The Extent of Empathy

There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and recovered hope.
George Elliot
When we put ourselves in the other person's place, we're less likely to want to put him in his place.
Farmer's Digest

The tin woodsman in The Wizard of Oz provides a good reminder for ministers. At one point in that beloved old film, he says that in the past he's had both a brain and a heart, and having had both he prefers having a heart if he can have only one of the two.

If I had to choose which is the more important attribute for pastors, a heart (for people) or a brain (intellectual ability), based on my experience I'd also opt for the heart. For theologians and other scholars, that may not be the case, but for those who are in the people ministry, who do the day-to-day work of touching human need, the heart is essential.

Most pastors do a lot of counseling, whether ...

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