Counselor Urges Christians to Learn True Compassion

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Counselor Urges Christians to Learn True Compassion
New Book Inspires Empathy in a Hurting World

(Nashville, Tenn.)— We live in a difficult time of swelling divisiveness, disrespect, and acts of hatred that heralds the need for increased compassion toward others. Luckily for the population, research* shows that compassion is within our instinct and that it benefits both the recipient and giver. This gift has been shown to improve mental, physical, and social health. However, knowing how to be compassionate in a way that makes the greatest impact takes some work. A new book, The Path of Compassion: Living with Heart, Soul, and Mind (Abingdon Press), is answering the call to help those who want to care, learn how.

Written by seasoned pastoral counselor Ronald J. Greer, The Path of Compassion explores engaging our heartfelt empathy effectively into acts of kindness and in so doing, reclaiming the image of God with its grace and compassion within us. The book helps persons of faith learn the dynamics of compassion as they grow into their deepest and most caring selves.

“Having been a pastoral counselor for over 30 years, I’ve seen the need for heartfelt compassion. This book is my attempt to help people discover their paths and find their way to becoming all that they are called to be.”

It is based on the foundational truths of the scriptures to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” – and to love “your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12: 30-31 NIV). In three sections, Greer explores the loving compassion of the heart, soul, and mind:

Compassion of the heart addresses our desire to respond in the presence of human need. The essentials of Christian caring – sympathy, empathy, compassion, and loving-kindness – each move us to a deeper level of care for those who struggle. Sympathy is to be with them in their suffering. Empathy is to be in their suffering with them. Yet there is more for which the compassionate heart yearns.  It is to reach out in loving-kindness and make a difference.

Compassion of the soul is grounded in the awareness of the gift of grace. Compassion is a response to the grace by which we have been transformed. It is far more than a feeling or even good deeds. We are filled with an abundance we instinctively want to share. Our hearts swell, and our tears well. We respond to grace by wanting to live more graciously. We are blessed, and we want to be a blessing.

Compassion of the mind is called on to get meaningful traction in making a difference. This is about doing what is right and caring. We have to act. Our actions build on the emotion and the motivation to get the job done. We discern the needs to be addressed and decide how best to offer ourselves and the gifts we bring. As we engage, we do so with healthy boundaries, for our capacities are not without bounds. We live out the agape, to which we are called. We love our neighbor, and even our enemy. We act on their behalf, for their welfare, because we love God.

“For our heartfelt compassion to become acts of caring, options have to be discerned, decisions made, and then actions taken. This requires the wisdom and insight of the mind - in union with the passion of the heart and inspiration of the soul,” says Greer. “This book is about compassion as not just an emotion or an inspiration or an action. Compassion is all three working together in a beautiful synergy.”

He adds that “learning to live and love with compassion isn’t about what I do for someone, but who I am with them. It’s also not always ‘warm and fuzzy’ as it sometimes involves risk and takes courage. The situation may require tough love, and we must respond to that call.”

The Path of Compassion delves into how we mature into ever-deepening levels of grace, making us more available with spiritual and emotional intimacy.

Ronald J. Greer is the author of four books: The Path of Compassion: Loving with Heart, Soul, and Mind, Now That They Are Grown: Successfully Parenting Your Adult Children, Markings on the Windowsill: A Book About Grief That’s Really About Hope, and If You Know Who You Are, You’ll Know What To Do: Living with Integrity.  He is the Director of the Pastoral Counseling Service at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, having been with this ministry for over thirty years.  He is an ordained United Methodist minister, a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. A native of Louisiana, he has a Bachelor of Science from Louisiana State University, a Masters of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, a Masters of Theology in pastoral counseling from Columbia Theological Seminary. Find him online at RonaldJGreer.com.

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* Source article:

Psychology Today article “Compassion: Our First Instinct” – 6/3/13

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201306/compassion-our-first-instinct