Leading Through Lent – The Antidote of Empathy
This week we look to John 9, the story of the man born blind.
As we explore the leadership message for this scripture, it quickly becomes apparent the man born blind is experiencing shame at the hands of the people around him.
Shame and the Antidote of Empathy
Look at the role shame played in the man’s life experience. We’ll look at what shame is, how it’s showing up, and the results/impact of shame on his life.
Then, we’ll explore the antidote of empathy and reflect on the environment you facilitate as a leader. Empathy fuels connection. Shame is a guarantee of disconnection.
As leaders, we help facilitate a connection to Christ, one another, and our local communities. We’ll see in this scripture, where connection is lacking, shame often exists. But, when empathy is present it fuels connection.
It will come as no surprise that Jesus models empathy for the man born blind as well as the people who witnessed the events around his sight being restored.
What type of environment are you facilitating?
Common Ways Shame Shows Up in the Church
- Back-channeling—a broad range of behaviors that all share in common not being direct or upfront with people. For example, the meeting after the meeting, also known as the Parking Lot Meeting.
- Comparison— “not measuring up” to someone, a ministry, pastor, or another church. This is not about healthy competition and seeking to grow.
- Favoritism—playing favorites, whether it’s directed at staff, ministries, leaders, different worship services, etc, it doesn’t matter.
- Invisible army – the royal “we.” “We,” think you need to…”We,” believe there needs to be attention given to…
- Nostalgia—weaponizing the way things used to be. Often found in technology areas. In the church, this reverts to the “glory days.” The stories told have an element of truth but are often exaggerated and not remembered as things were. For example, when the sanctuary was always full. The sanctuary may have been more full than it is today, but was it really always full? Unlikely.
- The fear of irrelevance is the number one shame trigger at work.
- Perfectionism—seeking to be perfect. This is not the same as healthy striving.
- Power over—versus power with and power to. Power is not finite; the more you share it, the more it grows. In other words are people empowered to do the work of ministry? If not, shame can be present.