The Pain And Pleasure of Learning Empathy

Empathy: Feeling for Each Other

Empathy: Learning How

Thank you for your willingness to learn empathy from me.

Learning the Pain and Pleasure of Empathy. You may wonder how I learned empathy, and how I became a counselor. Well, you already know! Yep, you’ve already read the lessons I learned:

  1. Blunder with the woman who shared her transgression – I had to consider understanding another person. Read
  2. Blunder with the man who exploded in anger at the idea of God – I had to learn to ease genltly into a converssation with someone I had just met. To know the person before I shared even the love of God. Read
  3. Blunder telling a crying woman, “Life can’t be that bad.” Read
  4. Confrontation from my church member – who taught me to “think like the other guy.” Read


In other words, I learned empathy mostly under supervision from people more experienced, who were invested in my growth in effectiveness with people. But there’s another dynamic present in all of my experiences: They were painful. I got stung over and over. One supervisor in a group setting, after I reported something I had said to a patient on the ward, exploded, “Why the hell did you say THAT?”

I remembered those early experiences; they were a part of my training experience. They became part of me. I learned. L. Doward McBain, former president of American Baptist Seminary of the West once told me, “We never learn anything without tension; we never admit it at the time.”

I don’t know what you need to do to learn empathy, presuming you want to. But I want to encourage you. By telling you how painful it was for me to learn empathy, I know it will be painful for you also. So, learn from your blunders; we’re all human. We have to begin somewhere. I told you mom’s response if I dared challenge her, “That’s Why and Z, too!” Not good empathy training. So I had to learn it the hard way.

Learning the Pain and Pleasure in Empathy

But I want to encourage you. Here’s a brief (15 minute) video of Simon Sinek, inspirational business speaker, who speaks on Empathy. Consider this learning empathy the easy way (if you do what he says): Watch Simon Sinek on Empathy HERE

Simon Sinek on Empathy

Best Speech of All Time-Simon Sinek

About Grose

Gordon Grose loves most to write, speak, and preach on the message of hope from the book of Job. Using drama, video, and PowerPoint, he has preached and presented this message of hope to churches around the country. Grose pastored three congregations 25 years, then served 12 years as a pastoral counselor in a Portland, Oregon counseling clinic. He now serves with Good Samaritan Counseling Services, Beaverton, OR. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Brandeis University, and Boston University, he comes from a rich and varied background in theological and counseling training. In 2015, Gordon published Tragedy Transformed: How Job's Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours, a book about turning to Job for hope after tragedy. If you have experienced life challenges or personal tragedy, visit his Transforming Tragedy ( blog to learn more. provides a sample of Gordon's speaking as well as an opportunity to purchase copies of his book.
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