Empathy vs. Sympathy

I have recently learned the difference between empathy and sympathy, and it has opened up so much understanding. You would think I would have long since figured out the difference, but I guess I was absent from class the day that was discussed.

The definitions are so simply, yet profound. Empathy is putting yourself in someone’s shoes; sympathy is agreeing with their feelings, values, or struggle.

This is helpful to me because I previously thought a pastor should always have sympathy for others. The reality is I don’t always need to agree with someone’s feelings, value, or struggle. However, I can always try my best to put myself in their shoes. I don’t have to agree, but I can try to imagine what it would be like to be in their position.