How to lead people further faster with an often neglected quality

Part 2 in a blog series about leading with kindness

Lead with compassion

Compassion is simple to understand.

Take a moment and think back into your past.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably been through some difficult situations and challenging circumstances; things that have put your endurance, faith, and resolve to the test.

More than likely you didn’t know what to do, or where to turn at certain junctures of your life. You may have experienced hardships that brought you low and threatened to harm you or your family’s way of living.

These moments of uncertainty are never easy; and we often take the wrong turn in life during them. So, let me ask you a question…

If you’ve ever been sick, or lonely, hurt, disillusioned, confused, or in great need…how did you want people to respond to you?

We have all needed help at some point in our life; and the cardinal rule is simple:

What you do comes back to you.

In those trying times, you probably didn’t want someone to show up and act as a know-it-all. You most likely realized too, that not all your problems could be solved through easy means. But what sort of difference would it have made to you, the last time you were really struggling, if someone would have just shown you genuine compassion?

Compassion is the leader’s ally. It opens the door to the heart.

When you freely give someone compassion, even if you can’t actually meet there need, at the very least, you’ve reached out to their heart.

Compassion is part of kindness.

To lead with kindness, a leader must use compassion to reach the heart of those who are hurting.

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As a leader seeking to influence others for their benefit, compassion unlocks doors that were previously shut tight in someone’s life.

It makes a real difference when a leader leads with compassion.

Truthfully, isn’t compassion what you want when life gets difficult?

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Genuine leaders show compassion

Difficult times require a caring heart.

This is where compassion comes in.

It is that feeling of wanting to help someone in need.

Now, there have been plenty of situations where I experienced great need, you have too. And in many of those times, a friend or family member would come alongside of me and show compassion.

They may not have had the resources to help me, or the answer to my problem; but the simple act of showing compassion meant the world. Why? Because I could feel that they wanted to help.

Believe it or not, those people influenced me and some have even become leaders in my life, simply because I saw in them, a heart of concern and care for me.

Never underestimate the power of compassion.

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Let me ask you a question:

As a leader, are you able to look at someone through a tender heart and realize, “this person needs help”?

If a leader cannot feel this basic compassion for someone, he or she won’t go very far in their influence. They may have a title, or hold a position; but they won’t really be a leader; because leadership is about influencing others.

Compassion in a real leader’s heart doesn’t just stop when it recognizes a problem. It goes a step further. To lead with kindness means that you don’t only see that a person needs help; but you say to yourself, “this person needs my help”.

Leaders are willing to step in with compassion when others have already checked out because they don’t know how to help. A leader will find ways to show compassion to hurting people.

Leaders who lead with kindness understand the power of using compassion.

Now, here’s the thing when it comes to compassion and leadership:

Genuine leaders don’t show compassion to others just to gain followers.

To the contrary, effective leaders want to show compassion because they have a genuine care and concern for people.

Real leaders who desire to make others go forward, are not out for their own benefit; but instead, seek the growth of those they lead. Compassion is a powerful tool of persuasion and influence; but it should never be used as false quality.

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When a leader leverages compassion, it is meant to be a tool used to aid, help, restore, and fix someone’s heart. When leaders think in these terms, they become the sort of leaders that other not only need; but what people want too.

Everyone is looking for someone to genuinely care about them. It’s something built into us. We need and want people in our lives that have positive effects on us. Whether the leader can actually fix the problem isn’t always the point. The point is, a leader becomes effective when they care about others and show real compassion.

There’s a hidden, often overlooked secret going on behind the scenes when leaders reach out to touch a heart through compassion…People follow them.

In fact, people are always drawn to those who reach out to help them in their time of need. And the thing is, needs can show up in all sorts of categories.

Shepherd your followers

There are physical needs that can be met through giving physical help. An example might be the person who gives to feed the hungry, or donates clothing, or even someone who opens their home in a time of need to a hurting family member.

There are also emotional needs which can often be helped by simply offering genuine words of care and concern. When it comes to helping people emotionally, the vast majority of leaders aren’t necessarily trained to deal with everything; yet, in the end we call all offer a kind word of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, or we can share in the joy of a hard-won victory.

Finally, every person has spiritual needs whether they realize it or not. And for the Christian leader, it’s important to show compassion to those who are hurting spiritually. Unfortunately, many leaders look at those with spiritual problems and the leader feels like they are better than them somehow.

But when it comes to spirituality, we are all on a level playing field. If it weren’t for the transforming power of Jesus Christ, no one would stand a chance at overcoming their spiritual deficiencies.

What should a Godly leader do?

Godly leaders have one great need:

They need to model the character of God as it relates to compassion.

To get an idea of God’s character in compassion, let me quickly share a few scriptures to see it in action.

Psalm 86:15 NLTse

15 But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

It is easy to see how to apply a verse like this to our leadership. Simply ask yourself, “am I quick to show mercy, or do I hold mistakes over people’s head?”

Ask yourself, “Do I get angry quick, or am I tempered and slow to be angry?”

And the big question, “Am I a leader who shows love?”

Now, love may not be a word generally associated with leadership; but for a leader who seeks to model Christ, love is non-negotiable.

The prophet Hosea paints a graphic picture of the compassion of God, even towards people who have wronged Him.

Hosea 11:8 NLTse

8 “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.

The big difference between God and people is shown through what happens when our heart is torn apart by those we lead.

When God’s heart has been torn by the hurtful words, deeds, and actions of those He loves, His heart bleeds compassion for them. How often has your heart poured out compassion when it’s been hurt by those you lead?

Finally, we see one more important illustration in the book of Matthew.

Matthew 9:36 NLTse

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus was a tremendous leader; and His following proved that and continues to do so. Why was His leadership so effective? Because He took the opportunity to really see people.

And when He saw their hurts, their needs, and their problems…Jesus’ automatic response was compassion.

All great leaders become shepherds of the people they lead. They desire to lead their “flock” into good fields where they can become healthy and strong. Until your leadership can truly “see” others for what they are going through, you won’t be able to show compassion.

Here’s what to do:

1. Take the time to “see” people’s need.

2. Be slow to get angry; but quick to show mercy.

3. Respond to the hurts of others with a heart of love.

4. Care for those who follow your leadership as a shepherd would care for his flock.

Larry Shankle is a pastor, author, and blogger. He helps people get clarity and direction in their calling, purpose, dreams, and leadership.

Larry and his wife (Amanda) live in the Arkansas river valley with their two boys (Braxton and Dawson). He has spent almost two decades in active local church ministry serving in multiple leadership roles. Larry has spent the last six and a half years serving as Lead Pastor of GrandviewChurch in Natural Dam, AR.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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