We are a community committed to reflecting the character of God. Our motto ‘rigorous minds and compassionate hearts’ is indicative of what we believe. From a science perspective, you may be interested in supportive observations made by highly respected researchers who actively promote the importance of compassion. We are preparing our students to be leaders and influencers in their fields.
In my last Newsletter, I shared with you research from a leading academic (Dr Jane Dutton, from Michigan University). She presents a compelling business rationale promoting High Quality Connections. I reflected on Jesus example of high quality connections, recognising His love is compassionate, kind, and honest.
This Newsletter picks up on compassion. I’m sharing research as a way of high-lighting the wonderful, affirming advice we can be encouraged by in the Bible. If you believe that God made us, then it makes sense to believe that He knows how we ‘tick’.
For example, the Bible encourages us to: ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you’ (Ephesians 4:32). There are multiple references actively promoting compassion (if interested, see https://www.compassion.com/poverty/what-does-the-bible-say-about-compassion.htm ).
Reading widely, I discovered that researchers have created ‘empirical evidence’ (i.e. not just theory, but facts can be proved by observation or experience) about the positive effects of compassion.
For example, Dr Jane Dutton speaks about the benefits of compassion in the workplace. She says: “Compassion in organisations helps organisations and individuals.” Dr Dutton speaks about the observed healing effects of compassion in her research. A quick summary of her findings is below.
When seeing or experiencing compassion, it:
- Makes people more committed and attached to their workplaces
- Changes how people think about their work situation and see themselves
- Receiving compassion changes how you think about yourself as a person.
- Compassion is like an investment in people’s significance.
- It’s an important source of meaning at work.
Reasons don’t we see more in the workplace (or our community)?
- People don’t see it as legitimate. Sometimes it doesn’t feel safe to express sufferings, and sometimes it doesn’t feel safe to respond with care.
- Few organisations reward people for showing compassion … it can be perceived to be weak.
- The absence of empathy. Compassion is a process, (a) involving noticing, (b) having empathic concern for another person, and (c) then responding to the pain.
- Often people don’t know what to do, so they do nothing.
Compassion is most positive when modelled by leaders.
What can be done to encourage compassion in our community?
- Recognise three phases … there is always ‘pain in the room’. Provide a safe ‘place’ for people to express that suffering.
- Don’t judge. It inhibits compassion
- Don’t worry about acting perfectly. Sometimes just being with a person (showing up and being present) is enough to show compassion, especially when life is pacey and busy. You don’t have to solve it.
Another academic, Dr James Doty, Director of Stanford University’s Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, School of Medicine believes compassion will be the value that ultimately saves humanity. His medical research observes:
- Compassion results in increased pleasure.
- Decreased levels of
- Results in strengthening of the immune system.
Dr Doty is professionally committed to showing the evidence of the positive impact of compassion. He concludes:
- Compassion has a significant impact on the greater good.
- In busy lives, it’s easy to forget what is at the core of our humanity. In his opinion, it is compassion.
- When brought forward, it affects every aspect of our lives in a good way, and gives meaning.
- When someone acts with compassion, it has a very positive impact.
- We have many opportunities to help other people, and when you do that, it helps you feel good.
I’m sharing this with you in the knowledge we are committed to helping your children thrive. We believe in a loving God that knows us, and wants us to thrive, as one author writes, “to be fully human and fully alive” (Father John Powell). Community is central to how we encourage each other. Being compassionate has not cost, in fact the opposite. Being compassionate to each other reflects God’s love, and causes all of us to enjoy SCBC as a great place to be.
With support and encouragement,