This week we celebrated Veteran’s Day. Founder, Reverend Johnny Flowers, is a proud veteran and continues to serve his country at a grassroots local level. South Dallas is fortunate to have Reverend Flowers helping change the way communities respond to conflict resolution. The quality I admire most in Reverend Flowers is his capacity for empathy.
Compassion and empathy can be taught and the best way to teach children how to be kind, compassionate, and caring adults is to show them. A child is more likely to notice what gets our attention more than anything we tell them.
In a culture which puts a great emphasis on individual achievement and happiness, it is smart to consider that true happiness can be found when we are giving our time and talents to others.
· Let children see you behaving compassionately toward them, to community members, with complete strangers, and don’t forget your spouse. It can be easy to become task-oriented with a spouse as opposed to a devoted partner.
· Look for opportunities to catch your child behaving compassionately and call the behavior out. Children love to hear praise. Positive reinforcement is more powerful than correcting negative behaviors. When you see other children or adults acting with empathy, using compassionate gestures, or thoughtful comments - make sure to compliment them by telling that person how much you admire that quality in them. Explain to your child why empathy is an important value to your family.
· Speak into them. Words are powerful when shaping a child’s future. When a child performs a kind act be specific in acknowledging exactly what you appreciated. Rather than say a simple “thank you for helping,” be precise by speaking to their character. You are so helpful. I really liked how you helped your sister put her clothes up without having to be asked. I bet that made her feel like the pile of laundry was not quite as big.
Studies show children who serve and help others become happier and more successful adults as a result. If you have an unruly teenager, nothing will get them out of their head faster than serving someone else.
“ Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way,
you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
- Galatians 6:2
We can effectively love and show empathy toward others by helping bear their burdens. Listening to others pains and struggles, helping if and when it applies, is one of the best ways to serve.