. Most of us are empathic.

We do not always succeed, but nevertheless, we are all called to faithfully, generously apply forgiveness, compassion, mercy, and reconciling love, like His divine balm, on the wounds of our world.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (Romans 8:26-28.)


Comments are closed.