What does it mean to be Compassionate?

When you hear the word Compassionate what do you think of? Would you say that you were a compassionate person? What does this look like and feel like in your learning community?

I think we can have a perception that it means being kind, caring, empathetic. To some degree this is accurate however it is more. Compassion grows out of empathy. It is the ability to ‘be with’ and to ‘feel with’, without taking on or becoming overwhelmed with the emotions of the other. It includes intentionality or action in the way we respond.
But it is even more. If you have time you may want to watch this quick video where Mette Boll from the Centre for Systems Awareness provides insights into compassion.

Being compassionate to people we like, or we see are in need is one thing but demonstrating this to people we DON’T LIKE or who have hurt us or others, or who we don’t agree with is something else!

The Gospels are full of examples and references where Jesus demonstrates compassion repeatedly to people who were hungry, who were sick, who were grieving, who didn’t feel that they belonged, who needed help. While the needs of the people touched his heart, he was not overwhelmed by this, he was able to act, to serve, to love and to care.

There are also references in the Bible where taking a compassionate stance is much more challenging.
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28. Mmm, not my favourite bible passage!
Probably the ultimate example are the words of Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. This takes my understanding of compassion to a whole new level.

While a general description of how we can be compassionate to people who have hurt us or we don’t agree with or we simply don’t like, talks about seeing the ‘humanity’ in the person. From a Christian perspective I would say it’s seeing God in them, and that certainly changes everything. Read 1 John chapter 4 which talks about God being love and the source of love which is great news for those of us who struggle with compassion for others and for ourselves.

God has more than enough love and is so eager to fill us and especially our hearts with abundant love which we could never generate ourselves.

Dear God, source of all love, fill us with compassion for ourselves, especially when we mess up, when we fall short of our own expectations, when we say and think things that are less than ‘loving’, give us your lens and heart of love and compassion. Remind us that you are the source of love and compassion to draw on when it’s needed with family members, with friends and with members of our learning communities. Help us to see You in those people who challenge us the most, who have hurt us, who make us angry, annoyed, and disgusted. Remind us that for you there is no ‘other’ we are all loved and worthy of love. Bless us so that we can individually and collectively become our vision: “a community of learning communities that is thriving, supportive and compassionate.”  Amen

Mignon Weckert
Educational Leadership Director


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