"The heart of ministry is compassion," says Darrin Patrick, author of Church Planter. Jesus demonstrated incredible compassion during his time on earth. It is gospel-driven compassion for the sinful, the lonely and the hurting that drives much of ministry. But spiritual leaders are often bombarded with temptations to lose compassion.
Here are some of the enemies of a compassion-filled ministry:
Busyness- A major sign that busyness is crowding our your compassion is when you find your worry about your scheduling crowding out your compassion for the person you are with. If you are annoyed that a meeting with a distraught parishioner is preventing you from knocking out your to-do list, you should re-examine your priorities. When the needs of people begin to make you angry, you know you are no longer caring for people.
Hurriedness- There is a difference between being busy and being hurried. Busyness is about the things you have to do. "Being hurried is the spiritual, mental, and emotional state that you are in when you are trying to do these things."
Self-righteousness- Trying to be upright before God because you are comparing your sin with others' will harden your heart towards people. Forgiveness will be difficult and compassion next to impossible if you elevate yourself above the sins of others.
Self-protection- "One of the hardest things to overcome in loving hurting people is absorbing their hurt, rejection, and shame without pulling back emotionally." To show true compassion, you must enter into the suffering of those you are helping. Compassion is the only way to focus on others' needs instead of our own.
It's easy to get swept up in the busyness of daily life or to shield ourselves from the pain of others. We must be actively fighting against the enemies of compassion if we are truly going to make a difference in the lives of others.
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." -Matthew 9:36
Adapted from chapter 13 of Church Planter by Darrin Patrick.