Sunday, January 5, 2014

Discovering the Value of EQ

What's the difference between IQ and EQ? 

It all boils down to relationships.

A person could have below average IQ (Intelligence Quotient), but still have a high EQ (Empathy Quotient).

Empathy is just a fancy word for compassion. To be able to feel what others feel.

I recently had the chance to practice empathy with one of my children, who loves all God's creatures, big and small.

Last fall, while rocking on the porch of our rental cabin, enjoying the fresh mountain air and watching the wind tickle the leaves of a Japanese Maple across the narrow parkway, I was called out of my serenity. 

"Mommy, come see, come see," my little girl beamed a sunshiny smile and beckoned for me to follow.  She raced down the porch steps to the driveway.

I pushed myself out of the rocker. As I looked up, a gust of wind swept through the branches of the maple tree. Its amber leaves swirled to the ground.

Before I reached the steps, my daughter let out a piercing cry. "Daddy, NO!"

Her daddy was busy unloading the SUV. His hands were full. He hadn't noticed.

She crossed her arms. "You stepped on him!" she cried, tears streaming wet tracks down her face.

"Huh?" he lifted his foot to find what was left of a creepy crawly caterpillar. "Oh.  Oh, no.  I'm so sorry, honey.  I didn't see him."

"You squashed him." She put her hands over her face and started to weep. Deep sobs rocked her whole body.

My husband dropped everything and picked her up. I came alongside and stroked her hair as her daddy rocked her in his arms.

Losing a little friend like a caterpillar may seem like a small thing. Easy to brush off or sweep under the carpet. But, my daughter's hurt was real. It wasn't little to her.

Both my husband and I were experiencing something called


Going through the painful grief of loving and saying goodbye to a child born to die gave us both a deep understanding of loss.

Sometimes you have to go through hard things like that to understand. To know what others need. To be there for them.

Grief unhindered develops empathy.

It tenders us, creates a sensitivity to others' pain and a desire to give of oneself to assuage their hurt.

Have you ever known someone who would give everything they had for others?

Sometimes it's innate, in their personality,

Other times it's learned, through experience.

Empathy is taught, caught, and grows as we grieve.

That's at least one thing we can be thankful for when we're going through hardship.

It gives us empathy.

Then, there are those miraculous moments where a person, who ordinarily wouldn't care, meets someone in need and has compassion on them.

This kind of empathy develops and is cultivated through an ongoing relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Loving God,

Loving your neighbor,

Even an enemy.

This is the pattern of Life that Jesus laid out for us when his feet walked this soden earth.

In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus illustrates empathy:


An Israelite, who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead lay on the side of the road.  No one stopped to help, not even the religious leaders who passed by him on the other side.

"But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion." (vs. 33)

You don't have to be super religious, well liked, or especially successful to have empathy.

When you see someone hurting, stop, think about how much Christ loves the person, and ask for His help to meet whatever needs that person has.

If you don't have heaps of empathy, that's okay. There is grace here and we have all our lives to develop this ever valuable virtue.

5 Practical Ways to Help Develop Empathy: 

1. Be friends with others who are empathetic and learn from their example.
2. Be around people who are hurting.
3. Be silent at first and practice the art of active listening.
4. Be sensitive to their needs.
5. Be available to offer prayer, help, and love.

After shedding many tears, Sunshine Girl used a maple leaf shroud to cover her caterpillar friend. As the laughter of her brother and sister on the swings drifted from over the embankment, she paused for a moment and stood silently over the makeshift grave.

A hint of a smile graced her lips until she was beaming. Then, she took off running to join in the fun.

In this broken and hurting world, we could always use some more empathy. And the more of us who have and use this rare and beautiful gift, the more we'll see lives changed and broken people, healed.

Growing With You,