When someone spontaneously moves to help another in need it’s referred to as Responsive Empathy. There’s very little that is theoretical about this type of empathy. It’s what we want in our Emergency Medical Technicians. They enter on the scene and they get to work. Rather than leading with giving perspective (Cognitive) or by emotionally mirroring (Feeling), they make things happen. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Responsive empathizers actually get to work.
How can you grow in empathy?
What’s not to like? Obviously, if this is an emergency situation, response is critical. If the situation allows for more processing, Responsive empathizers can do themselves (and others) a favor by taking time to listen, bring perspective, and attempt to mirror emotionally.
And how about you? What is your default form of empathy, and how can you grow? In conclusion, I’m drawn to the parable of the Good Samaritan, one who seemed to understand the facets of empathy and love, and who was lauded as one who landed things well. Here goes. Listen to Jesus. God bless you as you grow.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
“Go and do likewise.”