Hey everyone, Tim here. 

     I hope you were able to join us for another week of our "Build a Better You" series (Catch up on the series HERE). This week, Jeff and Michelle Winters shared with us one of the most fundamental aspects to building better relationships: listening! In the first chapter of James' letter, he says, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." He goes on to say that anger does not express God's character.

     I'm a big fan of old proverbs, and not just the Biblical kind. When I think about this verse in James, it bring to mind the old saying, "what's good for the goose is good for the gander." In other words, what is beneficial to one can be beneficial to all.

     I think this proves true when it comes to listening. When we take the time to be present with another person and listen to what they are saying (not just forming a response for when it's OUR turn to speak), we can begin to understand them and who they are, what they've been through, how they process life. Only through this listening can we truly begin to develop empathy. Above all others things, I believe it is empathy with others (not sympathy for them) that allows us to love like Christ.

     Empathy says I understand you and I choose to walk alongside of you as an equal. Sympathy says, I don't understand your situation because I have never experienced it and I am unwilling to process your perspective. Sympathy says that I am above this person and instead of choosing to walk alongside them, I pity them as someone less fortunate. Sympathy stands outside and looks in, empathy stands beside and gets its hands dirty.

     Let's begin to listen to each other, and through our empathy begin to love like Christ loves us!