I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s giveaway is
Through a variety of speaking experiences, Rich Pérez has grown into a unique storyteller and thought-leader in faith, family, the arts, and the Hispanic-American experience. In 2011, he and his family led a team of friends into his hometown neighborhood (Washington Heights), and started a church that would embrace the very values with which they lived. Rich is the lead pastor of Christ Crucified Fellowship in New York City, where he lives with his wife and kids. I’m honored that he wrote the blog post today.
The cultivation of empathy is a missing dynamic of leadership development.
What do I mean by this? Leaders lead people. To lead people, one must understand people. He must be able to walk in the shoes of his followers. She must be able to see the world the way her followers see the world. This doesn’t always mean agreeing with the thoughts or perspectives of our followers, but it does entail an increasing ability to understand the joys and the sorrows of those we lead.
The most effective way to cultivate empathy, not surprisingly, is by interacting with people. Through the ups and downs of life, as we laugh and cry with our friends and family, we begin to empathize with our brothers and sisters. But there’s another surprising way we can cultivate empathy—through reading.
That’s right—reading books can help us empathize with our neighbors. But how can sticking your nose between some pages, in isolation, help you empathize with real people? That’s the thing—when you’re reading, you’re never actually alone. As you engage with the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of those you read, you develop the type of empathy that’s required to lead graciously, and to lead well.
I’m blessed to pastor a church in Uptown New York. It’s an incredibly rich, diverse context. I engage with people every day of different ethnicities, political persuasions, tastes in food, music, and art, and even different religions. How can I, as a leader, empathize with all of these different people?
You may be thinking, “Rich, that doesn’t matter to me. My context looks nothing like New York City.” Maybe your context doesn’t look anything like New York City right now. But soon, it just might.
Our country is becoming increasingly diverse. Many have said that by 2050, our country will be majority–minority, with those of Latin-American heritage as the largest group. Truth is, if you’re a church leader, you more than likely already have Latinos attending your church. If you don’t now, you will. And not just Latinos, but people of various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. How are you preparing to shepherd people who, more and more, look different than you, and different from one another?
I recommend you start by reading. Read authors who are like you, and read those who are different than you. Read other Christians who have inherited a different cultural heritage than you. Read Christians with a different dialect and skin tone, Christians in a different tax bracket and political party. You don’t have to agree with everything they say. But who knows, you may just learn something. And I suspect you’ll learn quite a bit about leading well, and leading with empathy.
Today we are giving away a super pack of three books: